Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Panoramic Seoul and street shopping

Our first full day in Seoul brought us a bit of sight seeing and some crazy shopping spaces and of course more food. We started by hopping on the hotel trolley (which was really a van driven by the dude at the front desk). We circled around part of the downtown area (if you can call one part of Seoul downtown) past a palace or two, then to the base of a foothill where we jumped off. We boarded a cable car that took us up the hill and dropped us at an ancient lookout post atop the hill complete with fellas dressed in traditional uniforms practicing the Korean version of the changing of the guard. We wandered around a bit, I drew a couple of different things then proceeded toward the edge where one can see the whole of the city. It was breathtaking in its sprawl. The bridges, the water and the city piled together in the valleys and the mountains fade into the distance covered by a grey smog. Walking around there are a bunch of places where visitors have put locks all over (locking their love together) and it is quite unbelievable how many there are.

We went up to the observation deck where the panoramic view became even more sublime, ate some lunch over looking the world below then traveled back down on the cable car to do some shopping.

in the elevator, riding up to the observation deck of the N Seoul Tower

Shopping in the street market is more chaotic than Black Friday at the mall and it's just an everyday Tuesday afternoon. The streets are stuffed with merchandise and more stuffed with people buying that merchandise. I could only just stand and gawk. And draw. People were constantly peering over my shoulder or rather under my arm to see what exactly the six foot 'ang moh' (foreigner) was doing. So while mindy and her mom and aunt shopped, I hung out in the street watching the people and trying to figure out who had had plastic surgery and who hadn't. As simple of an experience as it was, it was mind boggling to witness.

Our feet sore from walking, we headed back to the hotel where I finished a couple of drawings and mindy began falling asleep. So we went for gelato instead. We ended up cruising around the street near our hotel. The spaces are covered with vendors selling all kinds of shit from useful to useless and poignant to pointless. Around our hotel the crowd seemed much younger, hipper, and more colorful. Loud music blasts from every other street stand or store. There are smells floating, tempting your taste buds. And a million distracting lights, colors and shapes flicker everywhere.

We ended up eating several different things, my favorite being a deep fried spiral cut potato on a stick. We stopped in a couple of different places to eat and by the time we were done the dark had settled down but the street was still pumping. I would say the phrase for today is 'sensory overload'. But wow.

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