We slept in and then did a bit of roaming around Myeongdong, Dongdaemun and Sinchon
Sunday February 18, 2013
We slept and slept and slept until about 1:30 for me and 2:30 for Chantelle. When I told her what time it was she didn’t even believe me.
We didn’t even get out of the apartment until about 3:30ish. Margaret and Saidi decided to come with us as well.
Back to Myeongdong
Searching for Myeongdong Gyoja
I had picked out a lunch restaurant called Myeongdong Gyoja but wow was it hard to find. The instructions I got off a blog were to go to the Myeongdong subway exit 7 and then look for the Watson drug store close by. That was disaster #1. I swear we walked around the busy alleyways of Myeongdong for a good 40 minutes getting lost multiple times. We finally ended up asking some locals. Good thing the name was actually pronounceable because otherwise the locals would have been even more confused. So disaster #2 like we realized a few days ago was that the restaurant store front had no English characters at all so we passed it numerous times when we were trying to find it. We’re such idiots!
The lunch (more like dinner almost at 4PM) however was not an idiotic choice. The place is known for its dumplings so we got a few of those. They were ok. Kind of a xiao long bao copy with less juices but equally thin wrapping skin. What really surprised us was the second item on the menu which were the dumpling noodle soup. The noodles are those hand stretched noodles that must’ve been created in the back kitchen hours before because they were so fresh. The bounce of the noodles Coupled with the soup broth was wow.
After that we made our way to our first Caffe Bene but it seemed like everything was “sold out” (what the hell? There are a gazillion cafes in Seoul) so we found another. We had an assortment of waffles (excellent in Korea surprisingly if I didn’t mention it last time) and I got this berry ice cream jello thing in a glass cup. We met up another one of their teacher classmates Kevin there as well.
I had been wanting to go to one of the night markets but since Namdaemun was closed we decided to check out Dongdaemun.
Once we got there it turned out to be a shopping fiesta with markets reminiscent of China. We went to this one mega complex called Madiori (sp?) and this place was 7 or 8 floors of small clothing stalls. Of course only 1 floor was for guys. The guys split up from the girls and agreed to meet up at 9PM. Kevin and I roamed around our floor for a bit and after awhile everything started looking the same. I totally lost track of where we were on the floor. I was a little apprehensive about shopping at first because I had no idea if Kevin was interested at all but he made the first kill. Man these Koreans are aggressive! They yell at you when you’re passing by and grab and tug you over. I eventually found a decent dress shirt and the haggling formula basically goes like this:
The Korean Haggling Formula
- point out item of interest and ask for price
- vendor ignores price question, and instead asks about size and insists on you trying it on
- you try it on
- then the negotiation really happens and the guy systematically knocks off the price on the calculator as if he’s automatically giving you a good price.
- Korean price
- Cash price
- 10% discount for tourists (this may actually be legit because there was some sort of Korea sale)
- you look at the numbers at disgust. He/she then asks you what you want. You lowball like crazy
- they lower the price 10,000 or less
- they may then ask you to give them some more money because the difference is small so they can feed their family or some bs.
- repeat 5-7 until they either cave in because you’re walking away or they tell you to screw off
I ended up buying that dress shirt for 20,000 and got a nice trendier wool double zip winter jacket for 45,000
For the winter jacket apparently it helped that I was talking to the owner and that I was buying something off season. All their new arrivals were for spring already so i guess they were trying to clear things out. Kevin was actually wearing the same jacket but he said he paid much more for it late last year.
So that was the extent of my shopping adventures in Korea. 1.5 hours of haggling and 45 minutes over our 9PM scheduled meet up time. No worries though. As Kevin and I suspected the girls had no problem with that at all. Haha.
One crazy thing we did after the shopping was we found this area of Dongdaemun with a bunch of food stalls and then this ONE ride which is this ridiculous spinning wheel with seats around it’s circumference. The thing is it’s all free for all seating with no seat belts. The ridiculousness doesn’t stop there. This Korea guy that must be talking dirty or something does the commentary while controlling the spinning and at certain points will pop the one side of the wheel up and down to lift the people on the wheel off their seats. This goes on and on and he even puts some people on the spot light while the wheel has stopped moving and just pops the wheel up and down. Yup and guess what…we went on it haha.
To wrap up the night we were looking for food again but the Doota mall food court was closing up so we canned back to Sinchon to have some fruit soju and snacks at a place called Warawara. Their strawberry soju was excellent and mini stone bowl bimbimbaps an awesome mini snack.
Tips & Tricks
- Korean clothing markets – Don’t expect prices to be like China. That was my big mistake at the beginning and I was truly low balling them hard. After seeing Kevin do his thing I kind of had a better idea of what the bar was. Some stuff really only is moderately cheaper than real store stuff. For example my dress shirt I would’ve seriously paid maybe 10,000 for it but paid 20,000 instead. Negotiate hard though because i was being offered 26,000 for the longest time until i walked away.
- What I do like about the markets here is that almost all the clothes they had on display were trendy and they don’t try to copy brands. Instead they may imitate some stuff but there’s no branding on them at all.
- Dongdaemun had crazy number of fashion complexes open pretty much 24 hours/day. Insanity. We’re talking about 4-5 or maybe even more of the exact same complexes as Madiori.
- Soju – It’s basically the price of water here. Dollar for a bottle. Crazy!
- Myeongdong Gyoja – seriously good. Almost only locals here so you know it’s legit.
- I wake up at 1:30PM
- Chantelle wakes up at 2:30PM
- Myeongdong for an extremely late lunch at Myeongdong Gyoja
- Dessert at Caffe Bene
- Dongdaemun shopping
- Dinner at a fruit soju bar Warawara
Addresses & Directions
- Myeongdong Gyoja (명동교자)
- Address: 29, Myeongdong 10-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 중구 명동10길 29 (명동2가)
Operating Hours: opens daily from 1030 to 2130
- Directions: Myeongdong Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 8.
Upon exiting the station, turn left onto Myeongdong 10-gil Road.
Go straight about 150m to arrive at Myeongdong Gyoja (명동교자) on the right. It’s near a Watsons
- Address: 29, Myeongdong 10-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Address: Refer to business card. It’s on the 4th and 5th floor
- Operating Hours: 5PM-5AM/5PM-3AM
- Directions: Refer to business card
Check out the next day
We were back at the touristy stuff the next day, exploring the Bokchon Hanok Village and then making our way back down to go watch the Cookin’ Nanta Show. Check it out here: Day 5 – Seoul – More Touristy Stuff. Make sure to head over to see how all of my 7 days in Seoul unfolded in a detailed itinerary.