Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Korea 4th Dec 2008

Anyong Haseo!!

Husband's 4 day trip to Korea was great. Great because unlike many of his trips abroad, this time around I got to go too. Ain't that great!

The one and a half hour journey into the city from the airport took longer than usual. Upon crossing Han River, we found ourselves stuck in a traffic jam... crawling slowly into Seoul city. As we gazed out from the MPV, hubby and I were struck by the level of patriotism amongst the Koreans when it came to owning cars. Daewoos, Hyundais and Ssangyongs lined the streets with hardly any foreign cars to be seen anywhere. Sooooo unlike home.

Anyway, once checked into our hotel... our party of 7 took a taxi and headed for the silk shops. A few days earlier, hubby had read in the internet about a certain area which is known to be a good place to purchase silk. Just in case anyone is thinking of going there in the future, perhaps this address may be of use to you as it has to us.


Tel : 22660167, 22760169 HP : 011-2760169

It's a good idea to call the shop in advance as someone from the shop might be able to wait for you at the entrance. Honestly, I don't think we'd have been able to find our way to the shop as the area was a huge labryinth of little textile shops which looked pretty much identical.

At the shop, we were greeted by a young and pleasant shop assistant who surprised us by speaking English. Not only was she pretty, she had vocabulary to boot using the word "shabby" to describe the food stalls in the area. My F5 students at school can surely learn a thing or two from this girl. Her motivation and drive to learn English can easily put my students to shame.

Our helpful Korean "silk" girl assisting our group in search for lunch

Through our newly found interpreter, we were able to get a discount from the owner of the shop. He called it the "Malaysian Embassy Price" (Wallahualam). Now this had me thinking immediately about the number of Malaysian customers that must have walked through the doors of his modest shop over the years. It must have been somewhere in between his use of the word "baju kurung" and "cantik" that I was bought over and hubby soon found himself having to depart from his many many Korean wons. Don't we just lurve our husbands!!

Yes. Two of the five pieces that ended in my shopping bag. Husband finally redeemed after his A Tale of the Korean Silk fiasco last year.

On a walkabout
Our walk around Dongdaemun area saw us passing by many specialised shops. There were rows that specialised in sewing machines, another that sold plastics and rubber bands of all shapes and sizes, another had books stacked from floor to ceiling (my fav), some sticker shops...and the amazing thing is, these shops were sooo tiny. In most instances there would probably be enough standing room for 3 people!

Orthodontic rubber bands for giants available here

Customized stickers service

Namdaemun Night Market
For cheap souveniers to take home, this is the place to go. Little Korean trinkets like paper fans, book markers, keychains, placemats, small dessert spoons and forks, brooches and hair accesories abound everywhere you turn. Communication may be a problem...a BIG problem sometimes...but don't despair. On your part resort to sign language (as I did many many times) and on the seller's part he/she will be punching the numbers on his/her calculator for you to see. Definetely no communication barrier there!

Market comes alive at night from 7pm till midnight

Flying thousands of miles away, to end up buying
Vietnamese silk handbags in Korea!

If this interests you the place is

#18, 1F, Co Co B/D.

52-1 Namchang-Dong, Choong-Gu, Seoul, Korea

In Kimchi-land, halal food is scarce. Unless you know where to look, finding halal food is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Luckilly I had mom's sambal ikan bilis in my emergency kit. This was of course eaten together with maggi mee brought from home. Once awhile, when sick of maggi, the sambal was eaten with bread. Extradiondinary times call for extradordinary measures..

Simply delish!

Anyway, it was during one of our walkabouts on the first day that we stumbled upon a small halal kebab shop which if I'm not mistaken is located near Hoehyeon Station. It was manned by an Iraqi who had been in the country for the past 6 months. We were of course ecstatic to see him. Whilst he was happy to see fellow Muslims in Korea, we were of course happy to see him for reasons more related to our tummy! Needless to say the kebabs were savoured and devoured in a matter of seconds by the hungry travellers..

For truly satisfying kebabs at 3000 won (roughly rm7.50) call 776 6904

Getting around in taxis would be ideal. It's faster (when there's no traffic jams of course) and less tiring on the feet. The only thing is, one must be willing to part with the thousands of wons in the wallet. Perhaps, it's only right that when in Korea, one needs to at least try the subway system.... no matter how complicated it may seem. Used to the less complicated London underground, I have to admit being slightly intimidated by the whole Korean subway thing. Lucky for us, we had hubby's good fren (Dr Chew) to take us on a train hopping experience. Looking at the way how he managed to get us from one place to another, one could mistake him for a local. Perhaps Korea is indeed his second home and his real name is Dr Kim Chew!

Care to decipher the map???

So over the 3 days, we got around using the subway... and life would definetely be incomplete if we didn't get lost along the way ;> We had actually got down at the wrong station on our way back to the hotel and ended up unsure as how to proceed from there. Instead of exiting at Seolleung Station, we had somehow rather exited at Samseong Station. The tall modern buildings surrounding the area gave little hints as to where we were. It didn't help either that by that time, the temperature had dropped to just slightly above 0 celcius and we were freezing our @*%%$ off. But thank god for 2 Korean men who helped us by getting us a taxi back to the hotel. I was more than happy to jump into the cab as I felt we were slowly but surely turning into popsicles!


D said...

you bought only 5?????? buat niaga best tu cikgu!! :)

F Manchester said...

Did you buy me one? heh heh..

Anyways, other then eating and shopping- what other sights did you see? Did you visit the old olympic stadium? Any interesting museums, cultural stuff- temples, gardens, etc...

kuching tompang said...

We went to a cultural centre called namdaemon where they sell their exhibits for a fee...namely hair apparel and little trinkets for souvenirs

Hannan's Pahang Adventure