I liked the second half of the walk best because we visited a gorgeous hanok in the neighbourhood, saw some paranomic views of the hanok rooftops and walked around a very school called the Joongang High School which was used as a film site in Winter Sonata (not that I can recognize the place since I could not bring myself to watch the weepy drama).
We were told that this is the vantage point (in Gahoe-dong) where one gets one of the best views of the rooftops in Bukchon. We had to keep very quiet as this was the porch of someone’s home. We all took turns standing on the steps, straining our necks trying to get our best shot of the rooftops.
I thought to myself then: we were standing right in the middle of a cosmopolitan city, looking at these houses that have been around since Joseon times. I just stood there, drinking in the sight of the rooftops before me, wishing that I had the time to linger and slowly savour the view.
Our next stop was a visit to this hanok. It is a private property belonging to a wealthy Korean lady who opened it to tourists. The premises of the hanok are not huge, and everything about it looked so delicate. I could feel the floor boards creak at having to carry the weight of all 12 of us.
The first thought that struck me after I crossed the main doorway of the hanok, standing in the small, tidy and well-manicured garden was this: the Koreans in those old days must have been very petite to live in such small, albeit elegant, rooms. The rooms had fairly low ceilings, and were separated by sliding doors made of wood and mulberry paper. Aside from the main hall in the hanok, I thought the rest of the rooms could accommodate at most one or two people comfortably.
I felt like an awkward elephant standing in the rooms!
This is the view of the garden from one of the rooms. The Koreans believe that each room should look out into nature, to be in harmony with heaven, earth and nature. It is a view that I agree with, but that is hard to achieve in an urban landscape in a city. We can only make do with what we have, and be contented with our little pots of plants and flowers kept in the balcony and bathroom.
Some girls in my group photographing the garden.
To round off the visit, we were offered tea, freshly prepared in the hanok‘s kitchen, which we drank while seating on floral-patterned cushions on the wood-panelled floor. Clumsy me had to be extra careful that I didn’t accidentally knock into and overturn the small serving tables.
Leaving the serenity of the hanok, we stepped back into the streets of Bukchon, jostling with the thronging crowds and made our way to the next stop, the Joongang Middle School.
I am going to do a Part 3 of this Bukchon walk ‘cos I am not sure my delicate blog can withstand the onslaught of having to load so many photographs in one post. 🙂