Travel

An Afternoon in Insa-dong

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Not too long ago, I spent an afternoon in Insa-dong. Insa-dong’s one of Seoul’s most artistic and tourist friendly neighborhoods. I went there with my friend to have a delicious meal, eat some more, walk around, and take pictures.

The afternoon began with a detour by Gyeongbok Palace because I wanted to explore the streets around the palace and I also forgot where Insa-dong was. While wandering about the palace, we encountered a concert with a pre-historic theme and a flee market. In Seoul, there’s something interesting going on every day, everywhere.

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Our first stop was a restaurant with a traditional Korean atmosphere, Insa-dong Gu Jip (인사동 그집). I ordered bibimbap with gang doenjang, instead of gochujang, the red chilli paste it’s often served with now. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the food because I deleted them. Just know that my dish both looked and tasted delicious. My friend ordered cold noodles. They were okay.

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After the meal and before our next food stop, we decided to walk around to let what we’d just eaten digest. One of the more interesting things we saw was a take-out cocktail stand. On a Sunday, this is something you’d never see in parts of the States as alcohol can only be sold in certain stores and it’s illegal to sell on Sunday. But in Seoul, you can buy hard liquor on the street and walk around sipping it from something resembling an IV bag.

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My friend is a big fan of O’sulloc’s (오설록) green tea, so we went to the cafe they have in Insa-dong. There, you can get green tea flavored ice cream, cake, mochi, &c. They also have other tasty teas.

I ordered a green tea float because I wanted ice cream and a drink. It was good, nice and smooth, and nothing like the powdery green tea that’s offered at places like Starbucks.

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Our next stop was Ssamziegil (쌈지길), a winding building with more than 50 little stores in it. I bought a few beautiful postcards and envelopes from water drop sonata’s booth in the third picture. I can’t wait to mail them out.

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On the top floor of Ssamziegil, there’s a wall where couples leave charms. There’s also a poop themed cafe.

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On our way out, we stopped by the take-out cocktail stand. I was also randomly interviewed by students with a camera. They asked me several questions about various Korean political scandals, which was fine.

Intrigued by the uniquely shaped ice cream cones that many people had, my friend bought one. The verdict is that it looks cool, but tastes like ice sprinkled with sugar.

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As an artistic neighborhood, Insa-dong’s streets are filled with people who paint and do calligraphy. If you visit Seoul as a tourist, it’s a great place to go.

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On a final note, here’s a video of a flash mob in Ssamziegil that was made earlier this year.

Let me know if you want me to do more entries like this. This one wasn’t planned and came from me taking photos I didn’t want to put in a gallery. When I went to Insa-dong, I didn’t think much about composing my shots. Instead, I had fun and “shot from the hip.”

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13 Comments

  • Reply Josh July 9, 2013 at 1:27 am

    I liked this entry! It was really cool getting a virtual tour of sorts from your point of view. It looks like you had a great day. :)

    • Reply chantelle July 11, 2013 at 1:19 am

      Thanks and it was a great day. :)

  • Reply Aisling July 9, 2013 at 1:37 am

    This is amazing! I love photo posts with little blurbs (you may have noticed I post them a bit when photos can explain better than I can).

    Is that a police bus in the 3rd photo?

    I don’t understand who would want to eat in a poo-themed cafe!

    • Reply chantelle July 11, 2013 at 1:22 am

      Those are police buses. They’re a common sight in the city. Whenever there’s a big event (and there’s almost always some kind of event), there are police buses and often riot police.

      I don’t understand the appeal of food shaped like poo either, but the more I think about the cafe, the more intrigued I am.

      Also, thanks for the comment. :)

  • Reply Jem July 9, 2013 at 2:08 am

    I love your photo posts too (although I never know what to say in a comment…)

    I LOLed at the poop themed café XD

    • Reply chantelle July 11, 2013 at 1:22 am

      Thanks! 😀 There are other weird cafes as well. I just have to remember where they are.

  • Reply Liv July 9, 2013 at 2:09 am

    I want to see more entries like this, because I like looking at Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore – pretty much the places I can’t live in or go to. The only place I’ve been in that somewhat resembles those cities is Beijing (not counting four days in Hong Kong), but it turns out I am just too lucky I missed most of the heavy smog on my three-week trip. I have no interest in going to Beijing again any time soon, so I have to continue making myself happy with pretty pictures like these!

    In New York it’s illegal to drink in public, so it’s funny to me that you can sip from an IV bag!

    • Reply chantelle July 11, 2013 at 1:26 am

      Drinking culture here is very different from the way it is in the States. Drinking in public is totally fine and the selling-cocktails-in-the-street vendor wasn’t asking for IDs.

      I’m not keen on visiting Beijing right now, but if I have the opportunity, I do want to check out Shanghai and Hong Kong.

  • Reply Jenny July 9, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Beautiful photos. I like how you’ve captured the vibrancy and general day-to-day life.

    • Reply chantelle July 11, 2013 at 1:28 am

      Thank you! I don’t know if the photos represent everyday things. Insa-dong is a touristy area and most of photos feature something at least slightly unusual.

  • Reply Agent Q July 14, 2013 at 8:57 am

    I like it. It was very informative for me at least, since I’m big on visuals. Have you ever visited Scandinavia during the winter? If so, do you have any pictures to share? I’m just curious.

    • Reply Chantelle August 8, 2013 at 10:53 pm

      Thanks! I’ve never been to Scandianavia. I need to travel more. I’d love to visit different places and take pictures.

  • Reply Manda July 14, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    That green tea float looks DELICIOUS. I’d love to visit Korea and just explore everything the country has to offer. Not to mention get a taste of authentic Korean food. Korean food isn’t my favorite, but I suspect that’s because I’ve never really had genuine Korean food.

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