The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Seoul Day 2, Part II: Modern and Traditional Downtown Seoul

While hubby was enjoying his DMZ tour, the 18-month-old and I explored downtown Seoul on foot - or more correctly, the boy sat (and napped) in his stroller while I pushed it around.


As I'd mentioned previously, we stayed in a hotel in Myeongdong, which is one of Seoul's upscale shopping districts. We were told by a taxi driver that most of the Japanese tourists base themselves in Myeongdong for the shopping. The Japanese love shopping, so it's no surprise that most of the Asian tourists on the downtown streets were Japanese. I recall one of my Japanese adult students mentioning to me that she went to Seoul for a 3 day trip with her mum, and all she did was shopped. I am not much of a shopper myself, but I did step into the Lotte Department Store located opposite our hotel, although I only explored the food basement section. In the morning, I wandered around the area nearby to our hotel, with no map in hand but somehow found myself in the market area of Namdaemun, a historical gate which had been the oldest wooden structure in Seoul before the 2008 arson.

Colourful lit and dancing fountain near our hotel; and a small part of the Lotte Department Store's food basement, this sub-shop sold various Korean cakes:

The big fountain in front of the Bank of Korea Museum in Myeongdong, near our hotel; and one of the many market stall-lined streets of Namdaemun market near the fountain:


In the afternoon, I was fortunate enough to have the company of fellow foodie blogger, A of funkynomadeats. She's a Malaysian currently residing in Seoul, and this was our first time meeting in person. She brought us to Insadong, where there are many traditional teahouses, restaurants, and shops selling traditional Korean goods. It was interesting to see the similarities between the Korean culture with both the Japanese and Chinese cultures.

The Friday afternoon crowd on the streets in Insadong, a very popular tourist spot in Seoul - it was not fun at all moving through this crowd with a stroller; and a stall selling a type of taffy, which, according to A, is a super-hard candy made from nothing much other than sugar, with a nut-coated variety also available:

More Korean snacks - puffed rice, thin savoury biscuits and sweet nut clusters; and a Korean performance on the street - the group was simultaneously singing, drumming and twirling those long ribbons attached to their headgears (they must have some strong neck muscles!)

The Japanese-style mochitsuki, on the streets of Seoul, although not done as quickly and efficiently (but lessens the danger of injury); and the Cheonggyecheon Stream that separates the traditional and modern parts of Seoul:

At some strange artistic display inside one of the spaces between buildings off the main street in Insadong:

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