Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day 4 - Namdaemun Market, Tandem Bike Rides & Han River Boat Ride

Monday August 2nd:

Our sad view from the hotel.  And below part of the lobby.
After a great night I couldn't wait to see what we could find for the day ahead.  For our second day in Seoul we woke up to find a nice rainy day.  You couldn't even see N. Soul Tower out our window anymore.  We thought about catching an earlier train home however we figured we were already there we might as well make the best of it. So we spent some time thinking of what we wanted to see and do for the day and then checked out of the Hilton, headed over to Seoul Station to stash our stuff in a locker and then decided to check out the Namdaemun market. 

Here are some of my random facts about the  market.  Namdaemun means the Great South Gate
  • It is one of Korea's largest wholesale markets
  • It covers over 10 acres
  • It has over 1,000 shops , retailers,street vendors, and so on.
  • They have everything from cloths, shoes, fabric, flowers, jewelry, ginseng (huge for memory and claims to help make people smarter), toys and so on.
  • Over all the place is a shoppers dream if you don't mind tons of people and tight spaces.
 So you would think this place would of been my heaven. I mean it was warehouses full of some of the coolest jewelry I have ever seen; however they had so many small stalls crammed in them with people making jewelry that it felt more like a sweat shop. Once back out on the streets they had lots of shoe stalls full of cheap unique looking shoes however most not in my size. They also had tons of purse stalls; however unlike Itaewon they were full of very bad looking knock offs. It was a very fun experience and one I wouldn't trade, but I could of done without the tons of Korean people there shoving and pushing us out of the way.

3 Story Krispy Kreme
Once out of the market we wondered around in no general direction and found a few cool department like stores underground that had all kinds of "imported" stuff like candy, shampoo, deodorant, and so on from the states, it was kind of odd. Ryan was sad they had just about every candy but Skittles, and most of the candy was old. We then checked out some of the underground shops that connect to the subways and different streets as we tried to get over to a mall with a movie theater.  We were hoping to catch Toy Story 3 to help us kill some time before our 9:30 train out. Most of the stores were closed and then sadly once we got to the mall we found out it was new and most things were not open yet including the movie theater.  Once back outside we headed down a busy looking street to try to find a DVD shop with no luck but we did find a nice big 3 story Krispy Kreme.  Just like at home they made the doughnuts on the spot however they had many more flavors and different things you could get.  We ordered and sat down to enjoy our sugary snack and watch people line up to get doughnuts by the box full. 

What we guess to be Korea's try at the renaissance.
And again

Then right next to the renaissance was modern Korea.
Once done we needed to move on to our plan B trying to get down to the Han River. So not too sure where we were we jumped in a taxi and headed off, little did we know our taxi driver had no clue where he was going, or where we wanted to go and we ended up over by the Mexican consulate. After going in what we could tell was the wrong direction but not knowing how to correct him we finally just had him drop us off and took off walking back to the main road. Once back at the main road we got in another cab and this time pulled out our guide book to show the man where exactly it was we wanted to go on the map, this trip went much better.

The park
Once at the park we got our tickets for the boat ride at 4:30, and headed over to the bike rental place and got ourselves a tandem, that's right a bicycle built for two! At first Ryan was going to let me be in the front so I could steer but it soon became evident that someone who has not been on a bike in years may not be the best person to steer or ride a tandem with and we had to switch places. After practicing for a few minutes we were off on a nice summer bike ride down by the river, it was so cute just like in the movies! We even stopped under the bridge to take a break and watch and old Korean man fish with a long bamboo poll, we thought he had something at one point but I guess it got away.

A few pictures from our ride along the river.

Why yes that is a Lespo bike!
Train and Metro/Subway Tracks

Under the bridges
Ryan by our super cool bike!

Old man fishing
Ryan trying to get a picture of us as we rode back to the park.

Once back at the park we turned in our bike and headed towards the playground, I must say I think they build things better over here. Anyways we played on the teeter toter, some cool thing that I think they use for training ninjas, Ryan was much better at it then me. After almost falling I gave up and decided to hold on to whatever grown up persona I give off and headed to board the boat.

It's the kid in him I love so much!
Look at that ninja skill.....
As you can see I was lacking the ninja skills

The boat ride was great, it was nice and breezy, the views were beautiful as the sun started to set, and I even learned a thing or two about different points on the river. After about an hour on the river we returned and decided it was time to head back to the train station so we started off towards the subway. As always we sometimes get a little confused on the subways but after a few right and wrong turns we were back at Seoul Station.

Here are some of the many picture I took on the boat ride.
To start out the trip I was a little bored and noticed that the looking glass things looked like Wall-E and then if you filped it around it looked like Wall-E's little sister if he had one.

This island is where they use to send the "sinners" however I don't know what kept them on the island.

Nope that's not a huge bar of gold, it's the 63rd Tower.

We're on a boat!

We had just enough time to grab our stuff out of our locker and get some Pizza Hut for dinner. All I have to say about Pizza Hut was rip off man they get Koreans on that stuff here, they offer personal pan pizzas, regular pizzas, and large pizzas, and we got a veggie regular pizza with a salad bar for two, one water and one Mountain Dew 25,000 Won so about $20 USD.  I should first explain that when you get the salad bar in Korea they only bring you one plate, and no not one plate for one trip but one plate for all the people at the table. I find it quite odd but I guess it's just how they do things they do a lot of big portion sizes places that people share. Another strange thing is that if one person at table gets a soda everyone has to order a soda because Koreans will put multiple straws in and share. Anyways we were shocked when our pizza showed up and it was what would be personal pan size at home, so we are now trying to figure out what a personal pan pizza is here.
Seoul Square turns the windows into a movie of people walking at night. 
Seoul Station always seems kind of plain to me.
After dinner we bought some tickets to Dajeon to go to Costco the next day and then jumped on the train and headed home happy to have seats after our long day.  We spent our hour tyring to start planning out exactly what we want to do with my parents when they come next month.  Once back we headed over to the bus station where we saw what we thought was the last 70 of the night pulling out.  We waited around for a few minutes knowing that it was only a little after 10:30 so we still had time before the last bus out should of left.  We got lucky and a 370 pulled in that was empty but soon filled up with Koreans, I swear they come out of nowhere, so we jumped on grabbed some seats and talked about what we needed from Costco, it's bad to go without a list when you have to drag it all back in suitcases and duffel bags.

Once back we crashed out for the night happy to be back home but missing the nice air condoning of the Hilton. 

And I don't know why this picture is here but blogger wont let me delet it : (

1 comment:

Chastity said...

Okay so this is my second attempt to comment. Hope it works. I really liked this blog. It seems like every vacation we go on we find ourselves on a boat too! Gotta love the triple decker Krispy Kreme! I thought the people their were small ? I guess they work off their doughnuts by doing some of those mad ninja skill exercises. Which, that looks really hard by the way.
The bike ride looks romantic. wow..I could see us trying to do that now, I would make us crash for sure! Sadly, I haven't ridden my bike since we have moved here. I always like boat rides; Its just a neat way of seeing cities and towns. Be careful with those taxis, it sounds like they went the wrong on purpose to get more money out of you guys. You are getting good at the public transportation systems. Pizza Hut is a little different here as well not to extent of sharing drinks like that and everyone having to order the same thing. That's bizzare. I am guessing that at restaurants if there is an open seat someone can just come and sit down ? Its like that here. We have to pay extra for drinks and sauces. We never get re fills on anything. We found another pizza place called Joeys. Do you have a Joey's ? sorry I got distracted by food. I always like reading your blogs. I hope we can visit Korea one day.