Insadong shopping, Korean pancakes, Seoul’s metro and plastic surgery
2nd June 2013. Diary format.
We have arrived in Seoul and although it was hard to get out of bed (admittedly more so for me), we were very excited to go out and embrace a new city.
Seoul, the bustling megalopolis.
Noo, I am not going anywhere! The bed is far too comfy.
I just want to look out our window front and take in the view on Seoul. Rocky mountains loom up above the city. Sadly, the sky so far has been always grey.
Okay, I am going if we don’t have to take the trash out.
Damn. Here we are at the official trash dump on B2 (two floors beneath ground floor) of our residential block. Koreans do recylce. Yellow bags for wet waste and white bags for the rest. Glass, paper and plastic bottles are separate. There is a simple cart with trash bags which I assume is actually pulled by some person. The smell is indescribable and makes its way through all floors which welcomes residents when they open their apartment door. We are on floor 14 abut the dump has penetrated the building all the way up.
A ‘Goodbye’ (smell!) sign was fittingly marking the way. Streets in Seoul are massive with many lanes going right through the city which generates a lot of noise. I have read and heard a lot about legendary Korean traffic and ‘get there first’ driving. But I was going to see for myself. Well, what can I say. So far I have seen drivers not bothering to stop at pedestrian crossings and a women got hunked at at a crosswalk. Motorbikes driving on the sidewalk doesn’t make anyone wonder.
People are commonly eating and sitting out on the streets. Looking at dishes and restaurant pictures, examples of traditional foods includes kimchi, rice, bulgogi (marinated beef) and pork dishes.
How to recognize you have found a hairdresser in Seoul? The salon’s towels are a give-away.
View on the Seoul Tower, the landmark, visible from almost anywhere in Seoul when pollution levels cooperate. Located on Namsan mountain, the tower reaches 480 meters above sea level.
Passing a nice square as we were entering Insadong street – one of the main shopping attractions in Seoul.
Can’t get around these ‘Ice cream in Side cookie’.
Everyone was having it!
Spiral cone makes spiral spins!
Street artists on Insadong street.
Hand crafted fans.
The ‘mother-of-pearl’ exhibition with ‘light unchanging even after a thousand years’ turned out to be…
…a showroom with kitschy furniture for Korean’s new upper class. I loved the bright red dresser with shiny inlaid butterflies making my head spin the way that ice cream did.
Insandong street offers an endless variety of souvenirs but it takes a good look around to find stores with beautiful Korean crafts. This one was selling traditional paint brushes and more toned down memorabilia.
Folk fashion at a small boutique.
Very popular are poster prints. Our apartment is tastefully decorated with many Korean cutsey art prints.
This drawing by Korean artist Park Suran caught my eye for magnificent girlieness.
Enakei is Suran’s brandname selling various fashion accessories, jewellery, hair pins, mirrors, wallets and the like. Thumbs up for her brand uses fake leather to manufacture their bag line. No need to kill animals for fashion. Her wonderfully cute site is www.enakei.com
There is one place you should not miss when strolling along Isandong Street: Ssamziegil Mall with individual artists selling their goods.
You will see many people taking pictures at the entrance of the mall to mark a memorable arts and crafts spot.
A classic souvenir all around the world. Have your portrait taken at the courtyard of Ssamziegil.
There aren’t many vending machines but the best way to get refreshments on the way is at convenience stores which pop up at every corner.
We stayed a while to listen to this musician and his fabulous interpretations of The Beatles. His voice was as fresh and clear as John Lennon’s.
Wow. After our three months stay in sterile Tokyo, I was delightfully surprised to see some street art!
A random walk through the hilly area close to Bukchon Hanok Village (a beautiful traditional Korean place), gave us a very romantic ‘View Point for Couples’.
It was getting late and we had trouble finding a restaurant that was still operating at 10 pm. But there is no way to miss the brightest of all eateries. I am still not too good at deciphering Korean names, sorry if I can’t give you the exact name and location but it is in the Bukchon Hanok Village area.
I was going for a typical Korean pancake with seafood and green onion. Korean Pajeon (pronounced ‘pahjuhn’) is considered more a snack food or starter, so I was expecting a small (suiting me just fine) portion.
What I got looked just a tiny bit different, had less shrimp but compensated with omelette. The portion was over-huge and I ate the seafood and some of the chewy onions but my stomach couldn’t make any more room to finish it all.
The complimentary starters were already filling me just fine. It is a very neat thing to always get those when ordering a meal. At the same time I feel overwhelmed by the amount of served food.
Tomek finished all of his kimchi pancake! After all these dishes, (sadly) there was no way to try anything else.
Korean metal chopsticks. Very thin and flat. It is more difficult to hold than wooden chopsticks but surely environmentally friendlier.
The beer was okay. It did not have a fresh and foamy head I had very much gotten used to in Tokyo’s bars.
On our way ‘home’ we saw this street side food stand. Next time I would like to be more adventurous and inspect further. I suspect beef and pork but we shall see.
I found these hot buns at the convenience store. There isn’t much which resembles bread, so we went for some soft white pastry for breakfast.
Toilets are hit’n miss in Seoul. Some are very nice, some are as bad as the public toilets in my home country. Even at modern toilets you will often come across hygiene fails such as the bar soap.
A Korean public toilet at the impressive Cheonggyecheon metro station. The area is part of an extensive urban renewal project. That obviously means soap dispensers and nice toilet interior.
Very neat. Tiny toilets for children!
The metro in Seoul is contrastingly clean to Seoul’s streets.
Modern, safe and spacious.
These orange cards are one way tickets. You pay for the fare and a 500 won deposit which you can claim back at another ticket refund machine at your destination.
Happy to see English translations at the metro. We know were we are going!
People line up nicely and then it gets a bit pushy when going in and out of trains.
The trains don’t always meet their designated stop. The sliding door you see here is not the trains but the station’s barrier door.
The wonders of Seoul’s plastic surgery can be marvelled at on many commercial boards.
Similar looks of Korean women (and men) are not solely the cause of seemingly habitual face lifts but a desired look achieved through intense photoshop and grand make-up skills.
Facing similar competition – Miss Korea 2013.
It shouldn’t be such a shocking issue. South Korea is the world’s leader in surgical beauty procedures as I have learned in The Economist.
Would it be more fair to run a parallel beauty competition called Best Plastic Surgery 2013? I think we should just come to terms with beauty ideals available for everyone. Proportionate, perfectly symmetrical faces appeal to all of us. Let’s face it and move on… to the next post, dear readers!