Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bukchon: Ambling Red Shoes

Like most journeys in Seoul, South Korea usually things begin by finding your way out of a subway station. Climbing step after step going up stairs you reach the top, sometimes, to be greeted by kooky adverts.

The message for today seems to be: "Bread is Ready, Coffee is Done." Reassuring? hmm

On this adventure I was on my to Bukchon which is a small hamlet in the Gahoe area of Jogno. Sometimes called the "Bukchon Hanok Village" you know to expect traditional styled housing with narrow winding streets.

Also this area is known for it's cluster of museums and living art exhibitions, and that was just why I was out and about in this area.
I took a taxi from Exit 3 up towards Gahoe-dong Catholic Church, which took a little while to ask the taxi driver. Once this was accomplished I started my walk through the streets of Bukchon.
My lovely new red shoes to help me on my way.
This journey was made also with the thought of how people have argued about how this area is being renovated to the point of no return. I wanted to see for myself what was going on but I am not really sure I knew what to look out for.
Gahoe Museum:
When researching this area and finding out what to see I put the Gahoe museum on my list. It was a great little pit stop for a museum. Quaint and intimate it felt as if I were participating in a private viewing. The exhibit that was current at the museum was a photography show that looked like someone had recently went to Mongol territory.

In addition to the museum space there are available demonstrations you can participate in. I wasn't sure whether there was a time frame to join in or whether you just asked to do it. While I tried to figure this out I took some pictures of the outer courtyard area.

Looking at this stamp area I figured if I just pointed and said "chuseayo" they would get the point. And they did! I did a rubbing of the "prevent 3 disasters". Figured it would make a nice keepsake or gift in the future. Just 4,000 Won ~
It was time to move on and so I set off for the next place to discover.

Museum of Korean Embroidery:
Who can't fall in love with handiwork like the delicate and intricate nature found in needlework?

If you have every used a needle and thread and know how simple the utensils are but how delicate the execution is than you will have an even greater appreciation for embroidery. Therefore a trip to a museum dedicated to embroidery and Korea's historical relationship towards the craft is a must.

I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside but I highly recommend taking a moment to bend over and a get closer look at the thread work. I couldn't help but imagine the craftsman or woman working tediously for hours.
The entrance~
Since photography inside was prohibited I had fun shooting photos outside in the courtyard. You can't help but get swept away with the serenity of these spaces. I know living in hanoks are known for their cold winters and hot summers but I wouldn't mind having the experience. You can stay in one for a few nights as an hotel experience.

Back to the peacefulness of this space, which I would like to emphasize because Seoul is a busy populated place. Finding quiet and empty spaces become your treasures.

Yet again it was time to move on and continue being the ambling traveler. Where to go?
I seemed to turn around looking in all directions and finding myself in the center of this hyper world. Almost like I was in a dream I felt like I could drift off at any moment.

I found my way going downhill.
Then I came upon these peep holes through concrete bricks and I couldn't help but treat them like viewfinders. I peeked through the holes and enjoyed the view from this framed perspective.

I enjoyed this experience so much that I made a little video:

Ah, my red shoes discovered something.
Going downhill further I came to a path that seemed more active. The gingko tree here seemed large and fantastically colored golden.

Soon enough this tree will be just bare sticks. It seemed as I turned the corner I was leaving the quiet walled area of Bukchon and entering the mix of commercial and residential area.

This was the day of the big test for high schools and I wondered if this contributed to the quietude. If you look closely at this next picture in the lower left corner you can see a woman standing there in a gray coat. She stood there the whole time facing the school, while I checked out some shops nearby I wondered what she was doing, and figured she was praying and waiting for her child while they were taking the test inside. She hardly ever moved. I couldn't help but consider what she was thinking and how hopeful she must had been.
Continuing on I made my way further into the active part of the area passing some nice cute shops.

Here is one of those Hanok hotels or guest houses where for a sum of money you can have close to an authentic Korean house experience.

A tea cafe~

If you have lived here long enough the site of cabbage piled up outside a grocery store is nothing new. A little bit of your Western self wonders about the health safety but continues on anyways.
Another typical site is that of hand towels drying on a rack outside a barber shop. I love it when they are all the same color.

Coming to end of the street I turned around and again saw something inspiring.

And then I came to where this adventure began at the exit of the subway station.

Living here for nearly two years now I can say that on this day I felt like I was for once really a tourist. Exploring on my own and discovering beautiful sites in the ordinary landscape of metropolis Seoul, without the feeling of having to teach the next day. I truly recommend finding yourself a walking path to discover and just head out on a journey. Turn every corner and find your own special place here.


  1. Your trip sounded fun, but also very peaceful. What were those huge green fruit things? It's good that your making the most out of all your vacation time:)

  2. I think those are likely to be some kind of gourd. They were just pretty is all ...hehe


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