Exploring Seoul! Day 6
Bonguensa Temple, Coex, Dongdaemun, and New Friends!

Hotel breakfast: somehow, pasta dishes are offered??
Hotel breakfast: somehow, pasta dishes are offered as “healthy food”?? Had some darn decent congee with a smattering of proteins: bulgogi, fish, egg, bacon, egg, chased down with yogurt and lox.
Observation: bus maps can fit a whole lot more text if it's vertical. I propose we switch all English writing to vertical to accommodate more room.
Observation on the way to temple: bus maps can fit a whole lot more text if written in the squarish space of a character. I propose we switch all English writing to similar style to accommodate more room.
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@Bonguensa Temple: lots of paper lanterns.
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@Bonguensa Temple: the view toward Coex Mall.
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Various views in Bonguensa Temple. Bottom right: I thought this might be brown rice tea, but it was not. It was something…very..sweet. :/
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@Bonguensa Temple: Still hard to tell from this vantage, but this buddha statue is several many stories high.
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@Bonguensa Temple: sorry for the vain pose, but if you want more narrative on the temple, you can zoom in on this plaque.
@Coex Mall: mascots for everything!
@Coex Mall: mascots for everything! They also had a couple indoor slides at this mall, but otherwise it was just another mall, really.
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@Gangnam neighborhood: you’d think that pork katsu with an egg on it, atop soup would be kinda soggy in a non-delicious way, but this was awesomely savory in a crunch-but-not way. Mmmm.
Note to self: return to East Asia another summer for adorably arranged shave ice!
Note to self: return to East Asia another summer for adorably arranged shave ice!
@Gangnam: checked out the Samsung D'light Shop, the display and demo center for Samsung's latest products. Yes, Korea is definitely Samsung country, giant screens everywhere.
@Gangnam: checked out the Samsung D’light Shop, the display and demo center for Samsung’s latest products. Yes, Korea is definitely Samsung country, giant screens everywhere.
@Samsung d'light shop: oooh, virtual reality goggles! Note: couldn't figure out how to get it to select 'start.' Pfft.
@Samsung d’light shop: oooh, virtual reality goggles! Note: couldn’t figure out how to get it to select ‘start.’ Pfft.
@Gangnam in basement below Samsung d'light shop: apparently, they had no solutions for us. :(
@Gangnam in basement below Samsung d’light shop: apparently, they had no solutions for us. 🙁
@Dongdaemun: this used to mark the eastern perimeter of Seoul, dating back to 1398, its name means literally "Great East Gate". It was exciting for me to gradually realize the word for door/gate is the same in Chinese ('mun').
@Dongdaemun: this used to mark the eastern perimeter of Seoul, dating back to 1398, its name means literally “Great East Gate”. It was exciting for me to gradually realize the word for door/gate is the same in Chinese (‘mun’).
@Dongdaemun: this below-street pedestrian walkway called Cheonggyecheon looked really nice. Too bad we ran low on time to go see some new friends! Also nearby: high-end cutting edge fashion shops. Also ran out of time on that too (and hit the quota for shopping earlier that day).
@Dongdaemun: this below-street pedestrian walkway called Cheonggyecheon looked really nice. Too bad we ran low on time to go see some new friends! Also nearby: high-end cutting edge fashion shops. Also ran out of time on that too (and hit the quota for shopping earlier that day). Not shown here: a street vendor, who among her delicious snacks, appeared to also be selling some kind of grubs.

The highlight of the day was getting to hang out with a couple friends we met through a wedding in Vermont last May, felt so fortunate they made time for a visit on a random Monday night! Matt and Elise were gracious hosts, obtaining Korean-style fried chicken and fries delivered, and opening their home to us for a few hours of good conversation over beer. Got to hear first-hand about expat life in Seoul, the chaebol-ruled politics, other random stuff, and even got to meet sweet little Eva and her new baby sister Isa. Check out Elise’s tumblr at Elise Goes East! Can hardly wait to spot her on NPR’s East Asia beat.

After dinner we were beat, but there’s something about the heat and humidity in the day, that makes people go out late at night more here. Plus, it was our last night in town, so we ventured out for some craft beer around the corner from the hotel.

@Gangnam: descending into 7Brau for some craft beer.
@Gangnam: descending into 7Brau for some craft beer.
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@7Brau: ice beer! Yes, that foam is frozen…

Observations:

  • Just like in the States, people here have their noses buried in their smartphones all over the place too. The main difference is just more Samsung representation. Thankfully, it didn’t feel as crowded as some other Asian metropolises I’ve visited, so even though people seemed to have less spatial awareness and almost walk into you all the time, there’s more escape routes than you’d expect.
  • In terms of places to explore solo, Buddhist temples are well-suited to quiet reflection by an individual, whereas malls may prove quite depressing to go shopping in on a weekday morning without a co-conspirator.
  • Also: the common space in malls here aren’t air conditioned, so I was feeling self-conscious being “that sweaty foreigner.” Ugh.
  • Pro v. Cons: on getting out of the hotel earlier in the day: saw a tranquil temple. Con: mileage on feet ran out earlier, so I was basically exhausted and running on fumes and willpower by later afternoon. I get really loopy when that happens… blegh.
  • Apparently, two things that are hard to find around here are: ranch dressing and taco mix. Since K and I were taught never to show up as guests, empty-handed, we muled some overseas for Elise and Matt.
  • Bus etiquette: for a moment, I thought people were really rude not scooting toward the window from an aisle seat on the bus, but then new folks entering would just squeeze through to the window seat. So I guess that sort of behavior is only necessarily when there isn’t room to squeeze through.

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