The sad conclusion to a great weekend. The only bad thing about the entire weekend was that it was drawing to an end. Anna’s visit was by far much too short, but what can you do? We enjoyed the time for what we had, and I’m already looking forward to short time we’ll be together in Japan ^^ On to the final day!
Like the day before, we woke up at 8:00 am and prepared for another busy day. Anna looked up what Koreans typically ate for breakfast and wanted to try 죽 (juk – rice porridge). I knew of a restaurant by the name of 본죽 (Bonjuk) right in 인사동 (Insadong) which was right in the area we were off to for the morning. Unfortunately, when we got there it was closed…as was the entire street of Insadong. Something which would be a growing trend over the day. I knew it was 설날 (Seollal) and that things would be closed…but I never imagined everything would be closed! The entire city was almost shut down! Acknowledging that we were going to have a tough time getting food, we got a bag of 델리만쥬 (Deli Manjoo) on our way to 창덕궁 (Changdeokgung). The deli manjoo turned out to be little cakes filled with custard.
After we were done with the palaces we also tried these little red-bean cinnamon pastries.
When we arrived at the main entrance to Changdeokgung we were pleasantly surprised to find out that it was free to enter both Changdeokgung and 창경궁 (Changgyeonggung) palaces because of the New Year! A pretty nice deal! An added bonus was that the weather was finally cooperating with us!
Today was the first time all weekend where it wasn’t unpleasant to spend extended amounts of time outdoors. We spent a few hours walking around the palace grounds. There is a lovely garden behind the Changgyeonggung Palace, but it wasn’t the famous 비원 (Biwon – Secret Garden).
It was in the garden by one of the pavillions that we saw this little guy…and both of us almost fell on the ice.
There was this lovely Glass House located in the rear of the 춘당지(Chundangji) area. As we were walking through this garden, we ran into a Korean family (consisting of a mum, dad, and middle-school aged daughter) a few times. It had gotten to the point where we were exchanging awkward smiles due to the consistency of us meeting after taking different paths. At one point the daughter ran ahead of us on the small path and said “실례합니다” (shillyehabnida – excuse me) to which I replied “괜찮아요” (gwaenchanhayo – it’s alright). She turned back around and gave me a massive grin. The next time out paths crossed she scurried ahead and came next to Anna and I. I heard her father shout something out to her, after which she turned to me and said “언니 예쁜다” (Eonni, yebbeunda. – Sister, you’re pretty.) I was happily shocked and bashfully answered 감사합니다 (kamsahabnida – Thank you). It pretty much made my day ^^
While we were in the park, two of my coat’s buttons fell off. So, instead of walking around all day with my coat undone (in the typical Korean-style), I bought these lovely pins from the gift shop and lazy-man fixed my coat ^^
After we finished with the palaces, we headed out towards 삼청동 (Samcheong-dong) for both sightseeing and in search of a tea shop. There was very few shops open along the artsy Samcheong-dong streets, but the ones that were open were absolutely packed! We stepped inside of one shop called Kim’s Boutique.
We had a fun time in the vintage style shop. We both found a piece of clothing we were in but were hesitant to try on. It quickly turned into a ‘I’ll try it on, if you try it on…’ Which ended up in us both buying the respective pieces of clothing (a floral print long shirt for Anna and a navy dress for me).
We also found a nice little jewellery shop who’s only name was a triangle (?), but the creator’s name was In Soo Yoon. It was a great store where almost everything was ~5,000원. We both bought the same rose-gold coloured bow necklace, and I bought a pair of Space Invader earrings.
After our little shopping adventure, it was back to searching for tea. One of the things Anna wanted to try while she was in Korea was traditional Korean style tea. And I love traditional Korean tea, so I really wanted to take her to one! Sadly, many of them were closed as well. Both of the traditional tea houses that I wanted to take her to (that I knew how to find) were closed, but we finally managed to find one by the name of Cafe Yung! This Korean fusion shop was in a cute little converted 한옥 (hanok – traditional Korean house) and they specialized in traditional Korean snacks and tea, along with other teas and coffees.
We ended up ordering 매실차 (maesil cha – Asian apricot tea), 오미자차 (omija cha), 호박죽 (hobak juk – pumpkin porridge), and 고구마 맛탕 (goguma mattang – sweet potato dessert with syrup). The goguma mattang was a bit sweet for both of us, but tasty none the less. I think we both preferred the hobak juk.
After the cafe, we were off to find the 북촌한옥마을 (bukchon hanok maeul – Bukchon Hanok Village), located somewhere in our general vicinity. It was tricky to find the Hanok Village, but in the end we just followed the rest of the Japanese and Chinese tourists who were walking around. The roads were steep, but the end view was pretty neat.
I think these may be some of the first shots I’ve seen out there with snow on the hanoks. There isn’t too many tourists who come for the chilly winter season.
It took us a while to find the hanoks, and by this point it was 3:00 pm. That mean there was only another 2 hours before Anna needed to go back to my place and start packing up to leave ㅜ.ㅜ We headed back towards Insadong in hopeful search of food. Despite the fact that 80% of the shops were still closed, Insadong was pretty packed. So likewise, the few open restaurants were full! We ended up going to one called 인사동 그짐 (Insadong Geujib). Another converted hanok, we got placed in the back, more private rooms. I felt a little bad for the waiters. They were absolutely running around the place trying to keep up! And yet, we never had to wait for than a few minutes for service.
We got the two person set meal which included 불고기 (bulgogi – marinated beef), 된장찌개 (doejang jjigae – soybean stew), and 반찬 (banchan – side dishes). It was pretty tasty, and the service was bar none. A bit more on the pricey side (23,000 원), but it was a nice last meal.
After eating, it was back to my place, and then at the strike of 5:30 pm, it was time for Anna to catch the subway to take her to the express line towards the 김포국제공항 (gimpo gukje gonghang – Gimpo International Airport).
It was a great trip, and was so nice to see Anna again after 4 years. I can’t wait for the next time we go on a trip together! ^^
Till next time!
P.S. I’m afraid that there won’t be any more posts coming up this week due to my final exams coming up. I write/speak on the 19th and 20th, so this week is pretty much solely reserved for studying ^^ Wish me luck! In exchange, I’m adding some more pictures of the Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung Palaces and some other things I liked for your enjoyment!