Insa-dong, Samcheong-dong and lots-of-fun

Greetings friends!

So as you know, this blog is going to be part-reflection and part-present tense daily report weblog journal thing (official title). Because I have such a backlog of images, videos and  high-def memories, methinks the next few posts will be catching up on the start of my time here, before segueing into the juice that is my day-to-day life. But in actuality, this site will probably be a higgledy-piggledy gumbo of time periods, with unanticipated jumps between them so fast you may get confused and occasionally frustrated and maybe even a little angry and THAT is why I have so many pictures!

Hey, here’s one now!

Beyond the Insadong crowds
Beyond the Insadong crowds

This, friends, is Insa-dong. Now although I have been in Seoul for almost six months (gasp), I haven’t really ventured out too far in a while. The subway system here is great, and there is so much to see. I think it’s just… I’ve been busy. Had a few other things on my plate and, whoops, it’s been half a year! But when I first got here (and occasionally on some weekends), I was a pretty big go-getter ’round these parts. I even started Korean classes! Bright eyed and busy tailed, I launched myself into Korea.

This was one of those times. Myself and three of my newfound friends and coworkers took a daytrip to this lovely area. Insa-dong is a renowned hub or artists, and also tourists. Ooh, and they have crazy food stalls, such as this wacky ice-cream van:

Crazy ice cream stand in Insa-dong
Crazy ice cream stand in Insa-dong

Bizarre, non? I sadly have not yet tried one of these, but basically that whole squiggly thing is the ice cream cone, and they feed the soft serve into that and then I guess you just chomp that down! So it’s like a tube filled with ice-cream and you just munch on it. It looked pretty yummy, one day I will just have to try it in the name of science (or Jebus).

So on this day we went walkabout, it was still pretty darn cold and we were rugged up. We wanted to have a look around and found a fancy-looking building to explore. We took this crazy lift up to one of the high floors, where they happened to have a restaurant with a pretty spesh view. Although we weren’t eating, this sophisticated-looking place and their staff were nice enough to let us in to take some pictures. Here are a few of the shots (excuse my reflection):

Insa-dong through the glass
Insa-dong through the glass
Natallia & I happy snappin'
Natallia & I happy snappin’

Naw, aren’t we cute?!

So getting back to Insa-dong. Shortly before we got to Korea, in mid-Feb this year, there was a mentally ill arsonist who burned down a series of buildings in the area. We actually walked past the site and there wasn’t too much left. Strangely enough, the juxtaposition of the burnt remains and the high-rise buildings in the background was actually quite a beautiful scene:

The arsonist's work
The arsonist’s work

(You can’t quite see the buildings in this photo, I know, but they were there and it was pretty!)

After visiting the artsy (but commercialised) Insa-dong, we made our way to Bukchon Village, which is a very old area of Seoul that houses many traditional, well, houses (pun sort of intended). I love this area because the streets meander up, down and around, and you are left to your own devices to explore these beautiful creations from many years ago. The crazy thing is that people still live in them today, so you are actually visiting a residential area. For this reason, it is recommended that you are a respectful, normal citizen (ie. not a “tourist” type) and keep the noise to a minimum. When we visited, there was actually  someone in their kitchen, just cooking up some dinner (burgers, maybe?). Pretty crazy stuff.

The best part of this area is when you get to the top of the hill/slight incline and you have this stunning view of Seoul and Namsan Tower, overlooking all of the traditional Bukchon roofs. It looks something like this:

The beautiful view from Bukchon Village
The beautiful view from Bukchon Village

So stunning. The journey to this part of town (about 45 minutes from Guri) is worth it just for this view.

Right next to this area is Samcheong-dong (pronounced ‘Sumchong-dong’) which I much prefer to Insa-dong, so far at least. It is a bit more off the beaten track, in that it is basically less touristy and more beautiful – the perfect combination! It has this gorgeous curving tree-lined street, and soft, romantic (ooh!) lighting. There are many cute little artsy shops (this area is an artist’s paradise), and many of these are tucked just off the street, which just adds to the fun. It actually reminds me a lot of Melbourne, which can only be a good thing! Samcheong-dong just has a great vibe, and it is still very trendy but just a bit more relaxed than other ‘cool’ places in Seoul (Gangnam and Apgujeong, I’m looking at you!).

Here’s a (slightly blurry) taste of Samcheong-dong:

Samcheongdong by night
Samcheong-dong at dusk

To be honest, I’ve only been to Samcheong-dong twice and am still yet to discover its many unexplored (by me, at least) treasures. However, for anyone reading this who has not yet been, please kindly get yo’self over to this part of town. You could spend many hours here indulging all of your senses and not feeling one damn ounce of shame about it!

Since this day many months ago, things have slowed down a bit (in the sense that they sped up to a head-spinning rate and have just started to calm down again). Between having my brother and my boyfriend come to visit, which briefly occurred at the same time, to settling into the job and trying to muddle my way through a non-English speaking country, I have had myself ‘a time’! However, it has been so fun and full of energy (unlike me some of the time…) and I can’t believe almost six months have passed. I swear, Korea time is waaay different to normal time. Either that, or I’m just living like a college student, with too much opportunity and too few responsibilities (again).

That’s it for today, hope you’ve enjoyed this giant post! I will leave you with a view of the stunning backdrop to Samcheong-dong:

The amazing mountains beyond Samcheong-dong
The amazing mountains beyond Samcheong-dong

See y’all again soon 🙂

Steph x