Apr 102018

Me: Insadong is the best dong.

Henry: Thanks.

Seriously, Insadong is pretty freaking great. And since I like to occasionally sprinkle some actual facts on this broke-down Internet page of fake news, a “dong” is actually a “neighborhood” in Korea. This particular dong, while fairly touristy & gimmicky, also provides a glimpse into the traditional aspects of Korea as well. The streets are lined with souvenir shops selling traditional Korean masks (you know I bought one for my mask collection!), clothing boutiques, and local art shops. Plus FOOD VENDORS, restaurants, cafes, and tea houses. Basically, all of the staples of Seoul.

We got there around 9:00 on a Sunday morning, and the main street of Insadong was still sleepy. There were people out walking, but none of the shops were open yet. This was fine because the first thing we wanted to do was throw Chooch a bone by taking him to the Alive Museum, which was already open. It’s just one of those trick eye museums with a billion photo ops. I was annoyed about it at first because god forbid we were doing something for someone else, but then I couldn’t help but join in after a few minutes of faux-sulking.


After spending a good hour in that place, Insadong was waking up and the streets were already way more lively. Henry wanted to go to the tourist information booth because he was obsessed with getting a map of each area we visited (little good that did us), and while he was doing that, Chooch and I slipped into an alley to take some pictures. I thought Henry knew our whereabouts, but apparently not because he walked the opposite direction, stopped, looked all around with his arms out and palms up to the sky, and we of course started our giddy bray which led him right back to us.

This was the first time we’d lose Henry, but not the first time for the “lost” theme in general. Did I tell you guys about how we lost Chooch in Chicago on the day we left for Korea? Oh yeah, it was awesome! We had just landed in Chicago and needed to take a shuttle to the international terminal. Chooch was all, “Hurry guys, it’s leaving!” and swan-dove onto it just as the doors were closing and we were like, “NOOOOOOOoooooooo—–!”

I was panicked but Henry was all calm and collected, and actually even LAUGHED ABOUT IT?!

“I’d be worried if we had a stupid kid, but he’s not stupid, so…” Henry shrugged. But in my eyes, Chooch is still a LITTLE BABY WHO NEEDS HIS MOMMY.

And of course, he was fine. Henry and I got on the next shuttle and Chooch was waiting for us on the exact correct platform because he pays attention and follows direction, unlike me. He wasn’t even crying! When I was 11, if that had happened to me, I’d probably have died of fright right there on that shuttle.

Fuck, even now I’d probably poop my pants if I got lost in some other city, OMG someone help me grow up.

Anyway, our first order of business after the Alive Museum and losing Henry was to find food. We hadn’t eaten at a legit restaurant yet since arriving Friday night because the temptation of street food was just too strong, but now our bodies were craving a balanced meal. Chooch found this great little place in an alley and we had our first round of authentic, actual Korean bibimbap.

I was in heaven! Bibimbap has been one of my favorite foods for years and years, and to be eating it in a small, traditional restaurant in a back street of Seoul was just blowing my mind. We were shocked that Chooch ordered bibimbap as well without any whining and actually ate a good portion of it, also without whining. He is so notoriously picky, as kids are wont to be, but he swore that he would try new things when we got to Korea and I have to be honest here, as the title of my blog suggests: he was pretty fucking adventurous.

That banchan though. Good lord, take me back.

Afterward, we got some poop bread! It comes in two flavors – chocolate or pat (sweet red beans). When pat is an option, I will always choose that. It’s such a sweet, earthy flavor! We should use that more in American desserts, guys. Maybe I’ll have pat-filled cake at my imaginary never-wedding.


There is also a poop cafe in Insadong, but we didn’t go. So many novelty cafes, so little time!

I wanted to buy something from every store in this shopping center, but I didn’t because I’m cheap AF.

It was here in this shopping center where Chooch was scanning a display of phone cases for Bambi and I was like, “BOY, NO ONE HAS CARED ABOUT BAMBI SINCE LIKE 1961, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO FIND A BAMBI PHONE CASE” and then guess who was handing over 20,000 won for a Bambi phone case 30 seconds later?

Ugh. Really, Korea?!

Also Insadong is where you can find the famous Dragon Beard candy vendors! The guy we bought from was excited that we were from Pittsburgh because of the Pirates and told Chooch he was a handsome boy and I was like, “WHAT ABOUT ME WHAT AM I!?” Ugh, Chooch got all the attention.

On the way out of Insadong and to the subway station, we bought some chapssal donuts from a vendor wherein I gave a big fat FUCK YOU to any semblance of a diet that I might have been trying to maintain. I mean, it’s not everyday I can eat legit Korean street food, so I was basically on a mission to try one of everything, and then of course on the flight home, I started making a mental list of all the stuff I forgot to try.

OH WELL, I guess I’ll just have to go back!

Next post: Yeouido Hangang Park!

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