Hi guys! Sorry I haven’t been updating as much as I planned; we do so much during the day I’m completely worn out by the time we get home and the internet connection is terrible. Basically we’ve just gone shopping around Sinchon and Hongdae, and today we went to Myundong to see the Namsan Tower. Lot’s of fun, but also a LOT of walking.
It’s a pretty easy walk from Yonsei to Sinchon (only takes us about 10 minutes) but once you get there the walking really begins. We spent all of day 2, most of day 3, and a few hours this morning wandering around the markets of Sinchon and ducking into the hundreds of shops that lined the streets. There are clothing, shoe, makeup, and coffee shops galore! It was super crowded, so it was a bit hard to take pictures (and they never turned out well), but I’ll be posting some as soon as I figure out how.
The coffee, makeup, and shoe stores are more in the central area and make the streets a lot more cluttered, but give you a bunch of options. There are also tons of restaurants and street food stalls that all smell absolutely delicious. We only ate one type this time and it was so much better than I expected. Even now my statement holds true: all the food here is fantastic.
After the street food we went shopping at the various makeup stores and a few clothing stores that caught our interest. WORD OF ADVICE: don’t ever buy anything for full price! About half of the shops we walked by had huge sales (anywhere from 30% to 80% off). Different places go on sales all the time, and even then the shopkeepers are almost always willing to negotiate prices they think they can sell to you. The key is looking like you’re on the fence about buying it and the prices will drop like a hot potato. This usually only works in the shops that aren’t chains (like Etude, Nature Republic, and so on) and that look more like stalls/tents than actual shops. Everyone has super cute style here and adorable shoes, so buying something to fit in is practically a must! Unfortunately the sizes of clothes are a bit too small for me, but if you wear around a size medium in the U.S. you should be good. As for shoes, they typically have size 8 and below, but you’ll have to know your size in centimeters to find the right ones.
The shoes I bought were originally priced at 28,000won but I bought them this morning for only 20,000. They’re very elegant black strappy sandals with gold embellishments and a two inch heel. I’d been eyeing them for a while and the longer the owner talked to us, the more he lowered the price. The girl I was with managed to get her shoes from 29,000 down to 24,000 if I remember correctly (he said it was because it was our first time in Seoul, we were Yonsei students, and because we were paying in cash) and the day before a friend got a shirt down to 12,000 from 19,000 because the owner thought she was pretty, her boss wasn’t around, she paid cash, and her boyfriend would be happy lol. Paying for things in cash seems to be the easiest way to get a discount, but they’ll find just about any reason to shave off a few thousand won if you seem skeptical enough about the price.
Unfortunately I didn’t know that on my first day in Sinchon, so I bought a few things for full price. I got a black and gold purse that matches my new shoes for 10,000won; three bottles of nail polish for 5,000; a headband for 1,000; and a couple other things like pencils and school supplies all for under 20,000. Again, they were full price, but I’m pretty happy with my purchases 🙂
Almost all of the shop keepers we’ve encountered have been thrilled to speak with us in whatever English they knew and were excited to hear the minimal Korean that we knew. It was a bit difficult at times, but with the little bit of Korean I knew, their English skills, and plenty of hand gestures, it all worked out. Oh, and the adjummas (middle-aged women) love compliments! They are absolutely adorable and get so flustered when you tell them they’re pretty!
Night Life in Hongdae:
After our second shopping trip to Sinchon, our group hopped on the subway over to Hongdae for the night. Naturally, the first thing we did was eat! There was a small Udon restaurant near the subway station calling our names, and we couldn’t refuse. The food was fantastic and really cheap for the quality! (I’ll post more about that and the food in general in a separate post.) There were also a few street performers outside the restaurant (which seems to be pretty common here). As far as the streets go, unlike in Sinchon, there were absolutely no streets we went down in Hongdae that weren’t completely packed with people. The city-goers were just as pushy as Sinchon and cars were cutting through crowds like it was nothing. Unfortunately we didn’t do more than window shop around here, but we did get a feel for the city for our next trip over.
And of course, what’s a night on the town without dessert? We passed several signs for different types of bingsoo (shaved ice) and finally decided to duck in to the Thanks Nature Café, which was probably the best decision of the night. The bingsoo was excellent and we dined with some… unusual guests: sheep! They came right up to our tables and were the sweetest things. I’ll make another post with pictures of them and include them a bit in the food post. The atmosphere was really comfortable and the bingsoo was delicious!
Although this and the last entry are quite short, there is definitely more to come, especially when I find out how to post pictures. Until then~