Changdeok-gung and Insa-dong
Seoul Travel Blog› entry 45 of 174 › view all entries
October 24th, 2009 – by: domnicella
Between Changdeok-gung and Jogyesa is Insa-dong, and it was hard to tear myself away from the happy crowds and performances (there was a stage set up and a concert going on) and shops to make it back to Changdeok in time for the tour. But I did, and Changdeok-gung is definitely a must-see for any visitors to Seoul. It’s the only one of the five palaces to have World Heritage acclaim, and while it isn’t as large as Gyeongbok-gung, which is considered the powerhouse, it is the most beautiful, and proclaims itself to be “in harmony with nature.
From Changdeok palace I high-tailed it back to Insa-dong, which I liked so much more than I thought I would. It's dubbed the "tourist area," so I'd deliberately avoided it thus far, and might have skipped it altogether if it hadn't been for the praise from several other travelers and the fact that it's walking distance from the palace. It's basically a long street that stretches for many blocks and is lined with shops and cafes and then market vendor stalls on top of those. There is a spiderweb network of little alleys running off the main artery every few steps, and so it's a big area with lots to see and do and buy and eat (and bump into) and makes for a great way to spend an hour or two.
I made the executive decision to eat in Insa-dong (as opposed to coming back to Bab, the first restaurant I ate at that I loved so much and promised I'd return) because I figured I'd have an equally satisfying meal and I'd be trying something new. I found a restaurant at the end of one of these alleys along Insa-dong that looked rustic and inviting and who's menu sported affordable prices. Of course, the menu I was handed as soon as I sat down had double and triple (and higher) the prices as were out front, and I should have just said no thank you and left. But there were a few locals eating there and I figured well the place must really be good if they're charging that, and it's my last meal in Korea, so what's the harm? Yeah right.
Bummer food aside, the day was a good one. And I'm THRILLED that things finally turned around for me in Seoul. Hopefully next time I'll be a little savvier, and will have an easier and more enjoyable time across the board.
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