Jun 9, 2016

My first Hanbok experience in seoul, Insadong & Seokchon Lake

My first full day in Seoul was spent in a Hanbok - traditional Korean costume. Isn't that like the most exciting way to travel XD? Except that I only spent a total of 20 minutes in it heheh. I started the day at Unhyeunggung palace near Anguk train station (exit 5) to enjoy the traditional architecture and for a chance to take some photos of myself in a hanbok. It felt super #foreveralone but whatever!



Unhyeunggung Palace website: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264223
Nearest train station: Anguk Station (Exit 5)

Started to wear the 5000 Won jacket I bought at Hapjeong train station the night before. I stuck with the jacket through out the entire trip because it’s spacious, has big roomy pockets and keeps me surprisingly warm! Photo taken in my hostel, which I really should blog about soon.



Grabbed one of these super delicious egg, cheese and sweet cake pastry by the road side.  It only cost 1000 won and its super tasty! Most definitely one of the best street side snack I’ve had in Korea!



Coincidentally met a fellow hostel mate while I was googling walking directions outside Anguk station. This is Christa! she comes from Russia and she's fanatic about all thing K-pop! 



We parted ways after exchanging contacts and agreeing to meet up later in the afternoon. 


It was a long walk from the train station to the Unhyeunggung and I decided to give into the temptation of a cup of coffee. Despite how romantic the idea of snuggling against a cup of hot coffee in a stylish cafe in the middle of the cool spring day, I never seem to find time for that. I decided it’s time to perpetuate that romanticism, get my morning coffee fix and rest my legs a bit. For a country that prides itself for its distinctively Asian identity , Korea sure is full of coffee cafes ! In fact, I feel it probably has more coffee places than anywhere else I've been! 



I’m sorry but you’ll see a lot of my face in this entry because I had painstakingly applied makeup that day so it seemed a shame to not camwhore xD.



The back streets of insadong leading up to the palace was culturally rich too. With stores selling all sorts of traditional Korean snacks to street trolleys selling traditional wood crafts – the area felt strangely touristy yet local. 




Finally reached Unhyeunggung! Unhyeunggung is much smaller compared to the imperial palace – Gyeongbokgung palace. The royal residence is beautiful and speaks of history in every corner but if this is your first trip to Seoul, a trip to Gyeongbokgung palace would be much more exciting.

“ Unhyeongung Royal Residence was the home of young Gojong, who later became Emperor during the Joseon Dynasty. Under order of Queen Mother Jo, Unhyeongung was renovated into a grand, palace-like house with four gates. Gojong’s father, Yi Haeung, or better known as Heungseon Daewongun, continued to live at Unhyeongung for most of his life. Damaged during the Japanese colonial period and the Korean War, the Unhyeongung Royal Residence seen today is a much smaller version of the majestic structure that it used to be. “




There was a very colonial building just beside Unhyeunggung Palace, not sure what it is though.

This is the little hanbok experiencing zone where I paid 3300 won for 20 minutes of rental. Slightly on the expensive side of matters. The lady first gave me a child sized Jeogori (basic upper garment of hanbok) to try because according to her, I'm small lol. Unfortunately my hands are way too long and ended up looking pretty ridiculous so we changed to another green jeogori. 


And here are my self photography photoshoots! I stuck with my kit lens for these pictures due to the time constraint and visibility problem. It's too hard to stay in focus with my wonky 50mm that is perpetually stuck at 1.8f. 




Acting coy because that's what's expected of Korean court ladies no XD? And darn! My turtleneck sticks out like a turtle! I should've taken it off and stuck with just my Uniqlo heat tech. Time flew when I was shooting myself - I tried so hard to keep myself in the frame and in focus! Flip screen was not very helpful because of my ridiculous eyesight and my unresponsive remote control but I worked with what I have and did my best. 




I imagine the royalties of yesteryears would have enjoyed sitting on these ledge while appreciating the seasons.






After returning the hanbok, I took to exploring the palace. I’ll let the photos do the talking.



Kids have so much energy. He and his friend (not in picture) have been running around the entire place since they arrived XD!



This couple is actually having a photoshoot. I’m guessing it’s their wedding photoshoot =)




Crafting workshop available for 5,500 Won.



It seems like a performance would be held later in the day as traditional orchestra and korean dance performers were rehearsing when I was there in the early afternoon. Pity I had other arrangements and couldn’t catch the performance.



I took the same route back and ventured further to the main streets of Insadong to meet my new friends. The journey took a surprising 30minutes of walk! I’m so much healthier when I travel hahhaa.



Spent the next hour or so chatting over coffee with Christa and Franciska, new friends from Russia and Philippines hehe. We decided to shop around Insadong after wards.



I can’t remember the name of this shopping mall but it’s pretty cool. The items sold here are varied and slightly upscale.



On the 2nd floor is a shop that sells customised musical box. You can select the different boxes and ornaments and then select the music it plays.



A Neoprint shop in the top floor allows free rental of traditional korean costumes when you use their machines. Something definitely worthy of taking note!



Even though it was a weekday, there was a lot of young people wearing traditional Hanbok. I wonder if this happens everyday or was it a special day.



There is also a huge love locket fence area in the roof top. It seems like love locket, are just as common everywhere.





The lockets here are mostly made plastic though and some of them have been cut off. Half a plastic heart can only imply a love lost ^^;



Shit pancake sold for 1000 won each. Was very tempted to get one but restraint myself, afterall, I’m running out of money T^T! My growling stomach made every step difficult but it was soon time for dinner!



We had dumplings and ricecake soup. The taste was pretty average and the humongous dumplings were not as flavourful as I’d liked them to be. I also didn’t appreciate the lack of side dishes(there’s only kimchi!) that I’ve come to enjoyed so much in Korea. They didn’t break any banks though the restaurant is located in the heart of Insadong so I guess it’s okay. I parted ways with Franciska and went to check out the Seokchonhosu Lake Cherry Blossom Festival!




Seokchonhosu Lake Cherry Blossom Festival: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_2_1.jsp?cid=1599207
Nearest Train station: Jamsil Station

“Seokchon Lake Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual event held at Seokchon Lake area, Seoul. The event normally takes place during early to mid April, when cherry blossoms are beautifully embroidering the city. In addition, a variety of performances, exhibitions, and hands-on activities will take place during the festival period.”



In the middle of the lake was a theme park called Magic Island! How aptly named! Sadly it seemed I was a few days too late as the blooms have largely fallen.




Food was sold as part of the festival but again, since I arrived near 9pm, most of them were closed or is closing. And nothing really caught my attention. The place was dimly lit with way too much people.  A little stage with performance was held in a corner but the traffic condition and the cramp roads made it impossible for me to stop and listen. I was ushered through the backstage along with everyone else who doesn’t already have a seat facing the stage hahaha. It was also too dark to appreciate the small lake thought the neon lit Magic Island in the middle was pretty to look at.

This marks the end of my 2nd night in Korea. Can’t say it was the best day of my trip but I had fun!

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