Coffee only please. No Soju. 🙂
What to do when you arrive at your hotel waaaaay ahead of check-in time, and you’re dying to lighten your load and explore? We arrived safely at Ibis Hotel in Myeong dong around 8.40ish in the morning. The staff at the Information Counter were courteous, fluent in English and informed us that our room would be ready by noon. “You may leave your luggage in our storage area. This is your tag. See you later”. So that left us with four solid hours to create a mental map of Myeong dong. According to my research, most stores in this area would open by 9:00am, and more importantly, I had to replenish our drinking water supply since we gulped away the first one on the bus.
As it was very early in the morning, we took our time mentally cataloguing pertinent stores we might re-visit later in the day. It is amazing how similar businesses are set up right next to each other, and they manage to keep afloat after all these years…
Just one of the MANY Nature Republic stores in Myeong dong.
You can see how early in the morning this is!
BSX is one of the hoodie specialty stores. Decent prices too.
Police Station in the shopping district. Patrol cars make their regular rounds at snail’s pace due to massive crowd in Myeong dong.
There were handful of young men handing out brochures promoting cafes & restaurants in the area, and almost always they would greet us in Japanese. Smile, nod and say “thank you”, and their reaction would be “oh? Yongo? You not Japanese?” Since we pretty much walked all over this shopping district, we would bump into these groups again at certain intersections, so learnt fast that if you have those flyers in your hand, they’d very likely leave you alone 🙂 Hmmm, how come our hunger pangs haven’t kicked in? Could it be due to the excitement to find:
For those who do not know this group of five diva-looking guys:
This is BIG BANG – one of the BEST Korean exports to the rest of the world 🙂
We learnt of a few places where CDs were sold at very reasonable prices, and figured out the path to two stores located at the Myeong dong Underground Shopping Centre (stairs are located very near to Migliore Mall). The sun was up, the crowd growing in numbers (mostly Japanese) and I had to sit to cool myself down. It was probably 6c or so by then, and I was SWEATING! How was that possible? A quick time check and realised it was time to make a bee line to the music shop downstairs.
People, CDs are RIDICULOUSLY affordable in Korea! Our jaws literally dropped when we looked at our favorite artists and the price tagged on the covers. No wonder the Japanese Ahjummas were picking up Big Bang CDs as though they were buying accessories from some cart by the roadside! Anyway, this is what we ended up with:
Since we were already near the Myeong dong subway station, we looked around for the T-Money top up machine so that we didn’t have to deal with the crowd later in the day. So, thanks again to http://www.visitkorea.co.kr., we were calm and collected when interacting with the machine. There is an ENGLISH button on the screen anyway!
On our walk back to the hotel, I finally noticed how close we were to one of Seoul’s most famous landmarks: Seoul N Tower (a.k.a Namsan Tower)
Being the girl scout that I was, my brain calibrated our schedule for the day and next. Since our first visit to Seoul was rather short, we had to make the best out of our stay. So for the rest of Day 1, we walked past Euljiro 1(il)-ga towards Cheonggyecheon stream. My goodness, this invigorating site certainly beckons the tired & weary Seoulites and eager tourists like us 🙂
Cheonggyecheon is one of the famous spots captured on god-knows how many Kdramas. This area originally did not look as beautiful as it does today. The stream was hidden underground and the commercial zone around this area was less than bustling. Upon its discovery, the decision was made to restore & refurbish Cheonggyecheon and voila, its existence has injected much-needed magnetism to the surrounding commercial areas and has become one of the Must-Visit spots in Seoul.