Seoul Lovely Days 3 & 4: Bukchon Village & Nami Island

It was Sunday, and we'd woken up too late to catch the English worship service at a church in Gangnam, so we opted to attend the one at Yongnak Church, which is near Myeongdong. The service there was at around 3pm though, so we used the morning to venture out to Bukchon Village. Bukchon is a neighborhood of traditional houses or hanoks, grouped together in a hilly area, producing winding stone-paved alleys and hidden doorways. The higher areas gave us a view of the tiled rooftops of the rest of the village, and it was indeed picturesque.

 We discovered several shops hidden in the corners--there was one promoting traditional Korean handicrafts. After walking around the area for a good bit, we headed to one of the busier streets lined with various souvenir shops and restaurants. It was lunch time, so the place was pretty busy. We ate in an unremarkable pasta x rice meal place (I forgot the name, but it was a chain). After lunch, we decided to head to Yongnak.

Yongnak, as I mentioned earlier, is in the Myeongdong area, and kind of "near" Namsan tower (we could see it in the distance). We got lost on the way, so I stopped by a Domino's to ask for directions. Koreans are generally very friendly and the pair behind the counter were quite helpful--Yongnak was a few blocks away, on the other street that made up the corner Domino's was on. The church building itself wasn't hard to miss. Yongnak is apparently one of the older churches in Seoul, and the mother church of our former pastor, who now heads the Yongnak chapter in Toronto.

After church, we headed to Dongdaemun for some shopping, but didn't get anything (it was a lazy Sunday evening), and passed by the Cheonggyechon river after.

Day 4 - Nami Island

According to my sister's Korean friends, Filipinos who travel to Korea seem so proud that they'd visited Nami Island, it being the set of the 2004 drama Winter Sonata. The only K-drama we were into that time was My Girl, but the loveliness of the island (especially in early Autumn) was apparent even without getting the drama references.

We took the train from Hongik station to Gapyeong station--transferring lines in between--and then took a cab from there to the ferry area. It was interesting because you could observe the decline in cosmopolitan-ness of the passengers, the farther away from Seoul we traveled. At one point there was an old lady peddling snacks down the aisles of the cart. Boarding the ferry to Namiseom Island, I noticed we were with the locals--kids on a field trip, vacationing couples, families. The leaves were lovely shades of orange and red, and our tummies were grumbling for lunch.

 After taking loads of pictures, we decided on eating at a pizza place further into the park. There were lots of things going on around us: kids were running and screaming in playgrounds, people were biking on single bikes, tandem bikes and passenger seat bikes, eating ice cream, eating street food. We got some ice cream after lunch and decided to walk around and explore some more. There was also an exhibit set up by a foundation.

Eventually, the siblings and I decided to rent bikes. We paid the deposit fee because we didn't have any valid card-sized ID on us. The guy at the bike renal place was getting pretty frustrated with me, haha. But after I shelled out the moolah and we got our bikes, everything was A-ok. We biked down towards the coast, where there were rafts for rent. We also found a nice open field bordered by yellow trees, where we biked around in circles. It was great to feel the cool air and the grass under wheels.

 After turning our bikes in, we were pretty tired. We walked around more, took more pictures (it isn't ever year you get to experience Fall!) and waited till darkness settled around the island. People were getting on the ferry, and it was time to go home.

Getting off Hongik station, we wandered around the Hongdae area looking for a place to eat. Of course, the delicious memory of our first night's samgyeupsal was beckoning us to try out more of that delicious grilled stuff--so we did. Sadly, it wasn't as good as our late night middle of the road experience, but it did fill our tummies. All hail the bacon.

We walked towards Studio 41st afterwards. Mom wanted some coffee, so we ducked into a cute, hipstery coffee shop on the way back. It was called Jass Cafe, and its shelves were laden with painted figurines; its walls were hung with art posters and illustrations. The coffee was pretty good. I got a peppermint latte. The girl manning the counter had a strong Californian accent; I commented on her good English and she mentioned she was from Los Angeles--although you could tell that it wasn't her first language.

Anyway, good coffee, pretty shop. A full meal was a nice way to end a pleasant but long day.

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