[Seoul] ~ A feel of old in Bukchon and Samcheongdong

Keep a map ready but find happiness in getting lost. Some places you find, some places you don’t. You’ll be surprised how amidst it all, you had a great day. – 03.22.13

Bukchon 

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Next stop after urban and indie Hongdae is a bit  touristy and it was one I spent heavily researching on as it is near other attractions. Bukchon Hanok Village is a neighborhood with traditional Korean houses  (called “hanok”) that are still inhabited. It is near the Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung Palace as well as other interesting areas such as Samcheongdong and Insadong. Samcheongdong is known for its cafes and antique shops while Insadong a shopping strip for buying souvenirs and other antique finds. I actually have been to the latter during a trip about 3 years ago but since it is nearby, I intended to go back.

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Let’s start walking again, shall we?

A short walk from the subway station, I dropped by the Tourist Information Center to get a map that shows the best possible route. Also in the map are the 8 photo spots where you can capture loveliest sceneries of the village. Later on, I shall share which ones I was able to find.

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Apologies if the map is not too clear. Meant to just give an idea how it looks like. 

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I spent tons of time walking but I still never know how long a walk 300 meters is. 

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What I like most are the details they put into traditional structures such as what we can see on the roof tiles of this house. 

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And even the details on the walls that are way better than the usual rectangular bricks.

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One of the many hanoks in the neighborhood. 

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Not a museum but an actual neighborhood. Although the place is so quiet and the houses look like displays in a museum, there are actual residents living in the traditional houses. As such, it was interesting to see traces of ‘life’ in the area.

Bukchon Church

 Church near the entrance of the village

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IMG_5728I am pretty sure there is no Mango yet during the old times. 

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Wooo. Someone had a happy night.

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Ssssshhh. 

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This exhaust seems a sign of ‘life’ inside the house, right?

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Streets not just lined with hanoks but also of cafes, galleries and shops. Cafes-slash-galleries usually sell various items that are handcrafted. I did not go inside to any but just took snapshots of interesting ones I saw while walking.

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The dolls are pretty scary though.

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NotesThis cafe has interesting ‘love’ letters posted near the door.

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At first glance, I really thought the books and the man are real! 

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KPop items

A bit off but there is store selling Korean drama and pop stuff. Well, I was just happy to see Jang Keun Suk and Jung Yong Hwa ❤

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Colorful lanterns

I am not sure for what these lanterns are for, but surely lovely. 예쁘다!

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HIlly Roads

Be prepared for lots of uphill walking. But the quiet in the place kind of balances.

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Even for roads as steep as 90 degrees.

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 Finally, first scenic mark spotted! After going around the village twice (not on purpose! haha), finally saw one of the eight photo spots.

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Photo Spot

Yey! So happy to have found one. ~

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I feel like I am freezing but I am really happy o_O

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After seeing one photo spot, I am ready to give up the others except the last one that shall lead me to my next destination – Samcheongdong. So off I went into searching for Photo Spot 8 – Stair Alley that connects Bukchon Village and Samcheongdong. It could also be an interesting find as it is said that staircase is made of one stone. As expected, though with a map in hand, it was just too difficult to find.

Search for stair alley

After checking the map, I thought this was the way. Turned out — I was wrong! 

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On my way to search for the alley, came across this cute graffiti in front of a guesthouse. Again was temporarily distracted.

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Waaah. How cuter can you get, little puppy.

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I was so desperately searching for the alley that I thought every stairs could be that. This one obviously isn’t as I see no “Photo Spot” nearby.

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If there is one thing I am rarely ashamed of doing – it’s asking. So when I felt like I was really getting lost, I asked a man where the staircase alley is. Language was of course a barrier but he tried his best to give directions by using a restaurant as a landmark so I aimed to find that restaurant.

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And I found it! I wouldn’t lie though and be honest that I did not see it on purpose.

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I was starting to feel a bit panicky at that moment because I know that I was somewhat up on a hill, fellow tourists I see were getting thinner and I was starting to feel real cold and tired. Yet no matter how much I try to concentrate on trying to understand the map, I just could not get it.

I kept on walking and went down the moment I see a set of steps down – regardless of where it was leading to. I didn’t care anymore whether it was the right one. At that time, all I know is that I wanted to go down. I was starting to feel a bit scared but I kept on walking and taking photos still!

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View of the palace from up there in Bukchon

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This lovely view somehow made me forget my “how am I going to get back?” worries.

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I went down the moment I saw this. Turned out it is a well! 

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IMG_5768Someone’s obviously fascinated by the leafless trees. 

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Finally down and out on the main road! 

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When I finally found my way down with the stairs I found after the well, I was in a completely different place. It seemed like really on the other side of Bukchon. Going back was again not an option so I just walked around, hoping that I would see a subway station somewhere. When I gave up,  I asked one of the officers and he told me that nearest station is Gwanghwamun and it is a 10-minute walk. Conversation went like this :

  • Teng: Excuse me, where is nearest subway station?
  • Officer: Far from here. Walk straight. Turn left. Turn right then right.
  • Teng: How do I know when to turn left
  • Officer: Huh?
  • Teng: (Just looked at him. I honestly didn’t know how to rephrase that)
  • Officer: Just take the bus.

I just smiled at him and knowing that riding the unfamiliar bus a riskier option, I said “thank you” and continued walking toward direction that officer was pointing at. And another great surprise —

Staircase Alley

Another “just when I stopped looking, I found you” moment with the staircase. At least by then, I could be sure I am in Samcheongdong. 

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Very cute amidst the grey and browns in the area.

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Cute items

A few steps after Hello Kitty cafe are more cat stuff. Well – not all cat stuff but the cutest are the cats. 

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How cute is this monkey couple ❤ What is the other one doing though?

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I kept on walking until I saw this street that is vibe a bit similar to Insadong. 

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Street Food 1

Saw a food stall and tried their spicy rice cake – 떡볶이 (Tteokbokki)

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IMG_5792This stall a bestseller! 

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And “This Place”.. sucks because all customers are going to the other stall o_O

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How to go Bukchon Traditional Village.  Go to Anguk Station (Line 6, Orange), take Exit 2 then walk straight ahead until you find the Tourist Information Center where you can get a map and start your walk around the place. I went there on a weekday so place was  less crowded.

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