Touring Seoul

Seoul Travel Blog

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Rainy market...

Coincidentally, my summer finance intern at EA is from Korea (but currently halfway through his MBA at the Tuck School of Business).  Before I left on my trip, he was very helpful in giving me some tips on where to go in Seoul
With his list and maps in hand, I set out in a taxi to the first location - Garak Market.  This was a very "local" place.  In my 2 hours there, I probably saw only one other person who was clearly a tourist.  The rest? VERY local.

The produce section was outdoor - and it was raining - so that part of my stroll didn't last very long.  Instead, I went into a warehouse type location packed with hundreds of stalls where vendors were selling all kinds of seafood - a variety of fish, crab, lobster, squid, eels, etc.

...and I got there late
  I took a video of a woman gutting an eel, in case anyone wants to learn.

I then went to the "restaurant" section of the market, where you can sit down and enjoy fresh fish soup and other goodies.  I was a bit intimidated because the woman running the place didn't speak a lick of english.  She motioned for me to sit down at the low table, which me to sit cross-legged (and take off my shoes!), and she started bringing me food.  I had no idea what i was going to get, but among the items - kimchi, cabbage salad, some kind of small crab (basically whole), little eggs, and fish soup (which had all sorts of things in it as well).  I ordered some So-ju to wash it all down.  The women sitting next to me offered me a tentacle of their squid - before i could gesture non-verbally some kind of "no thank you", they cut off the tentacle with a pair of scissors, cut it up, and put the pieces on my plate.

Pretty deserted...
  Ugh.  It was SO chewy, I had to spit it out (and managed to do so without them noticing).

The next stop was a Palace at the other side of town.  Seoul, by the way, is huge - but they have a good subway system which I managed to figure out after my first trip.  That first trip was from Garak Market to the Palace.  Using the ticket machine, I loaded my ticket with appropriate fare, but then the turnstile still wouldn't open.  I returned to the ticket machine and bought another ticket, to ensure i had the right amount.  The turnstile still wouldn't let me through.  So, in a risky move, I jumped the turnstile and walked briskly to the platform, hoping my train would arrive before the authorities. It did.

The Palace area was nice - a large compound built in the architectural style a simpleton like me would expect in Korea.

What exactly was in this "energy drink"?
  There were many buildings, as well as large grassy areas and ponds.  All tucked away behind tall walls to keep it secluded from the hustle and bustle of Seoul.

After and hour or so walking around, I left and tried to find the third stop - the Hidden (or Secret) Gardens.  Even with my map, I couldn't seem to find the place.  But I did happen onto a nice neighborhood area made up of about 2 streets and 10 blocks of art galleries and coffee shops.  A lot of coffee shops.  Heavy foottraffic of trendy well-dressed Koreans.  More often than not, the pedestrians were a boy/girl couple, well-dressed (her = short shorts or skirt and high heels; him = fancy jeans, shirt, and white shoes), and at least one (if not both) of them holding a huge camera.

I found the fish market.
  Seems like it's a status symbol or something.  The bigger the camera, the cooler you are.  I sipped a coffee here and people watched for a bit. 

As I headed back to the subway station, I noticed that just "south" (?) of the artsy area was a pedestrian-only shopping area.  Street vendors, street performers, shops, and a lot of people.  So again, I did an "up-and-back" stroll before hitting the subway back home to the hotel.  As I sat on the subway, I noticed a few things:  the subway car was really clean, i was the only tourist, i still smelled like fish and kimchi from lunch!

Another thing I noticed throughout the day - there are no fat people.  Or at least very few.  Definitely reminds me of the over-indulgence and/or inactivity and/or poor diet of the U.

And boy was there a lot of fish...
S. population.  Probably all of the above.

There was one place on the intern's list - Nae Moon Dong Market - but I'd heard from the hotel concierge earlier that morning that this market was closed on Sundays. Bummer.

Back at the hotel room, I took my shoes off and, ouch, a big blister had formed on my heel.  I cleaned up and then for the evening headed out to the Itaewon neighborhood, which was known for its international flavor - both in terms of residents as well as restuarants and pubs.  I thought this would be a good place to watch the England versus Germany soccer match. And it was.  I found a good pub where I nestled in between Germans on my right and English on my left. 

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Rainy market...
Rainy market...
...and I got there late
...and I got there late
Pretty deserted...
Pretty deserted...
What exactly was in this energy d…
What exactly was in this "energy …
I found the fish market.
I found the fish market.
And boy was there a lot of fish...
And boy was there a lot of fish...
...and other things
...and other things
You can buy it live.
You can buy it live.
And watch your dinner killed in fr…
And watch your dinner killed in f…
So I sat down for lunch.
So I sat down for lunch.
Mmmmm...
Mmmmm...
Until I saw where they washed dish…
Until I saw where they washed dis…
What a feast!
What a feast!
The women next to me were kind eno…
The women next to me were kind en…
Smallest shrimp in world, next to …
Smallest shrimp in world, next to…
A nice walk along the boulevard.
A nice walk along the boulevard.
What a clean, efficient subway acr…
What a clean, efficient subway ac…
Tough guy.
Tough guy.
On the palace grounds.
On the palace grounds.
Old and new
Old and new
Me.
Me.
Relaxing spot, except for all the …
Relaxing spot, except for all the…
On guard!
On guard!
Pagoda?
Pagoda?
Id like to hang out here for a wh…
I'd like to hang out here for a w…
Kind of barren and cold, no?
Kind of barren and cold, no?
Nice parking.
Nice parking.
Coffee shops abound!
Coffee shops abound!
Seoul
photo by: chiyeh