Yeah, the adrenaline rush sort of dissipated by the time we boarded the subway back into the city. Hence the shortened B-S-L from Boom Shaka Laka. We decided to drop by one of Seoul’s biggest bookstore chains: Kyobo @ Gwanghwamun.
Actually, I had a feeling that the bookstore was rather close to us when we walked along Cheonggyecheon stream. Somehow the beautiful vista and the refreshing scent of the gushing water pushed all thoughts of hunting for the bookstore. So, back in the hotel room, we decided to check on its locations around Seoul:
Putting our adventurous hat on, we thought it would be easy enough to find it since this particular outlet was within the subway station area.
Chugging from Sinsa station (man, was this train crowded!) we rode till Jongno 3(sam)-ga. Confidently thinking I would find the relevant exit, I led my girl out into this VAST station following the hurrying crowd.
Can you see the forehead smack headed my way?
Of course I couldn’t find an exit that had “Kyobo Bookstore” on it because the store was in Gwanghwamun station (Purple Line). Jongno was the transit station for Purple and Orange Lines, Sinsa station is on the latter.
No worries. Since it’s only the next stop, we should be able to walk to it. But the issue now is: WHICH EXIT TO TAKE?
A-ha! Found and Information Counter! The Ahjussi manning the booth was busy organizing his work area. With a smile, I opened with “Anyeong haseyo!”
He looked up with a smile, ready to be of help.
Then, the dreaded sentence came out “Yongo haljool aseyo?” <Do you speak English?>
Two palms came up immediately and waved the universal language of “No. I don’t know. Can’t help you”
I persisted with a desperate word “Kyobo?”
He stopped short and repeated my request. Brain synapses kicked in and he intuitively understood I was looking for a way to get to Kyobo Book Store. Hands searched for something on the desk and he gave me Seoul Metro Map in English, “Go down. Purple line. Next station”
Ok. He so trolled me! He could speak English! Yeah, they were key words, but he got his point across 🙂
Quick bows with thanks, we walked ALL THE WAY down the stairs, across the station on travellators, and hopped into the correct connecting train. With all these action packed scenes, I could feel sweat trickling down my back. Ugh.
Gwanghwamun Station: YAY! We’re here! And LOOK! Kyobo Book Store is written on that Exit signage!
Today was especially taxing for the both of us due to the non-stop stair-master sessions. Our thighs were screaming in agony by the time we reached the entrance to Kyobo. But, since the sun was still out, we wanted to take a look around just so we could get our bearings. Up the last flight of stairs, look to the right, and SHAZAM!
What a pleasant surprise! First thought that entered my mind: Iris, City Hunter, Tree with Deep Roots. If they had Pop Quizzes at well-known landmarks in the city, I’d do rather well. Thank you K-Dramas! LOL!
Being out with the cool winds blowing, it was a great chance to cool myself down after the day’s episode of “The Amazing Race from Olympic Park”.
See the booth on the left? Upon closer inspection, there was a cute note left for the public:
How cute is That?!
Hangul: Widely regarded as one of the greatest legacies of King Sejong the Great.
The sun was setting and we headed back towards Kyobo Book Store.
Immediate response: Oh No. The heaters are switched On! Just when I had cooled down minutes before.
Second response: Oh my goodness! Look at the crowd!
Third response: OMO! Look at HOW BIG this place is!
Since I did not have the opportunity to visit other Kyobo stores, I can’t vouch for sure that this was the biggest branch. However, it was a sea of books everywhere (except for the obvious colourful breaks that housed stationery supplies – I shall come see you soon). There was even a “food court” zone tucked in one corner of the store.
Before reaching the stalls, a decent-sized music outlet showed off an impressive range of local and imported CDs. As we circled the entire floor, and scanned various book categories, my eyes glazed when it was stationery city to the left of the walkway.
Since we couldn’t be part of the awesome 2012 Big Show, we mended our dented hearts with these babies!
It was close to 7pm by the time we walked up the stairs (again!) and realized how close we were to Cheonggyecheon Square. I looked at my girl and sent a telepathic request “shall we walk back? And look for some grub for dinner?”
Slowly blinking, and furiously thinking that walking back meant No More Stairs (as opposed to taking the subway and torture yourself with the stairs again), a short affirmation of “Uh-hum” sealed our journey back to our recharging dock at Ibis.
Anyonghee-gaseyo yarobun 🙂