I had always heard of the place 'Bundang' from Korean friends for years, but I didn't exactly know where it was. All I knew was it's down south of Seoul and was a popular place to live in. My friends Vanji, James, and their respective families used to live there.
I later learned that Bundang is an area in Seongnam City, Gyeonggi Province, and it is where our friend, Kristine, and her family currently live!
So, on a free day, Kristine invited us to her neighborhood in Jeonja-dong, Bundang, which was just right next to Jeonja-dong Café Street, a street full of coffee shops, restaurants, and small boutiques.
(Arriving at Jeonja Station and
crossing to Tancheon, or Tan Stream)
And since none of us has been there, we figured it was the best way to discover Bundang: head down there and be toured by Kristine around her neighborhood!
Jeonja-dong is less than 20 minutes from Gangnam Station via Jeonja Station (Sinbundang Red Line). Kristine met us at Exit 5 of Jeonja Station, where we started our tour.
for International Education)
Just across the subway station is Tancheon, or Tan Stream, a small waterway that, would you believe, flows all the way through Jamsil in Seoul and into the Han River? So, if I walked north from the Tancheon in Bundang, I'd find myself in Daechi-dong in Gangnam-gu in Seoul where I usually play tennis at their sports fields on weekends!
This is what I also love about Korea, the local governments develop the streams and waterways for the locals to use for biking, running, or simply strolling. Even in my neighborhood in Dongdaemun-gu, we have our own Jeongneung Stream with rubberized paths and complete with ducks and fish!
After a quick visit to the Tancheon, we continued our tour around the streets and alleys of Jeongja-dong to look for a place for lunch.
Along the way, we stopped by the National Institute for International Education, whose front yard was full of interesting installations.
We found Granny Saloon, a restaurant at a creative space-slash-alley decorated with giant chess pieces and colorful artworks. Recommended by Kristine, it specializes in dishes with meatballs. And having walked around Jeonja-dong for about an hour, my meatballs dish was perfect for my grumbling tummy.
(A giant chess piece!)
(My meatball lunchee with rice and fried noodles)
But before we headed to coffee and dessert, Kristine brought us to Naver's headquarters. Yes, Naver as in Korea's top search engine company. Although it has a café wing, we visited its library that was 'green', literary and figuratively.
(Can you read my mind?)
It's a huge library with bookshelves topped with plants while its clear walls let natural light in to conserve energy. It has long tables, comfortable armchairs, and sofas for everyone to use. Gosh, it even has tall lamps in case you want to light your own corner! If only this library were next to my apartment, I'd be here almost every day!
(The plants on top of bookshelves probably
aid one's study as they provide more
oxygen to the place.)
After quietly roaming the library (there were a few people reading and studying!), we headed back to the main street in search of coffee and dessert!
The Jeonja-dong neighborhood is a mix of office buildings and apartment complexes. It has a lot of schools, which I think make it attractive for families with grade school and high school kids.
This Bundang visit was long overdue and I was glad I made the trip with friends.
And its café street definitely provides a relaxing corner for the residents (as well as visitors!) to hang out during weekends, while its Tancheon provides another option for those who want to stretch their legs and exercise as well as a space for parents and kids to run around.
(This café in Jeonja-dong was a part of the location shoot for two drama series: 'Descendants of the Sun' and 'The Lonely and Great God - Goblin')
As our final stop, we settled in a small coffee shop (not a franchise) at the café street that also served different yummy cakes!
Here, we finally rested our legs, chatted some more, and ended our fun tour of Kristine's Jeonja-dong neighborhood.
dessert and coffee in Jeonja-dong Café Street)
Thanks to Kristine, I have finally been to Bundang!
And importantly, I now know why it is a popular place to live with an even more popular spot to hang out! :-)