Saturday, August 8, 2009

Hongik University and Dongdaemun

Dolsot Bibimbap in Stone Bowl


9:00pm and just finally sitting down for supper

One of Dongdaemun's Malls

Snack at the underground "indian" restaurant

Wow, the amount of walking here is amazing. You walk everywhere. It's starting to take it's toll as Jason and I were pretty slow moving this morning. It felt great to be a bit lazy and just lay around the room. It sure is different without someone calling "mommy, mommy...where are you? What are you doing? I want you to play with me" every two seconds. Although I miss it, I'm grateful for the time I get to rest and recup. We spent most of the morning relaxing as we have been on excusions and adventures for around 12 hours each day. As soon as the hunger pangs started, we knew it was indeed time to get up and go out.

We had a quick bite to eat and then hopped on the subway for Hongik University. This area of Seoul is on the north side of the river and is very close to where we stayed when we were here 3 years ago. I was so excited to get there and take a look around. Once we got off the train, things started becoming familiar once again. It was such a wonderful feeling looking around. I suddenly felt a little more at home here.

We met a couple from Germany on the subway and got to talking with them. They are actually living here in Seoul for a year so they knew the lay of the land a little. We went to the Free Market. Hongik Univ. is a large art college and every Saturday a bunch of the students sell their wares. There was a little bit of everything. Jewelry, shirts, hats, paintings, etc. It was so fun to wander around and look at all of the talent there. It rained early this morning so once the sun came out, the humidity was just on the verge of unbearable to me. You didnt' even have to move a muscle in order to start sweating. The couple we met invited us to a cellar restaurant for something cool to drink. We walked down a flight of stairs to a little Indian restaurant hidden underground. It was such a crazy feeling, it was like we had been in Seoul one minute and India the next. We ordered some strawberry lassis (a yogurt drink) and a chai tea (don't know why Jason wanted hot tea...a mystery to me) as well as some lentel crackers and samosas. It was even complete with a Bollywood movie playing. Once we were done, we walked upstairs and once again we were back in Seoul. Jason and I both agree that is was such an experience. Apparently there are all sorts of hidden, underground restaurants that transport you to all sorts of places in the world. Who knew...hidden gems right there under our noses and we didn't have a clue.

We took a walk to the Richmont Bakery, stopped in for a birthday treat, and decided to trek on down to more of our old stomping grounds...time to visit Eastern. It was so wonderful seeing that building again.

After absorbing as much college culture as we could, we headed to Dongdaemun. Once we came out of the subway station, we realized that we were on the wrong side of the street. Some of the streets in Seoul are so wide across and impossible to walk across. Literally. You have to go back down the subway entrance and come up the other side. (Not a big deal until you see how many stairs you have to climb back hot, humid weather, with thousands of other people crowded within inches of you.) Ugh...back down this side and back up the other. I was getting pretty slow by the time we reached the top...and then we noticed that we had come up the wrong side again! We were so deliriously hot and tired that we just started laughing our heads off. I could hardly catch my breath it struck me so funny. I'm sure to the average korean person, we looked like we should be in a mental hospital. Oh nuts! Back down luck would have it, third time is a charm and we were finally where we needed to be...all be it hot and exhausted.
Dongdaemun is a huge market complete with giant malls. It amazes me how there is never a shortage of things to buy in this city. Malls with multiple floors all around. Each had their own outdoor stage and as night started to come, people started to perform. We guessed it must have been an open stage and that anyone could go up if they wanted. There were guys doing breakdancing, some popping and locking, some just singing. There were girl groups who had 3 or 4 songs in a row all cheoregraphed to a "t". There was even a group who did the whole music video to Beyonce's "Put a Ring on It". It was a lot of fun to watch. While we were there I saw a stand that had some deep fried onion petals. Um..I love those things so I decided we should grab some before we left. Much to my dismay, upon closer investigation, we realized that it was peanut butter fried squid. Somehow...that just wasn't the same. I just can't get over those suction cups.

As the night brought cooler weather, Jason and I decided to head back to one of our favorite spots...Insa-dong. We ate there as well as meandered through more shops. It is a more relaxed atmophere here and it was a wonderful way to spend the evening.

We finally arrived home to our room at 11:00pm. Full day as usual.

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