One of the most visited lanes by tourists in Bukchon, a traditional hanok home village in Seoul, South Korea
This is viewpoint number 1 in the village guide tour. Changdeokgung Palace the most favored palace by the Choesun Dynasty princes. As it is located east of Gyeonbokgung Palace is it also referred to as the east palace.
Following the road that runs parallel to the wall of Changdeokgung takes you to the deep corner of Bukchon with little shops specializing in traditional clothing, handicrafts and cafes. This is the location of site two on the visitor’s map. Also located here is The Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine where you can learn about traditional food through lectures and cooking classes. This area was also where many people lived and worked who were dedicated to taking care of the royal family.
The Go Hui Dong House is also found in this section of Bukchon and is open to the public. Go Hui Dong an artist who passed away in 1965 is best known as the first Korean to use Western style painting techniques. This is a great opportunity to see inside a Hanok especially if you’re not planning on staying in one of the many in the village. Traditional Korean architecture considers it’s surroundings when structures are planned taking into account the land and seasons.
Bukchon means north village and was the home of high ranking officials and nobility during the Joeseon Dynasty. Today many of these Hanoks serve as cultural centers, cafes and homestays. This is a neighborhood and as the guide says wasn’t planned as a tourist attraction, so respect for the locals that live here is appreciated.
Staying in the village will even give you a greater understanding of the culture and history of the area. Hanok homestays are located throughout Bukchon. All rooms usually look onto a courtyard and bathrooms are quiet often shared. More than 35 years ago there were over 800,000 Hanok in South Korea. Today there are less than 10,000 with a total of 900 of these homes in Bukchon village. One of the many reasons why this site is so precious.
There are so many lanes and alleys in Bukchon but I managed to find my way to spot number 3 with no problem, Gahoedong Museum Lane, lined with workshops and traditional craftworks.
After this viewpoint I got a little side-tracked and lost my way. I was supposed to turn into the alley next to the Donmi Pharmacy but went in the wrong direction. These shhh signs are also good markers for letting you know your’e on the right path and to remind you even if frustrated to keep the noise level down. I finally managed to get to point number 4-the area of 31 Gahoe-dong which is supposed to be one of the beautiful spots in Bukchon with this amazing view over the many rooftops. OK, I did get a little help finding my way here.
I was now at point number 5 and this is one of the nicest lanes in the 31 Gahoe-dong section. The sense of a very real different way of living is experienced here. Point number 6 is at the top of the lane with the contrasting views of Hanok and modern Seoul in the distance and the most popular tourist section of the whole village.
One lane over is scenery point 7 and a quiet lane with rooftops overlooking the city.
Scenery point number 8 of some steps carved out of stone was the last stop on the Bukchon Village tour. Walking past more hanoks with a view of the beautiful Chongwhadae or blue house-the office of the president.
I started heading down these stairs but they just looked like normal concrete steps to me. Was that it. Better get some help from those people in the red uniforms across the street so I can finish this off properly. Back up the stairs then down again. The shhh signs, actually they aren’t shhhshing anymore, they’re just smiling. They must be glad I’m on my way out. On the right track now and as happy as those tradtional characters. And there they are, the stones steps and the final stop on the Bukchon Village tour.
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That’s it for this week’s Far East Adventure Travel Podcast, thanks so much for joining me, until next time this is John Saboe, safe travels and Namaste!
More on Seoul’s Bukchon Village:http://bukchon.seoul.go.kr/eng/exp/rcourse02.jsp
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