I returned from a two-week trip to Seoul last week with a cold. Fortunately, I came down with it the last day. Here are some highlights of the textile tour taken with ten other people, starting with day one.
I’ve never been to Asia before, so I was really excited to go and see what is different and what is the same as in the US. We stayed at the Hotel Sunbee, a great family-owned and run hotel with big bedrooms and bathrooms. The Sunbee is in the Insadong district, very popular with tourists. But the hotel is tucked back into a quiet side street, so well hidden my taxi driver had to make three attempts to find a way down side streets to find the hotel. I totally recommend the area and hotel should you ever go to Seoul.
Here are a few photos of the main street, just a couple minute walk from where we stayed.
I went a day before the trip officially started hoping the extra day would help me get over jet lag faster. Not sure it really worked, but I had a great day doing some solo exploration. There are a lot, and I mean a lot, of shops in Insadong along with street vendors, galleries, quickie markets, and entertainers. On Saturday and Sunday the main street is pedestrian only. Nevertheless, a few cars and motorcycles insisted upon coming through. As this was a textile tour, I had my eyes out for anything fiber related. The first thing I noticed was this patchwork door painted in half-square triangles next to a shop called the Viin Collection. It had to be the only place closed that I saw all day.
I spotted these beautiful hand embroidered pieces in a shop. The price was around $360.00 US. What I really liked was the raised effect of the circles, in the manner of padded satin stitch.
I admired a number of these embroidered chests in some high-end shops. Unsure if the embroidery is by hand or produced by machine.
This shop was filled with beautiful things, among them Bojagi, the traditional Korean wrapping cloth, which you see hanging behind the dresses and on the wall. Here’s a link to an article on Bojagi written by Youngmin Lee, one of the tour’s three organizers.
The shop also sold stunning handmade paper by the “bolt.” Notice the texture in the detail image.
At one end of the street was a square where a wonderful group performed. The drummers stood in a semi-circle behind two women dancers who played tambourines. Perfect backdrop for the performance.
One of the favorite things I saw during my sightseeing were people wearing Hanbok, the traditional Korean dress. Young girls, teenage couples, and families alike. I learned Hanbok can be expensive to purchase, but you can rent outfits for only $10 to $15 for two hours. And if you wear Hanbok to one of Seoul’s palaces, you get in free. Such a deal. But the two Korean Americans with our group said Hanbok is bulky and uncomfortable, so a two hour rental is probably about right.
I should mention I’ve never seen so many people taking selfies. It was rampant along with the selfie-sticks.
I tried to be discreet when I took the photos, because I wasn’t sure how people would feel. I should mention I was the only Caucasian I saw the entire first day and was surprised not to see more tourists other than Koreans, so it was no doubt obvious when I was taking pictures. But these girls were my favorites. Notice the two girls in front lost in dreamy thought while their friends behind notice me.
Loved these girls dresses and sparkling personalities.
As I walked away from the heavy tourist area, I found myself at a busy intersection and was surprised to see the mountains beyond the city. Later in trip we did a two mile hike in these mountains.
On the other side of this road was a hand craft market, reminding me of Portland’s Saturday market. I couldn’t help but notice that all of the stands were identical in size and style, and all of the vendors were women. The woman below was successful selling her scarves.
This stand was selling Bojagi.
Day two coming up next.