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Day Two: Seoul

SOUTH KOREA | Saturday, 22 May 2010 | Views [738]

Woke up Hongjing cooking breakfast, and I mean actual breakfast type food, not Kimbop or something but like eggs, fruit and toast.  His German friend was visiting him from Beijing.  I was so thankful they shared the eggs, toast and good conversation with me.  They were both very interesting, smart guys and I think it is so cool that English is the language we all have in common.  We really have no idea how lucky we are that we are native English speakers. 


About 11am I head out for the day.  I stopped at a little coffee shop on my way to the subway.  Its walls were decked out with Elvis Presley paraphernalia, guitars, cowboy hats and old tin lunch boxes.  It was a pretty cool place and for Seoul, it was cheap.  My iced Americano was 2,500Krw, so roughly 2.50$.  Strolling down, old alley like streets through the big city with my iced coffee felt like heaven.  You all know how I am about my morning coffee!  Plus Seoul was hot and sticky so a nice cold drink made my adventures more bearable. 


I took two subways and 28 stops later I was at Coex.  Coex is a shopping mall, but it is much more than that.  There are 260 shops, 100 restaurants, a casino, a convention center, art galleries, an aquarium and a car dealership.  People watching in Coex is like star gazing in Yellowstone National Park, there is so much to look at you are never quite sure where to start.  There are so many foreigners in Seoul, so that made it doubly a treat.  Just for the record, foreign men are always with Korean women but foreign women are never with Korean men.


Best thing about the Coex mall was the bookstore.  It was HUGE and I mean like Fuccillo Hhhuuuuggggggeeeee!  It had a very large English language section!  I got to do one of my favorite things.  I have been doing this, about once a month, for quite sometime now.  I go to a bookstore, pick out 5 or six books I have heard of or that have been suggested to me and then I sit down and read bits of each of them.  If I read more than ten pages and want to continue reading, I buy the book.  I usually only let myself buy two books at a time.  So this round I picked up The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahari.


When I had my fair share of consumerism I wondered along to Bungeunsa temple which was right across the street from Coex, in the heart of the city.  Just like at Jogyesa all the lanterns were hung for Buddhas birthday and it was beautiful.  It was just slightly raining, not enough to feel uncomfortable but enough to somehow make the earth more silent.  It was serene and I needed that after the mad rush of the mall.  A stranger, in kindness, offered me his umbrella.  There were many people there, paying respects to Buddha and meditating.  I am not sure the real rules of greeting Buddha in a temple before you meditate but I slipped into a hall, not even close to unnoticed, that just isnt a possibility here, and I meditated and felt this peace.


Soon my friends Jeff and Katie were calling to meet up for dinner.  It was 6:30 already? The day flew by!!  I caught the subway to Naemdaemun Market.  Many of the stands were taken down already but the ones that were still up were very cool.  There was so much stuff there to buy and I had already spent enough money!  But I did buy a face mask or two.  Korean people are obsessed about their skin so there are many face shop stores full of treatments and make up and face masks.  Sometime they will give you face masks for free just for coming into their store, they call it service.  I like service.  Me+free stuff=Happy! 


Hunger got the best of us very quickly and we found ourselves down eatery alley which was a little walk way, closely lined with Korean restaurants.  We settled into one and ordered up dinner, complete with soju!  It was delicious.  Kimchi soup, dol sot bibimbop, some pig intestine you know the norm, lol!    


Then we walked to Meyong dong which is like shopping central!  When I had been there the day before, it was wall to wall people, but at night it had a much different atmosphere.  There were still some people around but not too many that you felt uncomfortable.  All the store fronts were lit up and people were just there for the sight of it, or to grab dinner and a drink.  It was nice and much more fun than the chaos it was the first time I went there.  We decided to Mart it which means go to a Mart (you know like a little 711 type dealio) and buy liquor or beer and sit outside and drink.  People do this, literally, everywhere, all the time here.  It doesnt even matter what day of the week or time of the day.  So we sat on the out skirts of the hustle and bustle and watched it parade on by.  


I took the Subway back to Hongik University area where loads of partiers piled out with me, dressed to the 9 for a Saturday night on the town.  It started raining pretty hard.  So I walked a few blocks to my Guesthouse and grab my rain jacket and walked my way around Hondae.  It was freaking cool and I cannot wait to go back and party my ass off there!  There where soooo many bars!  But I called it a night since I was broke, tired and alone.  Still I was a very happy girl! 


Overall, I loved Seoul!!!  I cannot wait to go back and get another glimpse of this huge and diverse city!  

Tags: bungeunsa, coex, namdaemun market, seoul, south korea

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