Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Insadong is for the Birds

After checking out the Samil Undong celebrations going on in Tapgol Park I headed across the street to Insadong. There I met up with my friend Cynthia and her two adorable sons. We also caught up with her friend Hannah who also has a son, but wasn't accompanying her today.

Insadong street was crowded on this day, seeing how it was a National holiday. But this area is typically crowded so there wasn't much shock in having to walk a slow pace down the street.

There are a lot of touristy shops in Insadong selling the usual stuff, but another shopping aspect of this area are the street vendors. Here you can find people selling hand made jewelry along with street treats.

If you look closely at this picture you can see that this vendor has pictures of herself showing that she was on a TV show. I am wondering now if her treats are especially unique?
As we made our way down the street we all mentioned how none of us have had lunch. So we immediately tried to locate a place to eat for 3 adults and 2 kids. We saw one place peeking out of an alley way that we decided to eat at. I don't recall the name but it was Korean cuisine.

The interior was warm and inviting, for there were natural wood elements.
I believe we ordered a bulgolgi (beef) set. After eating with 2 American gals who have been in Korea a long time and know their Korean dishes, I feel the need to start knowing the names of each item.

My companions had a place in mind that they wanted to revisit and so we were back on the street. But it wasn't long before they found the place they were looking for. Along the way we saw this bowl outside a restaurant with flowers floating atop the water. We found it to be a lovely site.
Apparently, where were headed was on old tea shop that had birds inside that fly around the place. So here for you is my review of the Old Tea Shop in Insadong.

옛잣짐 Old Tea Shop:
If you asked me how to get to this place I really couldn't tell you specifically. However, here is a picture with my friend's sons out front of the shop.
2F 2-2 Kwan Hun-Dong, Chong Ro-gu, Seoul 722-5019

There was a waterfall and pool display out front.
The shop is actually separated into two parts. The downstairs (ground level) tea shop does not have birds flying around, but still has that nostalgic feeling.

A little to the left of the bottom floor tea shop is a stairwell. Take this and it leads you to the part where the birds fly around.
Another unique interior is to be found. Antique furniture and knick-knacks lay about this place. Along with low-lit lamps and candles burning. The aroma was very pleasant and relaxing.

If you go here try to get a seat near the window. For this is where most of the birds hang out. Near our table was an old tree branch that the birds loved to perch on.

I'm not a bird expert but these looked like part of the finch family. Maybe something like this.

I suppose you can liken this place to the cat cafe in Japan that I stumbled upon. Comparing the two, I would have to say that the cat cafe was more interactive with the pets, while the Old Tea Shop the birds add more to the atmosphere of the experience.

At the tea shop traditional teas can be ordered along with tea snacks. We brought with us some Korean snacks so we were all set. I ordered a Cinnamon tea which was oh so warming and delightful.
It was great to get some girl talk done and watch the birds fly about us.

A painting that was hung on the wall.

As we were leaving one of the birds was being very ambitious and came to our area. It was apparent that he was heading towards our crumbs.

After tea we all went our separate ways and headed home. This must have been my 4th time in Insadong but it was still a delight. There seems to be so many hidden treasures in this one area, not to mention Samcheongdong, the space past Insadong.

On my walk back to the subway station I came upon this street stall selling squid snacks. I couldn't help but be tickled by the fuzzy pink squids hanging about the stall.


  1. Some of the birds look like goldfinches and painted buntings, but I'm not 100% sure.

    As touristy as it can be, I really like Insadong. It feels much more artsy and cultured than much of the rest of Seoul.

  2. Thanks for the bird tip.
    It's true its one of the more "cultural" places in this maze.

  3. Thanx for the tour!
    You know I'd love the bird tea shop...the last bird who came to eat your crumbs looks like a canary....the same little body features as my dear departed OJ. Remember him?
    FYI-- He's buried under the bouganvilla at Puja's "old" house here in Ft. M..
    My friend Louisa could identify the birds for sure.
    Please go back to the tea shop again & take more fotos!!
    Or...when spring arrives please take fotos of the wild birds you might see on your walk to school! I'd find that v. interesting!

    I'm also v. happy that you have made some nice GFs over there!
    Hi ladies......thanx for befriending Joy & making her feel so welcome so far from "home"!


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