Jongno Tower, Bosingak Bell, Myeongdong, Mr Pizza
9th June 2013. Continued.
After a visit to Seoul’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Changdeokgung Palace, we wandered off to get a view of Seoul from above at the Jongno Tower, to explore Seoul’s other shopping mecca in Myeongdong and to get a bite to eat at a Korean Pizza chain.
However, our first stop was going to be SPACE. (Only you know, we didn’t go to space for real.)
No, we were wandering along the streets, looking out for a Korean restaurant with an English menu and no meat. We found rickshaws first – just so you know how difficult the veggie task was.
We even found the Japanese Embassy. Surprisingly, they were not serving bentos nor miso soup in vending machines.
It was past lunch time and the weekend, too. Bummer.
No one eating at the street vendors yet.
Didn’t feel like fried take-away, either.
Juice! Those Korean juice bars are genius and frequent! They simply blend the fresh fruit of choice for you.
Tada! Kiwi juice smoothie.
I really felt like those orange tents were serving delish food but streets are predominately huge and uncrossable, so that you have to walk a block or two until you reach a big crossing or an underground bypass. Probably delish vegetarian food. It must have been.
Traffic is tragic. South Korean drivers commonly believe that their advanced cars fold up after they have parked it right on the sidewalk.
Delivery bikes, in turn, believe to be pedestrians on wheels.
You can only see this sign when you are driving on the sidewalk. But then you are already on the sidewalk.
‘Schau’! Ein Fachwerkhaus, ein Fachwerkhaus!’, I said. But it wasn’t a German timber-house. Hunger was clouding my senses.
I saw more fascinating architecture. The Jongno Tower.
The Jongno Tower is recommended for superb city views from floor 33. Floor 23 to 30 are hollow constructions. Location: near Jonggak Station, Subway Line 1
The elevator display was not only indicating floor levels but read…
Turn off electric heaters!
A restaurant on the top. At last. With veggie options! A grand piano and a singer, too. But meals were very pricey. Around 100,000 won for a dinner course per person.
I retreated to the bathroom. For a bath.
Nah. For the view of Jongno and mo’!
We weren’t gonna spend a fortune on food. How cool, I was wearing my flying super-skirt.
So I grabbed Tomek and we landed back down!
We landed right next to the exciting site of Bosingak Belfry Bell – a big traditional Korean house with a bell. Build during the Joseon Dynasty in 1396, the bell indicated the time to Seoul’s former residents. Four gates allowed people in and out.
The gates closed at ten o’clock in the evening, ringing 28 times. At four o’clock in the morning the bell rang 33 times to declare the gates’ opening. The bell also functioned as a fire alarm. It is now on display at the National Museum of Korea.
The bell that is currently standing here, is a new cast, financed through contributions from the public. After it was hung in the belfry in 1985, it rang in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the 1945 liberation from Japanese occupation.
Located in Jongno (meaning bell street) at the exit of Jongkak Subway Station.
Today, we also enjoyed the pearl of retreat in the very centre (again): Cheonggyecheon – the 5.8 km stream flowing west to east through downtown Seoul. A magnificent urban project to re-introduce nature to the city of eco-friendly design. It cools the city area and looks absolutely awesome!
A way to introduce nature back into a mega-city.
The other pearl we passed was Gwangtonggwan, the oldest bank building in Seoul dating back to 1909. Location: 19 Namdaemunno 1-ga, Jung-gu
Finally! Shopping at Myengdong (명동 영플라자) in Jung-gu !
All the mainstream super stores with international brands (Adidas, Nike, Ralph Lauren Polo, Uniqlo, Zara, H&M) and local brands (Bean Pole, Esquire Shoes, The Face Shop, Etude House, Skin Food, Nature Republic) are provided for here. Two bigger shopping centres are Migliore and Hi Harriet with typical Asian style shopping stalls, sorta like at Dongdaemun (shop this fashion area, too!).
Two huge Korean department stores are not to miss: Shinsegae and Lotte. Shinsegae is more upscale oriented whereas Lotte Shopping is a group of branches targeting all ages. You will see the Main Lotte Department Store, Luxurious Avenue, Young Plaza and the cool Lotte Cinema.
