18th Oct 2019 (2nd Day in Seoul)
The sun goes down quite fast in Seoul. It was around 630 pm as we made our way to Insadong, and already the sky got pretty dark. Halfway there, we saw a Shake Shack burger joint where we almost had dinner in, if it were not for the fact that the restaurant was so jam-packed.
0650 pm, we reached Insadong. The entire place has a “chill and chic” vibe to it, with many shops selling artisan goods and many art galleries. I especially like how there are so many weeping willows dotted throughout; their hanging branches swaying in the wind really amped up the street’s “chill and chic” factor.
Right at the start of the street, we saw a pair of Caucasian tourists walking around in traditional Korean outfit. I guess it is one of the activities visitors do around here. At the same time we explored Insadong, Constant Companion RR and I were looking out for a place to dine.
We wanted to settle for this restaurant which specialises in porridge, but because we did not want to commit too fast in case there might be something even better down the road, we took a mental note of the restaurant and continued down the road. A little bit further down, we spotted a poster on the wall advertising a vegan restaurant located somewhere deep an alley, hidden away from the main street.
We rushed (well, Constant Companion RR rushed while dragging me behind) into the alleyway and searched for restaurant. It did not take long before we found ourselves at its front door and Constant Companion RR flew right in. Resigned to my fate, I followed behind her. That evening, we had a completely vegan dinner.
A Green Dinner
Right at the foyer, all guests have to remove their shoes and have them kept in the restaurant’s shoe cabinet. We stepped right in and one of the two ladies on duty that evening, ushered us to a table. The restaurant has no chairs; the tables are low and dining is to be done, seated on the floor. The dinner crowd was substantial; a good sign.
The eatery is very casual, the owner had the place decorated with things that are “nature-related”. Things like healing crystals, fairies and dream-catchers, if you catch my drift. Then there was a really interesting painting of trees and flowers with a lady with obvious Asian facial features, wearing what seems to be something a Druid would wear. It was all very intriguing.
Anyhow, we quickly looked through the menu and placed our order with the same lady who brought us to our table and, well, floor.
Dinner was good. The vegetables were fresh. A few of their side dishes were rather enjoyable. Personally, I would like to have some kind of dipping sauce to go with the hotpot. Without any extra condiments, relying only on the vegetables natural flavour, everything just tasted like they just have been boiled. To this, Constant Companion RR said my tongue is too used to heavy flavours.
I have never seen Constant Companion RR enjoying a meal as much as this, going for multiple servings from the bubbling vegetable hotpot.
After Dinner – Black and White Photography of Insadong
With our stomachs filled, it was more walking and photography. This time, I switched on the black and white filter on my camera and tried some black and white photography.
Can’t say I have managed to capture anything exceedingly interesting in my shots; some of them are even a little blur. However, I like the tone and mood of black and white photography and I will certainly be doing more.
While I could have taken the photos in full colour and then convert them black and white on the computer, there is something appealing and liberating about opting to completely forgo all the colours and focus only on the lighting and subject.
Next on the list, Ikseon-dong Hanok Street
Ikseon-dong Hanok Street is an overwhelming place. There is a ridiculous amount of details, big and small all over the place. Around every corner, you will find something new and interesting. While the buildings are all traditional Korean-style, everything else within is modern and trendy.
But first, a snack!
We ordered a snack from this swanky looking bakery/ cafe right at the entrance of the village. It is some kind of two slices of chocolate bread, toasted to a biscuit-like texture, with a thick slab of butter and a chunk of red bean paste sandwiched in between.
During our time in Seoul, we have visited a few bakeries. While most of their baked goods look delectable, Constant Companion RR and I have seen some bread which is served with absurdly thick slices of butter. Just like our late night snack.
Much to my surprise, the butter did not leave us feeling greasy and disgusted, like the ones we have back home if eaten at the same amount.
Exploration and Photography
We spent approximately about an hour in Ikseon-dong Hanok Street. Although there are a lot of fashionable and trendy shops, we did no shopping. The many restaurants and cafes it offers, each looking rather inviting, Constant Companion RR and I did not consume anymore food. We were satisfied with just exploring the place and each other’s company.
The Long Walk Back to Hotel
By now, one should have realised how much walking both Constant Companion RR and I do during our travels. Here is a bonus trivial information for you; we hike so much that I often develop a blister on my smallest toe on my right foot; this trip was no exception!
Seoul is such a lovely city to walk. Well maintained pathways, cool weather and there is always something to see. My only complain is that we had to deal with some really steep slopes as we traverse the city, but on the bright side, whatever goes up must come down.
A random ice cream treat.
A street away from our hotel, we suddenly stopped by a convenient store as Constant Companion RR wanted to buy some fruits, but we ended up with a tub of Halo Top ice cream (which she recommended). Right outside the convenient store, in the chill of Seoul’s autumn night, Constant Companion RR and I sat down at the steps and finished up our pint of peanut flavour ice cream with unbelievably low calorie. At my first taste, I could understand how the manufacturer managed to produce ice cream with such low caloric value. While it can be a “healthier” fix for the ice cream crave, it definitely lack the creaminess and stronger flavour of the other brands.
It was around this time when Constant Companion RR informed me that I did not have any meat the entire day. After recalling a bit, I realised that she was right. Amazing.