Sunday, September 27, 2009

Namdaemun Market, Shinsegae, and Lotte Mart

Stayed up cleaning until past one last night and tried to make it into a game -like, how long can I scrub this particular grimy area before needing to switch arms? I went through an entire roll of paper towels and then continued with another, but in the end, it seemed like I'd made a difference. I passed out from exhaustion, and when I awoke, was excited to find suggestions on fighting the mold (thanks, Mom, Dad, and Uncle Fog). I've since employed the bleach method, and it's helped some. While not completely eliminated, at least there appears to be less mold, for now...

As a reward for last night's manic cleaning, I treated myself to a field trip this afternoon. Took the subway to Hoehyoen station where I had my first experience at Namdaemun Market. It reminded me of Canal Street in NYC but on a much larger scale. I stumbled upon an orange Goyard bag which I really liked (presumably a knock-off going at the bargain price of 30,000 won, down from 45,000) but resisted the urge to buy it. Instead, I bargained for an umbrella (10,000 won down from 12,00), a teapot (11,000 down from 12,000), and a frying pan (7,000). I wasn't too impressed with my haggling skills and rightly so:  I later found similar items with lower starting prices. Oh well, I'm still a beginner. Having more Korean in my arsenal than just Hello and Thank You will probably come in handy for the next round.


I then ventured over to Shinsegae department store; didn't get past the food hall (go ahead and say it:  no surprise I started there, right?!). It was amazing to see the assortment of high-end brands mixed in with a few randoms, e.g. Auntie Anne's Pretzels. I enjoyed a steamed pork bun served on fancy pink and white china for 2,000 won -delicious. Looking forward to returning to this store, ideally after I get a paycheck.

From Shinsegae, I trekked through Myeongdong, which I've subsequently learned is Korea's trendiest shopping area. Very easy to get lost there as it contains numerous boutiques. Most intriguing are the young women dressed in cute, cheerleader-type uniforms, jumping up and down and handing out samples in an attempt to get people into the stores. I took a photo (below), but it doesn't really capture the full effect. Again, this will be a fun area to re-visit.

I then headed back towards home, stopping off at Jamsil Station to get bleach and other necessities from Lotte Mart. There has got to be a better time to visit that store than on a weekend, because it was jam-packed both today and yesterday when I was there. Locating the bleach was a comedy of errors, but ultimately I found it. I tried asking for it, then acting it out -demonstrating washing clothes and pointing to a saleswoman's white blouse. Both tactics were futile. After scouring the cleaning aisles, I finally found it. How? The bottle's color scheme closely matches that of Clorox, and one whiff of its contents confirmed my hunch. Re-learned an important lesson today, one which I first learned back in NYC -never use a shopping cart when buying groceries. The handle baskets are much better as they serve as a reminder of what you'll be lugging back home, so you're less inclined to overdo it.

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