Monday, 29 July 2013

Insadong and Bukchong Cultural Village

Saturday in Seoul saw us heading to Insadong. Its quite a touristy area with loads of little shops selling curios and pottery.

We found what mum was looking for almost immediately - a giant paintbrush!?
And hundreds, make that thousands, of paintbrushes inside:

Items on offer down the street vary from pretty handmade ceramic bowls and paintbrushes! tea sets to wooden masks and plastic toys made in China.

Brightly decorated walls stand out along the street. This was a gallery selling all sorts of knick knacks and gifts.

And this was a garage door someone had taken the time to decorate brightly - now if only I had a garage back home to paint.

These rolls of hand woven linen could be mistaken for tissue paper...

The street is a popular tourist spot and is one of the destinations frequently recommended by most travel guides.

Several of the side streets offer more choices of restaurants and shops. Often a traditional old building like this one can be found nestled between modern buildings.

We chose our lunchtime restaurant based entirely on the pictures displayed on a poster outside. 

And were pleasantly surprised by the delicious meal and the great value despite the street being so touristy.

You guessed it, more dumplings!

Fortunately there was no room for dessert or I would have been sorely tempted to try an ice cream in one of these crazy curly cones.

Next up, and in an attempt to prevent us from turning into dumplings, we went on a walking tour of the nearby Bukchon traditional village.

If you take a map from the information centres, the route is easy to follow and there are more little shops and tea rooms along the route.

The old buildings have been preserved along this route but there are still modern buildings jutting up in between them making a real contrast between the old and new.

There are a variety of museums and workshops along the way displaying ancient techniques of embroidery, natural dyeing, paper doll making and there is even a knot workshop.

Our final stop for the day took us to a yarn store called Banul Story.

With gigantic knitting needles as door handles of course!

And loads of gorgeous knitted toys which we were desperate to buy but which were only for display.

My favourite of these 4 Halloween characters has to be the rat with a skeleton jumper!

It is hot and humid here at the moment during the monsoon or jangma season so the thought of anything knitted or woven is a little too much to handle - time to head back to the crazy curly ice cream cones!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Seoul Far, Seoul Good

Jen and I are in Seoul, South Korea, to find printers for our fabric designs.

On Friday we headed to the Handmade Korea show at the Korea World Trade Centre.

Everything you could imagine and even those things you couldn't that can be handmade was on display.

Design here tends to be quite simple and naïve but most charming.

I wanted to bring a few of these ferocious fellows back home to stand guard over our wine stores but I think they'd even deter me from pouring another glass! Not a desirable outcome.

These lights using recycled parts have tons of character.

The on/off switches vary from taps and bicycle chain keys to chain pulls.

We have found Seoul to be on the expensive side but these lights were surprisingly reasonable unless I unwittingly made an error in calculation and left off a zero or two due to jet lag!

Indeed, Seoul is not the Asian city to shop in if you are looking for a bargain.

Even the food is pricey. We ate lunch at the Intercontinental's restaurant on the 30th floor.

The view is great - but it comes at a cost!

This little plate of pasta, albeit delicious, set us back R360! ($36)

Also on display at the Handmade show...these buttons handmade in South Africa!

We met our lovely Korean agent for the first time.

The trade centre has the largest underground shopping mall in Asia, COEX Mall, located below it. Leaving our buttons in the best possible hands, we went for a stroll through COEX.

Unfortunately the mall is currently under construction and a large part of what we saw was closed off, but head to the Hyundai Department Store and feast your eyes on the glorious sights in the food hall...

If you have a craving, you'll be able to satisfy it here.

Aisles of candy and sweets sit adjacent to the heavenly smells from the bakeries and chocolatiers...and oddly, the fishmonger!

Dried fish anyone?! Not today? Me neither.

I'm more of a candy girl myself. The candy apples looked irresistible.  

Dentists everywhere are rubbing their hands in glee at these pics!

The cupcakes have given me a little inspiration for Luke's animal themed birthday party coming up next month.

I love the clever use of glasses for the light chandelier in the wine shop.

After browsing around and taking embarrassing amounts a few photos, we headed back to the hotel for a quick refresh before I headed out for dinner with a dear friend I met when I studied in France.

Our destination - a small Japanese restaurant located in a part of Seoul that I would never be able to locate again...and as for the menu - no English version accompanied by pictures here! Thanks to Yoon we soon had a couple of cold crisp beers in front of us and a plate of sashimi that I will dream about for years to come.


And if that wasn't enough, these amazing zucchini fritters with a soft melting chicken middle arrived soon after. Absolutely delicious.

Wonderful food and even better company. 

Company and food that's good for the Seoul!
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