Monday, March 16, 2009

Seoul, take 3

The next day was our last day to be in Seoul so Mal and Lu were thinking of doing some shopping while Alick was thinking of doing some walking tours. Since Alick was thinking of covering some areas that I had already seen and there was a book market I wanted to check out, so I decided to go with Mal and Lu, as said book market is near the clothes markets they were going to. So we looked at some of the outdoor markets which were pretty cool, with their "adidas" hoody sweatshirts and tracksuits for $10 and all the shoes that probably don't fit me for $10 as well. After looking around, Mal and Lu head into the stores we were at a couple days ago and I go heading off to the used book markets.

After some investigation at the tourist center, I was able to find the book market which was just the side of one street with these tiny closets packed with books with no rhyme or reason. To give a little background information, my main reason for going to the book market was to find something in Spanish because I had already read most of the materials I brought with me and if there is a place that will have a book in Spanish it would be Seoul, right? Another side note, this is a used book market, so it's really like going down a street with churches or libraries doing a book sale. I looked in various ones and saw some of the most random stuff, some books in French, German and English, dictionaries from korean to almost any language, and then some. After a diligent search, I found a Spanish text book and a religious book from Nicaragua and bought them along with an English-Korean/Korean-English dictionary.

Having spent my last won (I only had like $12 on me), I decided it was time to meet up with Mal and Lu. We started our trek back to InsaDong and decided to do the scenic route by walking along this stream that is in the middle of the city. I don't remember the name of this stream but I think it's pretty famous because I've seen it in a couple of k-pop videos. From there, we take some pictures, I make a fool of myself and draw more attention to ourselves, and all in all we have a good time.

Getting back to Insa-Dong in the middle afternoon, we decided to make a dash to this dumpling restaurant. Now we could get dumplings in Ulsan, but this restaurant had something we hadn't seen before, pizza dumplings. We passed by this place on Saturday and talked about going there everyday but just never got around to it, so the build-up for these dumplings was quite big. When we finally get there on Tuesday, we first find out that they don't have the pizza dumplings. What a crushing blow that was! Then the ones we got were good, but it wasn't anything spectacular and definitely not worth the 4 day build-up. Lame!

So we're still in Insa-Dong and we have some time to kill before we were going to try and meet up with Alick so we decide to go to another teahouse. This time though, Mal seemed intent on getting us to a teahouse with actual finches (like the bird) in it. After a couple of bad turns here and there, we finally find the magical finch tea house, which did not disappoint. The actual atmosphere of the teahouse was a lot better than the first one went we to. The previous one was pretty modern but kind of plain, where as this one had all sorts of funky korean decorations and trinkets all over the place. Way cool. Plus, it did have actual live finches flying around in the place, how cool is that? So there we were, sitting on the floor, sipping our tea while finches were flying around us. The actual tea wasn't that good but I think that was due to a poor personal selection more so than them having bad tea. Lu enjoyed hers very much, so it wasn't all bad. On a sidenote, each of these places had probably 15 different flavors of tea so it's quite feasible to get one that may have a different taste, one that you might not enjoy.

We finished our tea, collected our things and then met up with Alick to grab some dinner. From there, Mal, Lu and I booked it to the Metro station to get to the train station on time. In full out rush mode, I go through the first turnstile without much thought, only to realize 1.4 seconds later that I was on the wrong side of the metro. Sugar! Of course, it was just my luck that it was the only metro station that didn't have access to both sides of the metro, which took me a couple of minutes or so to figure out. I finally came to my senses and bit the bullet, exiting the one side of the metro and paying the $1.00 for a new ticket.

I get on the next train and speak with Mal and Lu, who at this point are at the train station to go to Ulsan, and everything was fine, I was 2 stops over and had some 20 minutes to spare or so. Then, with 2 stops to go, the train shuts it down for a bit. They were having some malfunction as the light in one of the cars went out and they said something over the loud speaker, which of course was in Korean so I didn't know what was going down. Now, I'm back into panicking. Please start up, please start up. Time is going by and I'm sitting there thinking to myself, one more minute and I am getting off here to get a taxi. After what seemed like an eternity, the lights finally came back on and we were on our way. In an anti-climatic fashion, I book it to the train station and meet up with Mal and Lu with some time to spare. From there, it was just a 5 hour train ride back to Ulsan, only to have to work the next day......