Exploring the 북촌 한옥 마을 (Bukchon Hanok Village)

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This last Sunday I was determined to get out of my room.  It had been a full three days since classes had ended and I was feeling the need to explore.  All of my friends were busy, but I decided this would be a prime time to go and try sightseeing on my own.

I’ve also held that doing touristy things is always better with a friend or two.  This way you have someone to take your pictures and to talk with all day.  But, when life gives you a lack of lemons, you go out and find your own.

P.S. This week’s Posty Song  is ‘I like you best’ by B2ST (pronounced BEAST).  It’s an older song, but I’ve only just heard it.  I also may or may not be putting it up simply because I can understand a few full Korean sentences in the song ^^

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The original plan wasn’t actually to go through the북촌 한옥 마을(bukchon hanok maeul – Bukchon Hanok Village)….it was to go to the Seoul Embroidery Museum.  I had that trip all planned out and travelled all the way to 학동역 (hakdong yeok – Hakdong Station) ~45 minutes away from where I live….only to find that it was unexpectedly closed.  Determined not to have my day fail me, I got back on the subway and headed towards 안국역 (anguk yeok – Anguk Station) for my fail-safe.  I had planned another museum to try and find in case this one didn’t work out.  I was off to find The Owl Museum!….and I didn’t find it.

2013-05-19 12.16.11Seriously Korea!!  What am I going to do in Canada without all these shops everywhere?!

Instead I walked along a few streets I had never been to before and spent far more money that I should have on artisan objects.  On the plus side I finally got a business card case, and had a great time talking with the girl who made the button cover.

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As the morning passed, I noticed some signs pointed towards the Traditional Korean Crafts Workshops.  Intrigued, I figured ‘why not?’  If I couldn’t go to one embroidery museum, why not try a different one?  The direction signs were greatly appreciated!  They pointed me down the traditional craft street.

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My first stop was at the 한상수 자수공방 (han sang su jasu gongbang – Han Sang-soo Embroidery Workshop).  A 한옥 (hanok – traditional Korean house) set up to display both antique and more recent embroidery.  It costs 3,000원 to enter the house and was completely worth it!  I love handicrafts…despite not having much of an attention span for them.  I enjoy knitting, but was useless at cross-stitch in high school.  I really love Korean embroidery though!

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Here are a few of my favourite pieces.

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Unbeknownst to me at the very beginning, the elderly lady who had taken my entrance money at the start was actually the master of the house and had done much of the recent embroidery!  She was kind enough to speak with me in Korean and allowed me to take her picture next to one of her gloriously decorated 한복 (hanbok – traditional clothing).
The house offers a embroidery class for 10,000원.  I hope to give it a shot before I leave Korea.

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Next stop was the 동림매듭공방 (dongrim maedeub gongbang – Donglim Knot Workshop).  It only cost 1,000원 to enter this workshop, but I wasn’t allowed to take pictures.  I paid another 5,000원 to learn how to make a simple knotted keychain as a souvenir.  The dragonfly symbolizes friendship.

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After that I walked around the village a bit more (several of the other traditional workshops were closed for the day).  It was the first time I’d ever been to several of the areas.  It was neat to see the new places.  I was walking down one of the streets when, from the corner of my eye I saw an owl-shaped sign.

2013-05-19 15.03.29  I physically doubled back and walked down the alley to explore.  Sure enough, it was the Owl Museum that I hadn’t been able to find!

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It was a bit more pricey to enter this little one room museum.  It cost 5,000원 to enter, but it included a beverage of your choice (from green/black tea/coffee/juice).  The entire room was chock-full of owl paraphernalia!  It was one woman’s collection from year elementary school days.  She had a framed $50 Canadian bill on the wall!…plus some beer cozies and napkins from Hooters in Winnipeg ^^

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It was here that possibly the cutest thing that will ever happen to me, happened!  Inside the building there was also 6 other people: A mum/dad with two little boys and another very tall woman with her little son (maybe 2 years old).  I think they were all related though.  As I was walking around the room, the little guy had found the disconnected telephones and was happily talking jibberish into them.  I smiled down at him because frankly, it was bloody adorable.  At some point he noticed me smiling at him and held out the handset with a grin.  Now, if there is one thing that having 3 younger sisters and a multitude of younger cousins has taught me…if a toddler hands you a phone, you talk into it.
Picking up the phone I proceeded to talk some simple phone conversation sentences in Korean (여보세요  / 진짜? / 다음에 만나요 / 음/ 어텋깨? / 안녕히 계세요 )* to which he was besides himself in glee.  He would giggle every time I spoke in Korean.  After I would say goodbye and hand him back the phone, he would hang it up, pick it back up, talk into it, and then hold it out to me expectedly; To which, I would take it and play telephone with him.  We did this maybe 3 or 4 times before he got distracted as little toddlers tend to, and ran away.

I started to move on and look at some of the other displays when he came racing back to the phone with his mum in tow.  He immediately picked up the phone and spoke into it, he then held it out.  However, when his mum when to take the phone handset from him, he reeled back and adamantly stated: “아니요. 누나!” (Aniyo. Nuna! – No. Big sister!)  I came back to the phone and talked into the phone for him again, grinning like a maniac the entire time.  Even now it makes me all grin-y to think about him with his deep dimples.  I have never been closer to abducting a child before ^^  I had a good talk with his mum after in Korean.  It turns out that she is actually from China!  She had studied Korean at Ewha Woman’s University.  She was much better at it than I was, but I was happy to be able to speak a little bit with her in a language that wasn’t native to either of us and we were both able to understand each other!

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After the Owl Museum, I headed towards 인사동 (Insadong) and headed towards the 조계사 (Jogyesa Temple).  I lucked out and all the lanterns from Buddha’s birthday were still up!

2013-05-19 16.15.10So pretty!  I picked up some pamphlets on temple stays in Korea.  Might be another neat thing to do before I leave.

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So, after walking around the temple, and grabbing a 홋덕 (hotdeok – stuffed pancakes…i.e. one of my favourite treats here) from the main area in Insadong, I decided it was time to turn her in and head for home.

And by ‘home’ I mean I went to eat ^^  I decided on having 설렁탕 (seolleongtang – soup made from  ox bones and brisket) for supper and read for a while in a coffee shop in 신촌 (Shinchon) for a bit before finally making the walk back to my place.

I had left my place around 9:30am and didn’t get back until ~9pm.  It was a busy, bustling day with an adorable toddler thrown into the mix.  Not too shabby for my first time going off completely on my own ^^

Till next time!~

P.S. For anyone interested, here is the translation of the phone converstaion:
여보세요 – ‘Hello’ (reserved for talking on the phone)
진짜? – ‘Really?!’
다음에 만나요 – ‘Let’s meet next time.’
음 – ‘ummm’
어떻게? – ‘What to do?!’
안녕히 계세요 – ‘ Goodbye’

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