On Thursday, February 27th after my second day of orientation Steve and I took the bus up to Seoul and stayed in Gangnam (yes, like Psy’s song “Gangnam Style”, this is what the song is based on). We started out getting dinner at a cheap ($5 for 2 people) Korean BBQ place. The food was good and the price was the best. Then we went to a “Ho Bar”, which are all over Korea and are just cheap, loud, smoky, bars where you drink before going to an actual club. There we met a Belgium guy, who was a “model” for Samsung (I’m sure) and his Slovenian friend who fed us free drinks (he started looking more like a model after a few). Then after the Ho Bar, we headed to a club that the Belgium model got us into for free…and we were VIP, so maybe he is a model…or else he just frequents that bar. Either way, I got in for free! The place was your typical Korean club with techno/electronic music and tons of people, but not so many you couldn’t move. We also had the luxury of being able to find a place to sit for a second in the VIP room. The drinks, however, were not cheap. So we ended up getting one drink there, dancing like the American fools we are, and heading back to the hostel we were staying in, the “Kimchi Guesthouse”.
The next day we walked around Gangnam and visited Bongeunsa Temple. Bongeunsa Temple was built in 794 C.E., making it a thousand years old (I’m not sure if I buy that, but it’s a cool thought!). After the temple Steve and I chose a more modern activity and walked to COEX, a giant mall. We didn’t do much shopping since we were tired from the night before and eventually decided a buffet was more our style…the “Viking Buffet”. What could have been more fitting for two northerners?
After walking 10 miles around the Gangnam area we headed to Namdaemun (Nam-Day-Moon) where we stayed at “Seoul Backpackers” hostel on Friday, the 28th and Saturday, March 1st. After dropping off our backpacks, we walked across the street to Namdaemun Market where there are hundreds of stands and thousands of people. There are stands selling watches, backpacks, food (overpriced, we later found out at 12:30am when we had eaten), clothes, bras, shoes, hats, dog clothes, scarves, socks, and K-pop posters (also overpriced).
Once we had made our way down one stretch of Namdaemun market we found ourselves in Myeongdong. This is a higher end shopping area that still had street vendors, but also stores like H & M, Forever 21, UNIQLO (Korean clothing store chain), Lotte Outlet, and Olive Young (Korean makeup chain). It was in Myeongdong we found a restaurant that served beer other than the Korean ones (Cass, Max, Hite, OB). It was on our walk back from Myeongdong that we got ripped off at a food stand in Namdaemun before we finally went to sleep.
On Saturday we met up with Steve’s friend Lisa at The National Museum of Korea. The Museum was huge, free, and overwhelming. I was not in the right state of mind to appreciate the artwork and history of the museum, but I did see almost the entire thing because Steve made me (basically) run through it to see everything in an hour and a half. After the museum we went back to Namdaemun Market for a while before finding a cheap restaurant and drinking soju and beer. That night we went out in the Itaewon area that’s near Yongsam Army Base. Another fun night where we found a beer bar run by a Canadian.
On Sunday we took it easy and walked around the Myeongdong area again. We ate at a restaurant called “Red Sun” and had more Korean BBQ for fairly cheap. Overall, a fantastically fun last weekend before I started work!
<–No idea what the name of this was, but pretty typical Korean dish.