Seoul Lovely Days 5&6: The Color-storm

If you can only visit one palace in Seoul, make it this one. 
The tail end of our trip: a visit to the second of Seoul's majestic palaces, Changdeokgung. This palace complex had a gigantic 'secret' garden, built for the leisure of the royal court. Lush greenery, winding stone pathways, a number of ornately painted pavilions in bright colors, the bending trees flush with fall colors.


1. A Filipino family, also garbed in Uniqlo
2. Red bean manju bought from a food truck = hunger buster!
3. Everyone, garbed in Uniqlo.

Ssamziegil: Haven of cute and sometimes expensive things
After that, exhausted by all the walking (as usual), we headed to Insadong for extremely late lunch  and some shopping. Spotted: A foreigner playing violin (he's a fixture, I believe), street vendors selling all kinds of cute things like socks, keychains, magnets and kimbap, strange "fish ice cream" (ice cream in a tube?) and cute buildings. We loved Ssamziegil and all the artsy things stored within. My parents scoured the traditional souvenir shops for a lamp to bring home, and ended up getting picture frames instead. I bought some magnets and a pair of socks. The siblings got postcards, keychains and socks as well. We're definitely suckers for cute things.

The Insadong Violin Man
Wall art in Ssamziegil
Insadong: Laden with souvenirs, both kitschy and not.


1. A Turkish ice cream stand (I think every country we've visited has one). The Turkish dude knew Korean!
2. Helpful old man, only slightly creepy, trying to talk to us siblings (we wandered off)
3. Street vendors disapproved of us taking photos of their wares. Maybe because their wares were ripoffs and they didn't want to be found out? Or to protect against other people copying their stuff? 
4. Insadong closes rather early. 

After Insadong, we thought of dropping by Bada Pasta, a nice looking restaurant/cafe on the way to Studio 41st. AJ, one of the hosts, recommended it to us. It was around 9 pm though, and the place was about to close. The parents inquired, and the staff explained that they couldn't accommodate us, as it was going-home time. OK. We walked on, considering getting some take-out chicken or pizza, when the Bada Pasta people called us back. It was the owner, a slim and pretty Korean lady in her late twenties or early thirties. She'd cook for us, come on in. 

Left: Seafood Pasta & Bada Pasta

Such hospitality! Her name is Anna, and she made us Bada pasta and seafood pasta, and threw in a complimentary pot of Italian coffee. She'd learned cooking in Italy, and Bada Pasta was her first restaurant. It was a pretty awesome experience.

Our last day in Seoul consisted of a hurried but satisfying shopping trip in Namdaemun. My parents found an entire building dedicated to kitchenware, and after an hour in the ceramics section, bought a set of plates, serving platters and bowls. We weren't able to check out the building devoted entirely to stationary, but we did go down one of the food alleys. I bought dried cranberries (THE GREATEST), chocolate rocks, dried squid and the parents bought several bags of rice candy (so-so) and ginseng candy (no comment).

Namdaemun: Seoul's find-anything-here market

So yeah. After getting loads of stuff in Namdaemun, we trooped back to our guesthouse, said good-bye to the cats, to Sun (the host on duty) and left a note on their bulletin board, which was filled with similarly grateful notes from all their past guests. Dad booked a van to bring us back to Incheon airport, where did a bit more shopping (BB cream!) and then boarded the flight back home. We'll miss you, Korea! You're a really cool country, and I hope I get to go back there someday! 

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