Fashionate youngsters! Celebrating themselves in front of Young Plaza.
Those kids play with accordingly trendy dolls. Barbie was yesterday. Psy is today.
Music and cosmetics are closely linked businesses. Psy has his own cosmetics line on offer in Seoul.
It is totally acceptable to stand in a tree of South Korean flags at the department store for a while.
In Myeongdong, fishies can fly. There are SIX floating in the sky – spot them!
I just have to say, the intersections in Seoul are massive. To get to the left sidewalk, where we spotted the Korean Mr. Pizza chain, we had to cross to the right…
…pass a beautiful roundabout…
…enjoy sculptures and a view onto Seoul’s landmark, the Tower…
…and cross the street to the right side. Where we took a glimpse at Shinsegae department store.
The main branch of Shinsegae is the oldest department store in Korea. The building of the store (below picture) was opened in 1930 (formerly as the Japanese Misukoshi department store – the one at Tokyo’s Nihon Bashi bridge).
There are basically those three major retail groups (Lotte, Shinsegae, Hyundai) competing in Seoul. Hyundai Department Store, next to Coex Mall is worth a visit, too!
Korea does not disappoint fashionistas and shopaholics!
Location: Myeongdong, Hoehyeon Station, Subway Line 4, Exit 7
And off the topic. There are not many occasions that I am taller than Tomek. Standing on a pole while waiting for the green light was one. It’s not easy for small people to look down on someone.
But it looks easy to make small eyes look big! As popular in Seoul as in Tokyo. Lenses in all colours and sizes. More on Korean beauty and surgery coming up soon!
Public self cleaning station for glasses.
Before dinner, let me tell you about a Korean of historic importance.
Young-sik Hong. The father of Korea’s postal system. I am sure, at least one of my readers is collecting stamps.
Because truth be told, I am, too! Well, actually I inherited the brilliant collection of my grandfather, a philatelist of Polish stamps. It is Tomek’s father now who is visiting post offices in Szczecin to keep up grandpa’s passion and expand the collection.
Young-sik Hong traveled all the way to the Americas, gathered all the infos he needed, and convinced Korean King Gojong to modernise the postal system in 1884. He laid the foundations of todays Korea Post (tall twin building behind the statue).
Location: Seorin-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Food! If we can’t find a meatless restaurant option, the convenience store is usually of great assistance to keep us alive. Having said that… the ‘tuna salad gimbap’ did have meat in it. Gimbap are rice rolls in seaweed sheets, sort of the Korean version of Japanese maki sushi.
Final food destination: Mr. Pizza with they catchy logo ‘Love for women’. Location: Namdaemun-ro, Jung-gu but it is a chain and you will find many branches whilst walking around in Seoul. I didn’t include their webpage because I read that it is infected with malware.
The menu looked promising but only in Japan do picture menus not lie.
There was no fruit at the salad bar, which had a very different variety than advertised by the gorgeous pizza lady.
Plenty a pizza variety. So we picked the most exotic. Lobster pizza.
It’s called lobster pizza but what we got was shrimp and squid. We paid for lobster, there was no mistake on the bill. Nor in the process of ordering. It’s just what you get. Hungry don’t complain. It wasn’t bad either! The lobster pizza was 29,900 won plus 6,000 won for two beers.
The love for women… who will eat anything served.
Movie time! At Lotte Cinema. We saw The Great Gatsby in comfy seats, a great screen (I rarely comment on cinema screens), perfect sound system (not bursting ear drums) and climate control (no freezing air-con!). The visuals were absolute fun, hovering above the imaginary city of West Egg in the 20s. I enjoyed the Art Deco ambiance and decadent parties of Mr Gatsby. I am sure the 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald follows more convincing characters.
And the loos, ladies and gentlemen, had little screens for longer sit-ins.
South Korea is a fast developing country and Seoul a fast changing city. As we were walking out, Young Plaza was being stripped of its commercial shell.
The fascination of trash production.
If you read this, you are fortunate enough to live on the surplus side of the world. Like us.
I am incredibly lucky, at the same time I know that my world consists of a lot of unnecessary luxury that impacts the fragile environment of Earth in a very bad way. Just saying. If you feel bad now, I am sorry. You can do something about it, like moving on to more travel adventures!