I spent 12 hours touring, shopping, riding and eating through Seoul yesterday. It was absolutely exhausting but really fun. I woke up early and found my way to Gwanghwamun Station, exit 6, just passed rushed hour so I scored a seat on the hour or so subway journey there, from Osan. After a short little wander through the streets, I found the right ticket booth and for 10,000 won I bought a day pass to the Seoul City Tour Bus.
The bus is hop on, hop off style and it was so cold they even threw in a free blanket with my ticket. There are 27 different stops on the tour and many of them were insignificant (like certain hotels stops, the USO, the American Army Base) But others were really impressive. It was a whirlwind tour and I actually only got off in one spot (that was my goal for the day), but I was mostly after just driving around, observing and getting a feel for the lay of the land in Seoul. My mission was successful.
Seoul is like Paris in that it has a river dissecting it, running east to west, it is called the Han River (okay so maybe that is where the similarity ends, but its something). It also reminded me of Montreal because it has a small mountain in the middle of the city offering amazing views. Namsan, the name of the mountain is a little higher than Mount Royal, and um, maybe Seoul is a little bigger than Montreal (over 10x's bigger!). I made it to the top of the mountain, but didn't have time to stop and enjoy the views, the tour bus ran a tight ship. That is now on my list of things to do when I am back next. There is a cable car to take you up and and on the tip of the mountain is N'Seoul Tower, a mini Korean CN Tower, with restaurants and view points in the bulb. Next trip, for sure.
There are some areas in Seoul that are crushed with people climbing over top of each other, but there are other areas covered in green with huge sprawling avenues. We passed palaces and gardens that were really spacious and lush. So even with a population of over 10 million people in Seoul, there were areas that seemed roomy. The prime minister of South Korea Kim Hwang-sik lives right in Seoul, at the base of one of the smaller mountains, and the residence is on expansive grounds sprawled out in every direction.
My main destination for the day was Myongdong. It is pretty much the shopping capital of Seoul and I am ashamed to say I have been in Korea for over 2 months and still hadn't been there. I made up for it. I had to include a photo of all my goods. NOT because they are so uniquely Korean, but because of the amount I paid for them. I'm sure it was a combo of after Christmas sales, my keen eye for a bargain and the fact that Korea is dirt cheap but....I paid 80,000 won for EVERYTHING you see laid out in the photo. And just in case the picture isn't detailed enough I have to spell it all out:
1. Black skinny pants
2. Cream colored pants
3. Grey leggings
4 Long and beautiful teal beaded necklace
5. Big chunky red ring
6. Beige knit sweater
7. Long sleeve white shirt
8. Hot pink bra
9. Grey bra
10. Black & White striped scarf
11. Knit touque with pretty flower on the side :)
12. Blanket (ok I didn't buy the blanket but it was part of my ticket price for the bus tour and I felt compelled to include it with all my other wares)
So exactly how much is 80,000 won in CDN $'s you ask? Wait for it........ seventy bucks!!!! Not bad, eh? The black pants alone were less than $3.oo... RIDICULOUS!!! I am in a shoppers heaven!
I stopped in a random spot to grab some food for lunch and it turned out I was in a Post-It paradise...honestly, only in Asia. It was a little lunch place plastered with Post-Its from wall to wall. Another of the soooooo so so so many reasons why I love Asia. For lunch I had a kimchi udon soup. Koreans know their soups. I eat soup everyday at school for lunch and even at home soups are a go-to for me. I have yet to try a soup here I haven't liked. The one at the Post-It resto was great. Spicy, filled with both recognizable and unrecognizable things and hearty (cabbage, noodles, shrimp, clams, tofu, onions...). Yum yum pop.
After a few hours in Myongdong I hopped back on my tour bus and whizzed through the rest of Seoul. By the time I got back home, it had been an 11 hour excursion. With the exception of Odya (the kitten I'm sitting this week) going a little mental from loneliness and toilet papering my kitchen, it was a great day!!! Can't wait for my next return to Seoul. Maybe an art gallery on Saturday or back up to Namsan Mountain.