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Sport Shopping in Seoul

Ever Evolving Primate: Travel, photography, food, cooking, and just about anything else.: Sport Shopping in Seoul

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sport Shopping in Seoul

I can't believe how far behind I've gotten on my blogging. Oh well. Babehoney and I took a weekend trip up to Seoul a couple of weeks ago for Buddha's Birthday, and it was a great time. After arriving and checking in to the guesthouse we were staying at, we headed over to Gwanghwamun square because there were several festivals going on in the city that we wanted to check out and that was a central point to all of them. We walked through the Hi Seoul festival, and then did some sport shopping at the H&M and a few other stores where we actually found some clothes big enough to fit us!

After an afternoon of shopping we headed over to the Buddha's Birthday Lantern Parade, a heck of an event that featured huge lanterns and thousands of smaller ones marching down the streets to the sounds of Buddhist chants, samulnori groups, and other traditional musical groups.

We were pretty wiped after the parade so we headed back to our guesthouse and crashed a bit early. The next morning we woke up and had to change rooms in the guesthouse, so we needed to stay in the area until our new room was ready. We found a cafe that served gourmet burgers and hot dogs and had a great lunch. I ordered 2 hot dogs, not realizing that the dogs would be foot long ones and that the toppings were taken to an extreme level. We ate everything, re-checked into the hotel, and then went about our adventures for the day.

On the way back we stopped for a spot of tea at the Hello Kitty Cafe. It was amazingly...cute. And the green tea latte and brownies we ordered were very good. I had read many bad reviews of the Hello Kitty Cafe, but I have to say that in my experience I'd recommend it. 

We tried to hop a bus to Insa-dong, but somehow missed the stop and ended up on the northwestern outskirts of the city. After spending a bit of time finding our way back to Insa-dong, we shopped around for local wares and looking at the dudes playing flutes and stuff. We enjoyed an ice cream waffle (wow, waffle with ice cream, bananas, strawberries, caramel, chocolate, etc...huge) and a lemonade, and then moved along to the Buddha's birthday lantern festival, where we made lanterns for ourselves.

After the festival we decided to try and find some ethnic cuisine that wasn't, well, we looked through a city guide and found a place called Dos Tacos in Seoul Square. It was the only business open in the Square when we arrived, and the food was pretty convincing. We stuffed ourselves on Mexican cuisine, and hopped a train to the other side of the river where we wanted to check out a fountain show that plays off of a bridge. 

We saw the lights of the show as we approached, but we arrived after the last show ended. Nothing to be sad about though, as the Han river is a mighty river that is cool enough to look at on its own. We sat there for an hour or so watching Korean couples and families play in the darkness. This country is very different as you don't feel the need to look over your shoulder constantly at night when you're in a dark place. In fact, it seemed strange to see people playing basketball and children riding bicycles so late at night, but it's Korea, and everything is different here!

The next morning we headed for the Seoul Zoo. I found the zoo to be fairly nice, with better treatment of the animals than I would have imagined. It was a little startling however how little, umm, fencing there was for some of the big cats. I thought the Tigers might not have a problem getting to us if they really wanted to...but I'm no expert. We spent the day at the zoo, and although it threatened to rain on us all day, it only managed a few sprinkles at the very end of our time at the zoo.

After the zoo we headed over to the Coex mall to grab dinner (we went to TGIFridays, if you think we're crazy for getting western food in Korea when we have the opportunity, you've never lived somewhere where it's not always easy to find your old favorites...) and see the aquarium. Unfortunately after our meal the aquarium was only open for another couple of hours, so we didn't go. It was a bit expensive for only 2 hours. We did do a bit of shopping though. I bought a man-bag and a hat, and Babehoney got some jeggings. I also splurged on new headphones. They had a Nintendo store, but it was very expensive and they didn't have a 3DS, so it was of little interest.

The next morning it was raining cats and dogs. We grabbed breakfast at Dunkin Donuts. I had a banana donut, chocolate donut, and tomato/carrot glazed donut. I'm not so hot on the tomato/carrot glazed kind ;). After breakfast we walked over to Cheongyeonggung Palace where we spent most of the day. Seeing a palace like this devoid of tourists is awesome, and the rain made the experience unique. It was easy to imagine wearing those ornate, shiny robes and sitting in a palace like this making policy decisions and deciding who should be executed by slicing.

On the way back to the train station we made 2 stops. One was for Japanese curry, and it was really good, but not super notable. The other one was at the Hello CAT Cafe. Not the Hello Kitty Cafe. Hello Kitty Cafe was pink with Hello Kitty faces everywhere. Hello Cat cafe was much more plain, with CATS everywhere. For 8,000 won you get a drink and admission to pet the cats. There were probably about 15 of them and some of them were more snuggly than others, but it was really nice to borrow a kitty for a while and get some furry animal petting time in. They even had a sphinx, which was pretty cool. Hairless cats feel a bit like plucked chickens in case you're wondering.

At the end of the day we hopped on board the KTX and sped back to Daegu for a short workweek. In fact, last Friday was teacher's day. All of our classes were shortened so that teaching hours ended at 12:30, and I received a flower and two really cute letters from two of my students. Some people were loaded down with ricecakes and stuff, but I'm plenty happy with two handwritten letters instead...ricecakes aren't really my thing :). 

After such a big weekend we didn't have a whole lot of energy to do much other than go to work and taekwondo, but we made it to 3 classes last week and now the master has offered for us to take a promotion test on May 28th. Last weekend we stayed in town and spent some time in public parks reading books, doing a bit more sport shopping and searching for new restaurants. We found one called "The Holy Grill" that actually has respectable Mexican food. All of the servers speak perfect English and it's a good escape from the normal Daegu places we go. It's worth every single of the 16,000W for the enchilada or chimichanga too! Now, off to plan the next big adventure.

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