Tuesday, December 10, 2013

10 Dec 2013 -4C Dongdaemun / Namsan

Gwangjang market

Gwangjang famous for its hanbok market

Eye catching and lots of color to choose from

The day started cold but clear. Our main playground was the Dongdaemun area, where we plan to experience the local retail scene.

We arrived at Gwangjang market, a stone’s throw away from Euljiro 4 Station. Starting from the west end of the market, we explored the silk market section, where beautiful Hanbok were sold. I was so besotted by the high quality finishing and beautiful colors that I had the urge to buy one. Luckily sanity prevailed.

Preserved fish in GWangjang's food section

Ready for steamboat stall


Real food from scratch. It would be great without all the grease

Our first snack station was the bindaetteok , mung bean pancake ( 5000 won ). Ajumma fed  mung beans into an automated stone grinder to make bean paste which was then fried into thick, crispy pancakes. In the extremely cold weather, it was the best street food that I have eaten for a long time.  The pancake was a mixture of textures, with stringy leeks and onions – a interesting sensation on the palate.

The most amazing open air winter market with heated seats

Pork thights and bimbap as sides

Sundae blood sausage. I will pass.

Mung bean grinder

Hot sweet soup which we were too full to try

Gwangjang has lots to eat but not all are cheap and value for money

Our mandu place. Could have been better.

Expensive bean stick

No sated yet, I re-enacted Kdrama scenes in which boy and girl eat sticks of fish cake right out of steaming broth ( 4000 won ).  Verdict ? Bleh.

Our last snack at Gwangjang was sundae and a bowl of kimchi dumpling and kalguksu soup. It was the bad choice – the sundae smelt gamey because of the blood, the dumpling was plain ( stuffed with tofu and kimchi ) and the kalguksu a repeat of Namdaemun’s. It  cost us 10 000 won. Street food it may be, but our lunch cost us a whopping 30 000 won !

Cheongnyecheon, in the heart of Seoul

To cross or not to cross, that is the question

After lunch, we walked along Cheongnyecheon towards Dongdaemun. The stream was a sort of park connector, linking the west of Seoul to the east. It was a good way to bypass the city traffic, since it was below road level. We followed a family of ducks down stream. At the section where the stream was punctuated with stepping stones , the ducks hopped onto the stones and flew off from the stepping stones to continue the next section of the stream.


Dongdaemun ,  as seen from the toilet on the top floor of Doota

Dongdaemun culture park - work in progress

Because we took the Cheongnyecheon route, we reached Dongdaemun in no time. The front of the Dongdaemun gate was cordoned off for repair works, a let down because that meant we could only take pictures of its ‘ back side’. At Doota, we had a vantage view of the gate from the roof garden level, though the view beside the 8th floor lift was the best, not counting that from the ladies toilet.

A holiday is not complete without ice cream and that was what we did. The food court at Doota serves a mean waffle ice cream ( 5000 won ) with cheese cake. The coffee was decent too ( 3000 won ).

We did some ‘window shopping’ in Doota and ended with a pencil case and an Artbox music book ( 5600 won ). One floor down, I bought my first skin care product in Seoul, Laneige water gel bank ( 28 000 won ), a discount because I did the transaction in cash, without demanding for a receipt.

Next door at Migliore, we got 2 sets of babies clothes at the basement for Scott and Jing’s twins ( 3500 won ). We would love to get them prettier stuff but winter clothing hardly looks like the sane thing to buy for babies in Singapore.

Seoul from Namsan

Lover's lock at Namsan

Look out for my cheapo luggage lock which says 'World Peace'

Some folks just can't obey instructions.

At Chungmuro station exit 2, we hopped up the shuttle bus bound for Namsan ( 750 won ). The bus deposited us at the base of the N Seoul Tower where we had to walk the steep 100 m path to the base of the tower.

At the base of the tower, scores of love struck couples placed locks to declare their love for each other. Even though we are approaching our fifties, we did as the young kids did. After all, we do have 2 decades of marriage as credentials! Our combination lock ( a spare from our luggage ) looked weird but weirder still was the phrase “ Word Peace” inscribed by me on the lock. We have exhausted all the mushy stuff in our early days!


Seoul at dusk

Sunset soon

Mascot, Mr G, eagerly awaits sunset

Good evening , Seoul

Seoul lives on after dusk

Cars on both sides of the Han river

N Seoul Tower lit up

Lovely lit up pavilion at Namsan

We went up Namsan tower ( 9000 won ) and spent 4.30pm – 6 pm capturing the sunset over Seoul. It was awesome and my pictures posted on FB even garnered a couple of Likes!

Myeongdong - where is the restaurant, may I ask?

Hubs' favorite rice

Crispy prawn pancake is hubs' newest craze

Stone bimbap - yum!

At 6pm , we hopped up bus 5 from Namsan where we alighted at Myeongdong. With hub’s navigational skills and help from the local folks , we finally found Myeongdong’s Gogung after a 15 minutes walk.

Gogung had one of the most memorable Bibimbap ever! We ate the Dolsot and regular bibimbap set – it was so good! There was so much bachan it was a meal by itself! The bibimbap was an explosion of flavors and textures with each bite, it sent us to food heaven! Not forgetting, there was live traditional music. The cost was just 30 000 won, so much better than our seafood meal the night before!

We summarized the day with H through Skype and learnt that she, on the other hand, had canned curry and naan – the poor dear! Hopefully she will be able to feed herself better as our holiday goes into our 4th day.

Next up, Seoul palace district and a classical concert at Seoul Arts Center.

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