Well, I’ve been in Korea almost 24 hours! Between Thursday and right now (Sunday afternoon in Korea), I think I’ve slept about 10 hours, and most of those were last night after I arrived. I was just too excited 🙂
After a little trouble getting from the airport to the hotel (I tried too hard to follow instructions and didn’t use my common sense), I got in at 11ish local time last night and almost immediately crashed. Unfortunately I was up at 6:30 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. It was fine, but I’m exhausted now. I just got back from a nice walk around town and I need to try and stay awake…we’ll see how that goes.
Today I ate some breakfast and then went out for a few hours. I walked around the Gangnam neighborhood a little (where I’m staying) and then braved the Seoul metro to get over to Meyong-Dong. My original intention was to walk straight to the Namdaemun Market, but I got side tracked by Namsan park and even stumbled into Shinsegae.
Gangnam is a nice neighborhood, but it seemed a little quiet when I left this morning. Maybe because it was Sunday? I’m not sure. On my way back it was hoppin’, but it was nice and empty this morning.
After Gangnam, I got on the subway and headed towards the downtown area of Meyong-Dong. I was headed towards the market when I saw this amazing view of the mountains from the subway exit. One of the reasons I love “unscripted” travel days is that I get to do things like go wherever I want! I headed over to what ended up being Namsan Park. It was a little crowded with tour groups, but the snow made everything incredibly beautiful. Also, MOUNTAINS! Being from the midwest, those are something totally different for me…
I then wandered towards the market (FINALLY!) and was a little excited. There were stalls upon stalls of food, clothes, homegoods, etc. I really think they had everything a person could ever want. Of COURSE I was interested in the food. I saw a ton of people eating fried fishcakes on sticks, hotteok, filled pastries of all sorts…everything! There were even snails 🙂 It was almost overwhelming with the mixture of all the different smells, sounds, and things to see. Markets are probably my favorite places to visit in foreign countries and Namdaemun did not disappoint. I would definitely love to go back on a weekday, just to see it when it’s REALLY open.
I ended up exiting (completely unintentionally) right in front of a large Korean department store, Shinsegae. The part I really enjoyed was the bottom floor with the food! There were little areas of the store, almost like different vendors, specializing in various things. There was a fish area, a meat area, a kimchi area, a pastry area, etc. It was great to look around, but unfortunately the prices were a bit high for my tastes (or maybe my tastes are too high for my prices?). If I were super rich and lived in Seoul, this is totally where I would shop.
Also, since I didn’t snap a ton of pics there, I did make this short Shinsegae video to show you a little of what it looks like. Yes, I’m in the pastry section 🙂
Alright, I’m going to try not to fall asleep and then head out to dinner with some of the other people who are here for training. This week will probably be quite busy, so I don’t expect to blog much more. I hope this is enough to hold over until I get to Daegu!