We finally got the chance to go to Insadong to explore.
Insadong is a neighborhood in seoul that is very popular for teashops, art galereies and a great place to shop for souvners. Gyeongbokgung Palace and Jogyesa Temple are within walking distance to Insadong’s main road. From everything I had read it’s great place to go for souviners and arts and crafts.
I was really looking forward to checking out the area and had this image in my mind that it would be a lovely day of admiring art, enjoying some tea, and going window shopping. As always, the expectation did not match the reality.
We woke up in the morning and it was so foggy that we could barely see the railing outside our windows. For a little bit we were worried we’d have to scrap the whole trip because I was paranoid about road conditions to the train station. After a cup of coffee we decided to go ahead and get ready for the day anyway and see if the fog burns off at all. So we did the morning routine and checked the fog a little later. It had definitely cleared up a bit but I was still too hesitant to go to the bus stop. Anthony decided to call us a taxi and we headed out the door only an hour later than we had originally planned.
Once at the train station we picked up our tickets. We still had a little time before our train arrived so we went to the bakery to pick up some breakfast sandwiches. There is this egg and toast dish that they make with thick garlic bread, a slice of ham and a poached egg in the center that I can’t get enough of. Breakfast in hand we headed to the train platform.
Turns out our train was there already and as we stepped off the escalator it started to close its doors.
Ensue running scene with us rushing to our car, breakfast in one hand and bags in the other. Thankfully the doors opened once more and we jumped into the first available one.
It’s never an adventure unless one thing goes wrong.
Once in our train car we took our seats. Of course our seats weren’t next to each other, they rarely ever are. (I will figure out the system to fix that sooner or later, I swear.) Thankfully I almost always stash a book or something in my bag every time we go out so I was able to read while on the train.
Once we got to Seoul station we got to the subway to head to invading. We’re getting better at the subway system around here where it’s almost seamless for us to pick the correct direction we need to go in.
Arriving in Insadong was interesting. You exit the subway station, walk down the street a little ways and then make a left turn. As soon as you turn you’re hit with a wave of sights, smells, and sounds. We were advised that weekends are the best time to go because that’s when all the street vendors are out and we weren’t disappointed. Vendors with hand crafted goods, food and trinkets were lined along the sidewalk. The shops had tables and stands outside their shops with their wares on display.
There was an artist painting ona canvas surrounds by pieces of his work and people were stopping to admire. There was a cart with hand crafted journals and another with incense and decorative burners. A shop with boxes upon boxes of handmade ceramic cups and bowls. Across from that was a shop of paintbrushes of all sizes including some as big as myself.
My senses were being attacked with the scent of sweet waffles and red beans, egg bread, and fish cake. The street, which had been blocked from traffic, was filled with people walking around, shopping, and vendors. At one point I was so over whelmed it felt like I got sucker punched in the stomach and I just looked at my husband like a deer in headlights. He laughed a little at me and led me into a relatively empty art gallery. The silence and calm was much-needed respite to regather my senses.
After admiring some art and selecting some pieces to send back home to friends and family we braved the street again. Off the main road are lots of little alley ways where traditional tea shops and restaurants are located. These pathways look almost forgotten in comparison to the crowded main road. We stopped in one place for some tea and snacks. Another location, called TeaStory, was actually a tea shop and mini museum where I was able to purchase some tea to take home with me.
We didn’t get to see everything before the excitement of the day caught up to us. After dinner and a promise to return soon we headed home. It felt like there was no way to see everything in one day, at least not with the late start we had gotten. Insadong is definitely on the top of my list of favorite places to go, even with the crazy crowds.