So guess what? These next posts in Seoul weren't supposed to exist. I had missed my flight home and as it was the only flight to Sydney that entire day, I had to book a nearby hotel for the night before I could call Qantas. My parents weren't thrilled at that (they actually left me panicking). And when I called them the next day, the told me that not only I had to pay a fine, the earliest flight would be almost a week later due to Chinese New Year. I believe in life you are thrown circumstances that test who your character. I've worked in customer service and let me tell you, it's horrible. The people you deal with can be the Devil incarnate himself and you're often the outlet for their ire, forced to hold onto your tongue, spew pretty lies for them to hear so that you can keep your job. Because of that, my friends wonder if I've morphed into another person because I'm always so polite to anyone in public - because I know exactly what it's like on the other side.
So knowing this, and knowing that I had no one to blame but myself, I had a taste to potentially be the person that hurled abuse at the service staff just doing their job. So I swallowed my anger and their relief was palpable. Why though? I did nothing noble. I did what every decent person who possessed the base level of courtesy did. So after I simmered down, I thought about my next action. I was looking forward to home incredulously, but now I was given the option of staying another week, to visit and do the things I was on the brink of regretting! I briefly considered staying at the hotel but it was a stomach churning $100/night, I also fleetingly entertained booking another airbnb apartment and instead decided to contact the place I was staying at previously if I could stay another week. To my immense relief, they said yes, and it resulted in a few other shenanigans, fun ones I assure you! Whew, don't you love how I give the most astute advice on 'what not to do?' ahaha. Although I feel wretched for the inconvenience that I've caused them.
I believe this is Budae-jjigae (Army Base Stew) a spicy savoury Korean-American fusion as evident from the presence of spam, beans and sausage. I thought I had left my days of lunch meat behind, but it seems to be more commonplace here. Since leaving, my spice threshold has plummeted.
A simple breakfast with fried fish as the centrepiece with sides of seaweed soup (that I made sure to get my fill of!), a potato and clam soup, rice and typical banchans.
Armed with an extra week, I had been saddened that I had not been able to visit Samcheongdong, which made it the obvious place to see first. And what do you do here? Repeat after me.
Buy cheap accessories.
Eat delicious food.
Hunt down and admire the art that's scattered around.
Bask in the glorious architecture.
Indulge in cafe culture.
Located near the Gyeongbokgung Palace, Insadong and the Bukchon Hanok Village, this seamlessly blends in popular attractions to a very scenic place itself. It's the kind of place for that happens in dramas, where your friend steals your bad and you chase after them only half heartedly as you're surrounded by such interesting views. That got weird. But here, distinctive cafes, shops, very European-esque call home, some even in hanok buildings, giving a sense that Samcheongdong effortlessly blends the present with the past.
Up you walk from Insadong.
Keeping love alive.
Hanok buildings that have been converted into restaurants.
The very first glimpse of art.
Designer stores tucked away.
An adorable way of revealing location.
European-esque buildings indeed.
Signs and tempting pictures when hunger demands.
The first affordable stop for accessories! We're talking beanies, hats, pins, rings, necklaces, anything levels your base outfit by five.
Consider eating here, after all.. We Got Married was filmed at one of these chains. The famous Miss Lee Cafe! Where you shake a lunchbox in hopes of marrying a harmonious lunch! .. was rather expensive for what it was though.. even if Seohyun from SNSD did have it.
Pretty sure her camera is better than mine. And my mum would get so furious if I dared to wear odd socks outside the house. My friend was firm on the belief that they generated good luck, so every netball game, you would learn not to comment.
A treasure chest like abundance of accessories! I would scoop them all into my arms!
10 o'clock/68th Street Select
Though closed when I was here, is another great spot for accessories.
Another Pop Boutique (the other one I encountered was here in Garosu-gil). This branch leaned more towards male clothing and was more tame in comparison.
An unmanned cart with heroes from various fiction. Allow me to make a game of my favourite characters for you to seek like Where's Wally. Dumbo. Brook, Daisy Duck..
Even shop fronts are interesting!
Was this pointed at the wall or sky?
A proud lion of a sun.
Kinda wished that I had taken a fallen angel like pic. Would've made the perfect, brooding selfie.
Now we get to the fashion.
Watches aren't my thing, but brooches and pins are! Quick way to spruce up a collar for a quirky factor. This place had a whole table of 1,000won pins if you can believe it!
Sigh, I swoon for collared shirts.
It had me at vintage.
What my stairway to heaven looks like, clothes at every step.
The words '2nd hand' was what urged me to climb the steps.
I had to leave behind a pastel midi plaid skirt for 10,000won. Yes, don't remind me, otherwise I will weep.
Insistently working through Samcheongdong leads to..
In short, intoxicating scents of pastry, butter and vanilla.
Yes, this cute building is real.
Another cafe for cakes.
Another 9owls! Heartbeakingly expensive vintage even if the cat eye sunglasses are killer.
Another hanok restaurant that proclaims to be healthy.
You can never have too much jumpers in your life.
Way too enthusiastic evolved stickmen.
Beautiful buildings that house earthy fashion.
The only signs that I'll follow in life.
I'm sorry, is this Snow White's cottage or a cafe?
When imaginary teas come to life.
Finally, I stopped at the promising Rice Cake Cafe, longing to have something that wasn't as mundane as cake.
So what I chose was a blueberry cake, which was handmade. I eagerly stabbed with my fork.
And it yielded its lush blueberry innards to me. If this is their version of a lava cake, sold.
Despite my desire for a proper lunch I thought, well, I'm near Insadong.. I've always wanted to try a traditional teahouse, and with that half formed thought, off I trekked.
Interesting mix of languages on this sign. If you were bound by one language or the other, you'd only understand half, but I saw Traditional tea house and I questioned no more.
Peering down the alleyways first of course.
Certainly this place felt that it had been one that epics were written about, buildings that withstood time and bloodshed.
Uhhhh. What is this magical, gold drip affogato that costs more than $10AUD what..
Although outdoor it was comfortably warm.. okay, I had to strip off my jacket (oh hey, another place about staying another week, I got more worth out of my newly bought coat. yeah, it was summer back in Sydney.. Australian summer).
I can't say that I'm the best company but it was fun to eat.
The outside element covered to retain heat. I'd imagine it would be much more tranquil come spring.
Intriguing manhole cover!
You see but you don't comprehend. How much could we be missing through tunnel vision?
Came to the Tongin Market in hopes of experiencing the 5,000won Dosirak cafe at the Tongin Market. But it was closed.. ugly sobbing. Ah. My own fault but realistically, it is impossible to learn every language on this earth to travel comfortably and it feels odd if I speak English with a local.. it'd be like if I spoke English to my grandmother.
Return back to the apartment stomach grumbling for a dinner of jeon and jajangmyeon, easily much better than any back in Sydney and Myeongdong. Home cooking eclipses all.