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Thursday, June 22, 2017

An Underrated Area in Seoul: Buam-dong

Buam-dong, Seoul, South Korea

One area of Seoul that many non-Koreans don't know about is Buam-dong. To Koreans it's fairly popular but since it's not the easiest to get to, Koreans settle for Samcheong-dong, which is nice but very crowded on weekends.

How do you get here? I made the mistake of thinking that it was close to Hongje Station after looking on Naver maps. I knew it was a bit of a distance but I thought I could walk there. After about 20 minutes of walking, I finally took a 7-minute taxi ride. Oops! Therefore, I wanted to find a way to make it easier for you. I was able to get assistance from the website, which provided me with the directions:

"Take the subway to Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3) and come out of Exit 3. Walk straight for about 100 meters and look for the second bus stop (not the shuttle bus stop). Take either the #1020 (green bus) or #7022 (green bus). Take one of those buses for 6 stops until you reach the Buam-dong Community Service Center. You'll be able to hear it in English, so make sure that you're listening carefully. The bus journey will take no longer than 10 minutes."

Once the taxi driver dropped me off at the top, I really had no idea where to look. I saw an area that was right dab in between Inwangsan to the south (close by on foot) and Bukhansan to the north. Quaint little restaurants, shops, and cafes were nearby, so I started doing my own exploring.

I was a bit hungry, so I wanted to find a place to eat at first. I followed the main road that leads to Gyeongbok Palace and saw a cute Italian restaurant called Da Pasta (a name that made me smile) on the east side of the street.

Da Pasta Italian Restaurant
There were a total of four tables with nice elegant European style decor in the restaurant and two very nice ladies working there. When I walked inside, there were two customers at another table eating. As soon as they left, I was alone for about 30 minutes talking to one of the owners and told her what I was doing in Korea.

The interior of Da Pasta
They were very surprised to see a non-Korean alone and asked me where I was from and they hoped I would enjoy their pasta dish. I chose a pasta dish that doesn't usually disappoint: Carbonara. Overall the flavor was there, however it was a bit dry. But there was a reason for that. The owner told me in Korean that Koreans preferred it that way but admitted that non-Koreans usually complained that the pasta was indeed too dry. I didn't tell her that but I definitely agreed that more sauce was needed. Nonetheless, the pasta was of high quality and there was a decent amount of bacon in it. It was W14,000.

My carbonara dish
I wasn't sure what my next stop would be but I decided to look for a cafe and do some reading. I walked for about 5 minutes south and saw a two-story cafe on the corner called Club Espresso. I saved a seat upstairs and then went downstairs to check the menu. This cafe is famous for its croissants.

Club Espresso 

First Floor of Club Espresso
Here's a shot of the cafe upstairs. The place gets packed on weekends as you can see...

Second floor of Club Espresso
I ordered an iced cafe latte and a chocolate croissant. How did the croissant rate? The taste was excellent and it was very buttery. Just thinking about it right now makes me want to go back there for another one. The coffee was great as well...

A chocolate croissant with my iced cafe latte
But the best part of my exploration of Buam-dong was yet to come. After I did some reading and enjoyed my dessert, I wanted to get outside and experience the sunshine. I started my walk toward Inwangsan. I was pretty surprised how the street just passed right through the mountain.

Inwangsan in front of me
After about a 5-7 minute walk, I found a trail that led me up to the Seoul City Wall that surrounds Inwangsan, which I wasn't even looking for. I decided to walk up the stairs and follow a trail that led me to the wall...

On the way to the Seoul city wall on Inwangsan

I wasn't sure what kind of view I would get from the top but lo and behold I got some great shots of Seoul from here. As I looked over the wall, this is what I got to see...

A view of Bukhansan from the Seoul City Wall on Inwangsan
I kept walking up the stairs and came across two Korean soldiers that wouldn't allow me to take pictures from one particular point. Then I realized that that point was directly above the Blue House (Cheongwadae). Once I couldn't go up any further, I came down the mountain and got a great view of N Seoul Tower on the south side of Inwangsan. I got two wonderful views of Seoul from two different vantage points. Here's what I was able to see....

A view of N Seoul Tower from Inwangsan
Another shot of N Seoul Tower as I was coming down the mountain
How amazing was that! Not only were the views great but it wasn't that crowded and it was very quiet. I totally recommend coming here when you have a free weekend. Make sure you make a trip here before it becomes a hot place on TV and everybody and their cousins come here for a visit. It's well worth it just for the nature.

Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)
Instagram: laseoulguy
Twitter: laseoulguy

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