Monday, December 24, 2012

Seoul Day 1 – Myeongdong Dinner and Shopping

After our lunch session, my friends and I split up. They were to meet another person in Seoul at the place they were staying at. I then went off to explore more of what the city has to offer.

As I don’t have a clear cut agenda for this day, I just went on to the nearest place from Shinsegae Department Store – the Myeongdong Shopping District. Apparently, this is one of the most famous places for tourists to shop. There were lots of underground markets, malls, and street vendors all over. No wonder this place feels so vibrant and full of life!

I explored the nearby underground markets first. As these seem to be just simple underpasses, I expected to see only a few stores. However, when I actually went into one, the place is huge! So many little shops were spread out on the many alleyways that comprise the underground market. There were shops for clothes, shoes, bags, small trinkets, vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, food, and so many more! It took me quite a while to visit all these underground markets located in the area. I got to go around 3 of them – MyeongdongHoehyeon, and Sogong. All were pretty much the same in layout except that each store specializes in something different.

courtesy of (Peter Mok)

Wandering through, I actually reached the new Seoul City Hall. The design of this building is truly modern. It clearly juxtaposes the Deoksugung Palace right across it. Truly, this is a vision of tradition and modernity coexisting together in one space. As it was raining during this afternoon and I had no umbrella, I was not able to capture the moment with my camera lest it get drenched.

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Afterwards, I checked out some of the malls around the area to do some window shopping.

I stopped by Lotte Department Store first to check out what they have. The floors were organized by category so it’s easy to spot where you want to go – one floor per category. There were branded items on the lower floors while the Duty Free Shops were located on the upper floors. The store had a lot of selections to choose from – a good thing for shoppers who want to browse through a variety of things. When I got to the Duty Free Shops, it was packed with tourists. Nevertheless, I decided to stick around as there were really good bargains to be found here – and I tell you really great bargains (plus tax refund) for designer items! Doesn’t get any better than that!

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Next stop was Avenuel. It is adjacent to Lotte Department Store and filled with designer labels for some high-end shopping. So if you got the budget to spare for a few expensive items and souvenirs, this is the place for you. However, since I got no budget for these kinds of things, I opted to window shop instead just to know what’s in here. The best part of this mall has got to be the washroom with hotel like facilities – complete with a couch and a water drinking station.  Talk about first class customer service!

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Last stop for the day was Lotte Young Plaza. This mall is designed for young and hip Koreans and tourists alike – you can immediately feel the youthfulness of the place upon entering.  True to its name, all of the merchandise being sold here is targeted towards the younger crowd. This is definitely my kind of place. I like most of the stuff being sold here as well as the energetic environment. So, what do you do when you need to take a break from all the hustle and bustle? Easy. Simply head on to the rooftop garden terrace for some peace and quiet.  I enjoyed passing some time here – until the rain decided to pour again from the skies and left me hurrying towards the inside of the mall.

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For dinner, I found this Vietnamese Noodle House called Pho Bay in one of Myeongdong’s alleys. Since I wanted something warm, I decided to give this one a try. I got the Seafood Pho without thinking twice.


The clear broth was clean tasting with just a tinge of saltiness from the assorted seafood. One thing I noticed though is that there were too many noodles as opposed to the toppings. It got to a point that there were only noodles left on my bowl. In any case, I appreciated this simple dinner.

Is shopping an essential part of your itinerary as well? Perhaps you've been here to Myeongdong too? Tell me about it by commenting below or by using the Contact button on the right.

Up next, exploring Namsangol Hanok Village.

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