Judging by what we lugged back, our trip to Seoul was a great success. We came home with a kilo of oatmeal and four of chickpeas, along with enough tahini to make hummus of all of it. We got lentils and spices galore and coconut milk and baking soda. We got guitars, each; paper lamps, each; and some nice artwork for our apartment's barren walls. Pictures of the booty later, for now here are a few from the trip, which was great fun in itself. Six of us went together, and we quickly found over a dozen others that had come from Gangwon-do, land of nature and quiet, to Seoul, the promised land of foreign food and nightlife, for the three-day weekend.
Our home for the weekend - the Golden Pond Hostel in Haehwa, Seoul - a nice clean place with internet and English-speaking staff. Not far from the action (Itaewon, Dongdaemun, Insadong) but on a subway line that made for a lot of transferring between trains.
Just down the street from our hostel, David poses in front of what must be a big draw for this movie theater. As an aside, Korea is so short on land that everything tends to be built vertically. Next to Gandolff is a box office, above that concession stands and six theaters stacked on top of themselves. After you buy your tickets in a Korean theater, you get on a (usually very crowded) elevator to get to your show.
Melanie lost in a sea of guitars at the Nagwon Arcade. There must have been over a thousand guitars in this shopping center, along with hundreds of pianos, woodwinds, and strings. How do you choose a guitar when there are a thousand at two dozen shops to choose from?
Many of the venders were just reselling goods made in China or Indonesia (I picked up a Korean-made acoustic electric, a "Mass," that I'm very happy with), but some, like this guy working on a flute, made studios of their little shops.
Breakfast! Itaewon - the foreigner district - was like heaven for all of us. We started off with an Indian buffet that had me moaning through the meal. This is Saturday's breakfast at the "Flying Pan" (pretty clever - Asians can't differentially pronounce R & L, so frying sounds like flying), which was soon followed with some Middle Eastern fare. After six weeks of kimchi, it's hard to explain how good this all tasted, though I suppose the smiles on our faces are something of a give-away.
This is in the subway. The superiority of Korean technology, and the integration and availability of it, never fails to amaze me. This woman is watching TV on a portable television, and she's doing it in the subway! What's most amazing about this to me though, is that the TV uses an old-school antenna, like the ones we had on our black and white TVs before cable was ubiquitous. Who would've guessed that that would be whats needed to watch TV on a moving train 80 feet under the earth?
My favorite shop in all of Korea.
When the others decided to go to the fashion district for some shopping Saturday night, Melanie and I broke off and headed for Seoul Forest and the 2008 Seoul Drum Festival. We got there a little late, but were impressed both by the festival, and by Seoul Forest - a nice, big park in a city that doesn't have a lot of them. Videos to come later.
I don't think this means what he thinks it means! I know articles are tough when your first language doesn't use them, but if you're printing thousands of copies of something to sell, don't you think you'd find someone to proof read it? Then again, for Koreans, all that seems to matter is that it has what appears to be English on it.
Finally, here's a 20-second video taken just off the main street in Insadong, the traditional-arts district in Seoul.