Last Stop: Dongdaemun

Dongdaemun was the last shopping district I needed to visit (simply because COEX Mall and the Gangnam area are both wickedly expensive), and who better to spend the day with than my lovely friend from Calgary!
Again, I walked, although only for about 45 minutes this time. It was also ridiculously hot outside today, and there was hardly a breeze.

I also managed to get ever so slightly lost inside the station by Dongdaemun Stadium, one stop before Dongdaemun Station, where I was supposed to be meeting my friend. I was 15 minutes late, but as a result, I think it made our meeting that much sweeter. I mean, we ran to each other from half a block away just to hug! Oh the stares we probably got (although we didn’t notice any, not that we were paying attention).

The first thing we did was grab lunch from a cheap little place by the station. There weren’t any pictures or English on the menu, so thankfully my friend was there. My only requirements were that whatever she ordered for me be cold. I think I got bibimguksu again, but this time made with potato starch noodles, unlike Jenny’s homemade version, which I think used a wheat noodle as they were a lot easier to bite through. The potato starch noodles are very, very chewy, and you actually need to take a pair of scissors to them in order to make them somewhat managable. It was very good, and I don’t know why everyone is telling me they’ll be spicy. Neither the homemade version nor the resaurant’s were very spicy at all, or at least not for me.

After we finished our meal, we were served iced plum green tea, which I thought tasted very similar to the plum sake I’m able to buy at home. It wasn’t as sweet though, and of course it didn’t have the alcohol taste, so needless to say, it was very good. We also ordered a bowl of patbingsu to share between the two of us. Unlike the one I saw for takeout in Ewha the other day, this was a giant bowl filled with shaved ice, red beans, canned fruit, corn flakes, and condensed milk. Normally, patbingsu costs anywhere from 6000 to 12,000 won, but this was only about 5000, and could have probably been a meal in itself.

Next we shopped! Dongdaemun is home to four malls: Lotte, APm, Doota, and Migliore.We only went to Doota and Migliore as APm was closed, and Lotte tends to be out of our price range. There were also plenty of street stalls around the area selling clothes, accessories, and souvenirs. I spent $20 on a pair of mint green jeans since I’ve wanted a pair for awhile, and they were a lot cheaper than those you can find in Calgary. Besides, for $20 I don’t care if they aren’t in season next year.

Dongdaemun only took us a few hours to shop through, so we parted ways around 3:30 and I walked back towards my hostel. As always, I browsed through a bit of Myeongdong as I passed through, and ended up buying a few gifts for friends. I can’t help it, I need to at least look through the SSFW shops to decide if I want a new purse or not. Why am I not rich?

On my way to Dongdaemun.

Heunginjimun, also known as the “Gate of Rising Benevolence,” or Dongdaemun.

Patbingsu!

One of the side streets was lined with pet shops selling anything from cats to frogs to chickens.


Cheap Clothes in Ewha!

I am a really cheap person. Sort of.
I could say that I just like to walk, which I do, but that becomes a lie once it’s 30 degrees out. No, instead I walked for two hours to get to Ewha Womans University, because, simply put, I’d rather have an extra two dollars to spend on clothes than a subway ticket. On a side note, I suppose it is good exercise, minus the whole my calf muscles might end up too big from all the walking that I’ve been doing since I’ve arrived.

The first thing I did once I left the hostel was get lost. I knew I would need to head north from Seoul Station, and I made it there perfectly fine. Unfortunately, with all the weird diagonal streets Seoul seems to consist of, I managed to head northeast, and found myself back in Namdaemun, about halfway back from where I originally came from. I changed route and decided to head towards City Hall, as there were signs everywhere pointing towards it, and from there, I could just follow one road towards Sinchon Rotary, which again had signs everywhere pointing in the direction.

After my lovely hike (I didn’t get lost again, thankfully), I finally made it to the university, and thusly the shopping district. Ewha, or Edae, is geared towards young women, selling many trendy clothes and accessories for reasonable prices. For less than $25 I managed to buy a new dress, a pair of flats, and a shirt. Ewha is also the place to go for a new haircut it seems, as there was at least one hair salon on every street.

The Ewha and Sinchon areas also happen to be a haven for both privaately owned cafes, as well as those run by larger businesses. If you’re ever thirsty, you’ll have plenty to choose from here. Not to mention these cafes were selling some of the cheapest desserts I’ve seen so far. If you were to order “patbingsu” as takeout, it would only cost 2500 won for about a Starbucks’ tall sized cup filled with shaved ice, sweet red beans, and ice cream. Yumm. (Disclaimer: This is assuming I managed to read everything correctly, so if you’re in the area and don’t find it, it’s not my fault!)

Finding my way back to the hostel was much easier. There was only one corner where I didn’t know exactly which way to turn, but again, following the road signs helped. I also managed to take the route I originally planned to use to get to Ewha (via Seoul Station), which helped shave some time off the walk and let me explore a little. And, waiting for me at the hostel when I got back was a very late lunch, made by Jenny! Such lovely hosts I have. =]

Ewha Womans University

Shopping!

There are a ton of cafes in Ewha and Sinchon.

On the way to and from Ewha, you pass by a street lined with wedding shops.

Mixed in with the wedding dresses are hanbok.

A few blocks after the wedding shops is a street lined with furniture shops. 

The French Embassy

Seoul Station

Seoul Station’s underground mall

Lunch! Bibimguksu made by Jenny. Delicious!

And look what I saw when I was trying to decide to go back via City Hall or Seoul Station. Sorry for my lack of paparazzi skills and the subsequent slightly blurry picture. Just trust me when I say he had a cute smile.
Oh my, guess which other pretty boys I found on my way back…

Honey String Candy

Considerably less shopping was done today; unfortunately more money was spent compared to my previous expenditures. I’m definitely going to have to start living off those wang mandu.

On another note, I walked to Insadong with another girl staying at the hostel. Since Insadong is farther than Myeongdong or Namdaemun, I actually remembered to bring my camera with me, in case I didn’t get a chance to go back.
Insadong specializes in traditional cultural goods, making it a lovely place for souvenirs. Surprisingly, there were still many more young Koreans frequenting the area rather than foreigners.
I’ll go into more detail tomorrow, but the highlight of Insadong was seeing how traditional “honey string candy” was made. Basically, the confectioner stretches honey into 16,000 strings, and then wraps it around a nut and sugar filling. Delicious? Yes, yes it is.
The guys here were very friendly, demonstrating and explaining how they made the candy (in fluent English no less!). I wish I had taken a video, but alas, pictures will have to do.

Oh, and did I mention Insadong was just full of cute boys?