305. Seoul: Tea Date at Shin Old Tea House

“If you’re in Insadong, go to this Korean tea house,” said my host before proceeding to give a mimic of a map on a post-it.

“You’d love it. Perfect to relax.”

IMG_0021After exploring the Changdeokgung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village, (written in previous entry), I proceeded to Insadong because I felt like I needed a time-out.

That’s how it is mostly – I walk about and explore, be around people for a bit, then I get tired and seek a nice little corner to hide and recharge. That explains why I love going to cafes around Singapore to recharge, but I’ll keep cafehopping for another time!

IMG_9957I decided to look for the tea house… Which turned out to be at the very end of a random alley right off a busy street.

If you’re taking the train, alight at Anguk Station, Line 3. Exit towards Insadong and turn left onto Insadong street. The cafe is at the end of an alley off to your right after you walk past Ssamzigil. Look up for the sign!

IMG_9959I found out that there are two teahouses along that particular alley, and Shin Old Tea House was the smaller of the two, and definitely the more quaint one.

IMG_9958I walked in and immediately fell in love with it! It’s like I was transported into a whole other time & world. The tea house was housed in an old Korean hanok, has knick-knacks, rustic furniture and many many bright pillows that lends itself a very cosy feel.

IMG_9967I personally have a thing for wood furniture, so this was definitely my cosy corner!

I was the only customer at that time, so I had the entire space to myself. Needless to say, I found a corner to sink in, reflect, and write.

IMG_0017The ahjumma (whom I assume to be the owner of the place) who greeted me was puzzled I was alone, so she proceeded to gesture to me to order anything off the menu & then gave me a couple of other things for free. IMG_0002As she placed the items on the table, she tried to make conversation with me, but neither of us could speak each other’s languages. It naturally proceeded into chicken-duck language territory, and we started talking in monosyllables and sign language. All through this highly entertaining and warm conversation, she had the widest and brightest smile, and I felt like she had been waiting for me to arrive the entire day.

Some people have that ability to make you feel special, y’know?

She then slipped away and allowed me to be with my own thoughts. As I sat quietly in the house that holds much charm and secrets, I began to open the many boxes I’d brought along to process on the journey.

At this point, I was navigating through grief, and I’d learnt that there was no one solution for grief. There’s no one method to be applied to all – we need to find out our own. So we take our time navigating through grief, pain and loss. We owe it to ourselves to grief in the healthiest way possible, one that does no harm to ourselves or others. For grief prepares us for something greater; it is never for naught.

Loss, no matter through what circumstances, either death or (personal) choice, is always hard to comprehend or swallow. The gaping hole it leaves for the left behind is a jarring reminder of borrowed time, of missed chances, of unsaid words.

Perhaps loss isn’t meant to be understood, but to be graciously accepted. To provide the impetus to say what needs to be said, to forgive what needs to pass, and to build what needs to exist between the living.

Loss, after all, is part of the deal we made when we decided to live.

IMG_0016 It was such a beautiful experience. This gem of a place could have easily become my favourite spot in Seoul should I have stayed longer.

I didn’t stay much longer in Insadong after that. I was maxed out and slowly made my way back to my hostel, but I have been told that there are many things to be done in Insadong!

Many of you asked me about this particular experience when I shared it on Instagram (@thetudungtraveller) , so I do hope this has been of benefit!

Warm Hugs,

IMG_0050

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