Temple of Lanterns, Dongdaemun shopping, Cheonggyecheon Oasis
8th June 2013. Continued.
After two prime examples of Korean palace architecture, we were going to take in more delightful sights.
A serene, yet most colourful temple, called Jogyesa and a whole district in Seoul dedicated to fashion.
First we had to get our energy levels back up. Passing this inter-skyscraper garden was a first step.
Very popular in Seoul are juice bars and cafés, also serving freshest juices. You pick your plastic cup of fresh fruits, they add sugar and ice, et voilà…the orange juice smoothie.
Convenience stores are a great place for drinks but I was amazed how filthy most of them look. Trash lying around (inside and outside the store), cartons, boxes with new stock blocking the way, floors chronically dirty. There is no difference between Japanese convenience stores in Seoul (such as 7Eleven, Family Mart) or Korean chains (GS25, Buy the Way) as far as tidiness goes.
We want nice and pleasant! Now! Okay…
The beauty of Joyesa Temple. Location: 45 Gyeonji-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul – a hop from Insadong Street
The temple is hand-painted with Siddharta’s way to enlightenment.
Listening, mesmerized by the meditative chants of Buddhist prayers.
The three big golden Buddhas in the building are the largest shrines to Buddhism in Seoul.
The holy tree is decorated with so many lanterns, it makes your head spin.
Dividing the sky.
The sky of lanterns.
Outside was the cutest Buddha statue I have seen.
On site, the Memorial Hall of Buddhist Culture outlines the history of Korean Buddhism, visitors can also see the Central Buddhist Museum. We went for their refreshing drinks.
The main entrance gates of Jogyesa Temple are also adorned with gorgeous paper lanterns.
Look up to see dragons and kois!
The thrill of perpetual travel.
You guys, I think we have just come across another of the eight gates of Seoul, once part of a huge fortress wall. Heunginjimun, commonly known as Dongdaemun means Great East Gate.
The area around Dongdaemun is one large shopping world!
Korea’s largest wholesale and retail shopping district. A mixture of high end shopping malls, high street shopping centres, cheap clothing markets and fake brand stalls, lit up brightly.
Most places stay open from 10.30 am to 5 am, so shop till you drop but check out closing times of the big malls (they finish business earlier than the markets, sorta before midnight).
Before entering the shiny monstrosity of pure shopping frenzy, enjoy the best example of city planning ever. Adjacent to Pyounghwa Clothing Market on the above picture, is Cheonggyecheon. What a name. If something has such a long name it must be grand. It is!
This stream has once been a stinky flow of polluted water which was later killed by a concrete layer and overshadowed by a huge motorway, running right above it. The city has cleaned the mess in 2005, demolished the motorway, totally reanimated the 6km stream, providing relaxing modern walk ways with a lot of greenery on the sides. An enormous investment. The effects are amazing.
Many people and couples strolling around. It gets more beautiful at night with the addition of light and laser displays in some places. A walk along Cheonggyecheon is the perfect spa complement after and before shopping in Dongdaemun.
You can cross the river using rock steps. Fun!
We first went to Doota, one of the large fashion malls in Dongdaemun. The complex was entertaining the crowds with a free jazz concert.
As a tourist you can claim a tax refund on purchased goods over 30,000 won. VAT is 10% but your refund will be less due to somekinda fee.
The young of South Korea are fashion-conscious individuals, dressed very presentable. That includes dogs. Not only rouge on the cheeks but also manicured paw nails in striking pink and palm-tree fur style on head.
Modern mall with more expensive local designers. Most is made in Korea.
Grand opening of a men’s designer zone. We had a look.
While Tomek is getting some new shirts.
There is a food court on top floor. I missed those Asian food courts, usually serving cheap but good food.
Firing up our shrimp fried rice dish.
Truth be told, it did look very different from the picture menu and food model. Nothing fancy but okay.
Next mall, please!
Raining stars was the building of Maxtyle Mall.
Hello apm right beside Milgliore are two very similar malls with very cramped young trendy fashion stalls and cheap prices.
No matter where you are, Seoul is a city of contrasts – big clean malls framed by street-fashion stalls and trash. A lot of trash in the city, no matter the area. Some is cute, most is smelly.
We decided to visit unique looking Lotte Fitin Mall. It had just opened this week! The district is changing every year, new malls emerge, old get torn down – it might be that you will see a totally different district when reading this.
Elegance at the entrance!
Walking brand new carpets.
Invited to a stand promoting Korean artists, we received promo presents. Seoul Monz are cute and tiny wooden monsters. They are artistically decorated to represent sights and quirks of Seoul. The figures have magnetic parts to adjust ears and hands to the figures, according to mood. Very neat!
At last, we went for a meal at the top floor of Lotte Fitin, featuring various restaurants. We were positively surprised to see CocoIchibaya, a tasty Japanese curry chain. The menu promised mango lassi but reality had lassi lacking. Everything was sparkling new, though.
Squid, asparagus, tomato curry with rice. Delish!
The toilets were new and the big sign for the flush button pointed to… eh, which button???
Fascinating outside, the cramped shopping stands. Just like at Bangkok’s parallel world of street fashion – you can sometimes get the same clothes a lot cheaper at these vendors.
The open market is a row of yellow tents which are incredibly well lit. Get your fake brand fix here.
Snacks for late shoppers. It is so cool to be able to shop whenever your mood strikes in Seoul.
The area provides food streets with (almost solely) meat dishes.
I have even found some South Korean food models toady! No plastic but real food foiled in. Looks real, too!
Time to go home, dear readers! It was ghostly empty when we were getting the last train home.
Alternatively, travel some more with me, if you like!