Friday, June 11, 2010
Given the long first day, we didn't quite get up as early as we'd hoped, but since it was still morning it was time for coffee. Not being in the adventurous mood, we just opted for good ol' hometown favorite, Starbucks. It was easy enough to order, but we ended up with just one grande cup of coffee instead of the two we needed. The grande was large enough for us to share, so we just left it at that. (Note to self: memorize numbers in Korean)
After getting our caffeine boost, we headed off to Myeongdong to do some sight-seeing. If you're interested in fashion or shopping, it's the place to be. We weren't in the shopping mood, so it wasn't as interesting for us. There are lots of street vendors in the area, that sell clothes on the cheap... just gotta watch out for the fakes. Lots of interesting items to buy ;-)
Soon it was lunch time, and since we were by ourselves... menus with pictures, English, or Japanese. Well, Myeongdong practically caters to the Japanese, it's like being in Hawaii, so we were not short on options. Especially, when people were following us down the street telling us to come to their stores. We were on a mission to find one particular restaurant called Jijimi. Once inside yes, there was a foreign menu with pictures, unfortunately all the pictures and translated items were the expensive ones :~( We ended up ordering a few dishes: chijimi, kimchi fried rice (above), and a skewered meat selection (below). Everything was quite tasty, although I found the sauce for the skewers a bit too sweet for my liking.
After lunch, it was time to meet up with some old buddies, but first we had to get back to the hotel. What should have been a no-brainer, took us about an hour on foot in the general direction of the hotel, but nowhere near it. Lesson of the day? If in doubt, take a taxi, they're super cheap. Also, remember to grab a hotel business card (in Hangul), so the driver can find it. We ended up paying about $3 to get back to the hotel, worth every won!
After getting back to the hotel and relaxing for a few minutes, we met up with our friends for a little sightseeing. First stop was the statues of King Sejong (above) and Admiral Yi Sunshin (on my first post). Then it was off to a place we probably would have never gone, because it wasn't on our map.
If you like art, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. you must visit Samcheongdong. It's a cool neighborhood area behind the Gyeongbokgung palace. After walking around for a bit, we stopped in at a quaint little coffee shop called Cafe Yeon. The cafe is a traditional old style Korean house. You sit on the floor with cushions, the tables are low, and food and drinks are delicious.
Here's the entrance:
One of the upstairs rooms:
After our little tea time, it was off to dinner. We went to a restaurant called Bongchu located in Insadong. They only serve one thing on the menu, and it's a vegetable, rice noodle, chicken dish called jjimdak. The place was just packed, and when you eat their jjimdak you'll know why. Just watch out because it is quite spicy and the serving size is huge, we ordered for 3 people (with 4 in our party).
After a full meal, we really needed to walk off the food. So we headed out onto the streets of Insadong, to check out the street vendors. We found this cool stall that makes cellphone lanyards by photoshoping your face onto a figurine. I had to have one!
After making a few funny faces and waiting while he worked his magic, I had my very own one-of-a-kind souvenir from Seoul. The cost was 7000 won each, which is probably about $6. If you're in Insadong, look this guy up!
Day two in Seoul had it all. We were all dead tired and stuffed to the gills. It was a good day!