Day 06

I’m finally feeling like myself again! Yay!! So as soon as I was able I headed out to explore downtown Seoul.

View of mountain from one of Seoul’s main streets.

The first place I visited was called Itaewon. This area is famous for internationl shops and restaurants since a large numer of expats live in the area. There I saw a lot of antique shops, hip coffee houses, and really beautiful houses with elaborate gardens. This neighborhood was perched on a steep hill so it reminded me of San Francisco quite a bit.
Lots of antique shops!

My next stop was the Namsangol Village Houses, which is a series of traditional Korean houses located right in the middle of the city. It was a big but fairly simple coompound. Once you walk through the huge gates, you’ll see a huge courtyard with two guys weaving traditional straw goods, and you just wander around different houses peeking into the ones that interest you. There were SO many students here though on their field trip, I felt like I was at a huge playground. 

Next I visited the famous Namsan Seoul Tower! It’s interesting to me that every country or city has its own treasured tower or building of some sort. I did do something stupid though while I was here. After the tour bus dropped me off at the furthest point cars were allowed, I climbed up the steep hill to get to the tower. But when I got there I took the wrong cable car and went back down to where I came from, canceling all my hard work. -.- Ater what felt like eternity I was finally able to go up the tower, and the view was amazing. You could see just how big Seoul was and it’s big! I only wish it was a clearer day but I managed to get some nice photos.

My last stop on the tour bus was Insadong, and I love this place! Imagine one big street with many art galleries and shops, WITH secret passageways stemming off of both sides filled with many interesting-looking restaurants and guest houses. I literally felt like I was walking around in a maze, but one that I really enjoyed getting lost in. The shops here featured a lot of handmade goods.
One of the many passageways in Insadong
One of the shopping centers at Insadong

After that it was off to dinner with my friend at Samcheongdong. Samcheongdong reminded me of a more upscale version of Itaewon (the place with many expats). Everything from the sidewalks (yes, actual sidewalks!) to the lampposts to the facade of the shops looked nicer. For dinner my friend brought me to a restaurant called House, which is literally what it is, you go into a house and they serve you Korean home cooking, which I thought was really cool and delicious. 

House

Between us we shared a leek and cuttlefish pancake, a Pollack (some type of fish apparently) and kimchi mandoo (Korean style dumplings), and a cold, spring type of noodle in a creamy bean soup, and of course lots of yummy banchans (side dishes!) After that we went to a cafe nearby and I got myself a Purple Sweet Potato latte! And that was especially interesting to me because I’ve had taro flavored drinks before, but never sweet potato and it tasted just like it! Definitely one of my highlights.
Our meal at House.
By now it was almost 10:30pm, and I was pretty darn tired from all the walking plus I was having major food coma, but I had told my friend I wanted to experience a jjimjilbang (or gingerbank as I call it), which is a type of Korean spa/sauna type of place that people can go to for relaxation and sleep overnight. By the time we both got there though, we were both so tired we only wanted to shower and sleep. We sat in one of the hot water pools for less than 5 minutes and went to sleep. The sleep however was terrible, because they didn’t give us anything except a thin straw mat on the floor and a tiny pillow. So for 5 hours my friend and I just tossed and turned, trying to find a comfortable sleeping position. I was SO tired though I actually managed to sleep 5 hours, but my poor friend on the other hand said she felt like she was being tortured the whole time. So at 5 am when I woke up from tossing and turning some more, my friend grabbed me and we fled the scene. We caught a cab and laughed all the way home at the misery we just put ourselves through. Maybe next time if we go on a less tired note, we would’ve had a better time. 
So that concludes day 5. Day 6 I toured the city some more with both friends. We went back to Insadong for lunch and went to visit one of the palaces nearby called Gyeongbokgung Palace. These palaces were HUGE, we weren’t even able to get to all the buildings.

Image courtesy of hellotravel.com

After that we went and got some patbingso (Korean shaved-ice) to cool us down and omg this stuff is amaaaaaaazing. The ice was sooo fine and powdery, it tasted like fairy dust and made me feel 5. And I was told there are some even better ones out there. :O

And thats how we ended our sightseeing day. Afterwards we just went and did some cosmetic product shopping at Myeongdong, which this place was filled with. But man those sales people were pushy! One of them literally pushed us into the store. Interesting thing I noticed too, a lot of the sales people were able to speak Chinese, I guess that tells you how many Chinese tourists like to come to South Korea to shop!

Okay, that was a long post. Hope you guys enjoyed!
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