I spent most of today on the north side of the river, and it was a good change of scenery. Granted, I'm there twice a week anyway for church and BSF, but it was nice to visit on a Saturday and experience a different pace. A brunch meeting (for the still-to-be-announced special project) brought me to Itaewon, and so that's where my day began. Lots of people were out, and even though I've been there a few times, it still throws me off to see so many Westerners in one place, especially since my neighborhood seems to have so few. Incidentally, the meeting was terrific -inspiring, invigorating, and something I'm excited to share once I get the green light...
From Itaewon I ventured to Myeongdong where I did something very NYC which amused me greatly: I stood in line to get into H&M. It's the first one in Seoul, and the hype has been brewing since I arrived in September. The last time I waited in line to get into an H&M (or any store for that matter) was at the shop on 59th and Lex, back in 2006 when the Viktor & Rolf collection debuted. The new store was packed, the salespeople were friendly, and the shoppers looked euphoric. Even though the prices were definitely higher than in the States, I was happy, too.
While in Myeongdong, I also did something very Korean. I'd read about a restaurant that's been operating there for 40 years, serving the country's tastiest mandoo. Always ready for dumplings, I decided to find the place (no small feat). I waited in line there as well and was thrilled to be the only Westerner; it made the whole experience feel more authentic. Since I already knew what I wanted (kalguksu, knife-cut noodle soup with a few token dumplings), I ordered when I was seated, and 60 seconds later it appeared. The food was excellent, and the portions enormous; can't wait to go back with some friends.
One noteworthy aspect of being on the north side of town is that it's more compact, so I was able to cover a lot of ground in minimal time. I even made a return visit to Namdaemun, which was fun. It seemed livelier and more interesting during twilight.
I definitely appreciate a day like today. On top of the aforementioned highlights, the weather was cooperating, and I got through all the outside activity wearing a jean jacket and pashmina -no gloves or heavy coat!