안녕하세요: Tongin Market & Cheongwadae


HELLO! I have just replied to a couple of email enquiries with regards to travelling in Korea, and I am really happy that I am able to be of some help to anyone intending to visit this beautiful country, so feel free to email or leave a comment.

Just a word of apology though for the fact that my recent Korea posts are in quite a bit of a mess since I am still half-way through blogging about my adventures. I'd be publishing a "summary post" with the links to all the different posts related to this trip compiled when I am done with everything, just like what I did for my Korea trip back in 2014 right here, which can also be accessed via the "Around the World" link on the sidebar. There are about 18 more posts to go, and I hope to complete them as soon as possible so I can move on to my Japan and Taiwan trips as well as share more about my other food escapades.

And so we are starting the month of May with my exploration of the area around Gyeongbokgung 경복궁 after I completed my tour at Seodaemun Prison Museum. I didn't exactly intend to visit since I already did when I brought my mum around 2 months earlier, but I realised I was too hungry the moment I boarded the train lol so I just alighted one-stop later at Gyeongbokgung to have lunch at Tongin Market 통인시장.

Tongin Market 통인시장, dating back to 1941, is one of the oldest traditional markets in Korea. Despite previously suffering from the same fate traditional markets here in Singapore are facing, they have "rebounded" successfully, and is fast becoming the most popular market among both the locals and tourists due to the creation of the famous Dosirak Cafe 도시락 카페 (Lunchbox Cafe).

To get to the market, simply get out of Gyeongbokgung Station (Subway Line 3) via Exit #2 and walk straight. You will pass by Sejong Food Village 세종마을 and Tosokchon 토속촌 which is reputable for their Ginseng Chicken Soup 삼계탕, and you will wonder if you have taken the wrong route or missed a turn that you should have taken. Do not worry, you didn't, so like what Dory from Finding Nemo will tell you, just keep swimming. Or at least until you see this entrance that is impossible to miss.

First things first, head over to Dosirak Cafe on Level 2 to get your coins. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, how things work here is that you exchange ₩5,000 for 10 coins, which you can use to exchange for food at any stalls in the market with the Dosirak logo prominently displayed. And when you are done, you can return to the cafe to exchange a coin for rice or soup, and that would be lunch! Isn't it nice that with this you can now try a wide variety of food in small portions?

Off to get food!

How does my lunchbox look?

After my lunch, I continued to explore the rest of Seochon Village 서촌마을, which essentially meant "West Village" in reference to its location from Gyeongbokgung, just like why the hanok village north of Gyeongbokgung is Bukchon Hanok Village 북촌한옥마을. Going out from the exit in Tongin opposite where one came from will lead to Daeo Bookstore 대오서점, the oldest secondhand bookstore in Seoul with more than 65 years of history. The bookstore was eventually declared as a municipal heritage site, and a small cafe was opened next to the bookstore by the daughter of the elderly couple who founded Daeo, to ensure sufficient funds for the upkeep of the bookstore.

Random wandering then led me to a 3-way intersection where I was stopped by two policemen stationed along the road on my left. Being the "social coward" I am, I almost peed my pants. Okay that was an exaggeration, but I usually would have just retreated and go the right way instead of braving myself up and ask them what's in there. Thankfully, one of the policemen who can speak a bit of English was quite friendly, so much so that we even started chit-chatting about other stuff. Not-that-scary after all!

Anyway, it turned out I was standing right in front of Cheongwadae 청와대 (Blue House). I then asked him if I could go in, since I only visited once very long time ago when I first visited Korea back in 2008 winter, and got the green light after getting my bag checked.

Cheongwadae Sarangchae 청와대 사랑채 is another attraction located within the compounds of Cheongwadae 청와대, a space set up to learn about Korean culture and the history of former Korean presidents. Nothing much in here, to be honest - I left and bid the same policeman goodbye in less than an hour. The most interesting is probably be the plainclothes. You'd see one on the second floor of the building in the picture below. Well, I guess he is a police since he had the stance of an eagle overseeing the entire open area in front of the building. Furthermore, there was a protester who followed me around and kept smiling at me when I was talking pictures outside but stopped when he noticed the guy on the second floor as I entered the building.

Yup, walking down the long stretch of road eventually led me to the National Palace Museum of Korea 국립고궁박물관 and Gyeongbokgung 경복궁, both of which I visited in 2014 and blogged about subsequently in this post here so I gave it a miss this time round and proceeded to Gwanghwamun, where The Story of King Sejong 세종이야기 Exhibition Hall is. I wanted to blog about them altogether in this post but I realised I have taken quite a fair bit of pictures. Thus it might be better to blog about Gwanghwamun in a separate post so this one will not be too length, over-saturated with pictures and load too slowly.

In this case, see you soon!

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