The plan for this day was to visit the Bukchon Hanok Village. Our hotel in Insadong was a walking distance from it. So we headed fresh for the day and ready to explore Seoul. Sadly and with much regret, we had breakfast at Starbucks just because I really wanted to have my Starbuck’s name as per tradition. But in Seoul, they don’t allow disposable cups anymore which is great!
After breakfast, we walked to the Bukchon Hanok Village. It is a pretty place but it is important to remember that it is a residential area so people actually live there. It is very necessary to be respectful and as it says in many places, Please be quiet. We found some kind of a museum on a hill with tea on offer and a great spot to see the Seoul Skyline, although, it was not much of a view during the day. The place also has a traditional house which is fully decorated just like the ones in the historical K-Dramas.
Next stop was a Tea House called Cha Teul. We didn’t just happened on this place but I googled best tea houses in Seoul beforehand. Cha Teul made me so happy and it was not pricey at all. It was packed so we waited for a while to get a table but it was so worth it. I ordered a Quince Pear tea and it was perfect!
Then we walked to the Changgyeonggung Palace and the Secret Garden. The Cherry Blossom is already in full bloom so the palace ground was full of visitors. We didn’t find the Secret Garden anything special. Maybe during a different season, for example during summer or autumn, the garden would look beautiful. After the Secret Garden tour, we tried to visit the Changgyeonggung Palace. Unfortunately, we actually bought tickets to Chandeokgung Palace. In the end, we decided to call it a day visiting palaces so we didn’t get to use the tickets we bought.
So instead, we hopped on a bus to Myeongdong. But there was a rally. Up until now, we don’t know what was the protest all about (I can’t read Korean!) but there were lots of people and lots of police too. The bus got diverted so we took another bus and eventually walked some kilometres to Myeongdong. It was late and we were hungry. We happened on a restaurant that has a wall showing photos and autographs of famous people who ate there. The food was really good and the owner was really friendly. Also, notice the cute red apron I’m wearing. These aprons are readily available at restaurants to avoid food stains. How smart! We were also full and happy!
In the Summer of 2022, I was featured in the Daebak magazine, a Korean subscription box company. I talked about how I wish to visit South Korea in 2023 to eat authentic Korean food, to stay at a Hanok and to experience the Cherry Blossom. Fast forward in December that year, I bought tickets to Seoul and started planning the trip to South Korea with my husband. The plan was to experience the Cherry Blossom season. Although I know that it could be a hit or miss, I bought the tickets anyway and booked the accommodations. There were changes along the way as two weeks would not be enough to see it all. And although I really wanted to visit Jeonju, I didn’t like the idea of being sat on the bus for more than 4 hours from Gyeongju. That road trip will be going across the country after all! By the 20th of March, the mask mandate for public transport was lifted. Although I still carried with me a few masks just in case (from the Daebak box, of course!) we didn’t have to use them. Also, I didn’t see many people wearing masks anymore. To be honest, I don’t really like wearing masks and we haven’t been wearing masks in Helsinki since last year.
The flight from Helsinki took off at 17.55 on the 23rd of March and arrived the next day at midday in Incheon International airport. It took 11 hours and 45 minutes as the flight avoided the Ukraine and Russian airspace. But it didn’t really feel that long. I just knew that when we landed, my headphone was at 40% battery. I was listening to K-Pop all through the flight.
After the checking of the Q Code, immigration and baggage reclaim, we rented a Portable Wifi Router for our entire stay in South Korea from the SKT booth located at the arrival area. I also bought a TMoney card for my husband from the convenience store inside the airport (I already have one from the Daebak box with Jimin’s photo!) and have them refilled with money mainly for transportation. It was important to check what was the best way to travel to our accommodation. I have heard stories of people taking the subway and changing trains (dragging along heavy suitcases) when buses stop right infront of their hotels! So for us, the bus was the best option. It stopped very close to our hotel in Insadong.
We checked in and explored the Insadong area, most especially the Ikseongdong Hanok Village where we found lots of nice restaurants and cute cafes. At the Insadong Shopping Street, I also had a Dojang made, a traditional stamp with my name in Hangul. We did a quick stop at Ssamzigil Shopping Mall for some traditional snacks sold on the ground floor. They were good!
It was a long day and we headed to bed to get ready for the next day!