After pulling an all-nighter to celebrate my classmate’s 27th birthday last night, I woke up this afternoon in my hotel room to discover that my friends had already gone out to get breakfast. I decided to explore Seoul on my own.
First stop: going to Skin Food to pick up some cosmetics for my girlfriend. Walking aimlessly, I eventually found myself in Insadong, a neighborhood known for crafts, artwork, and tea houses. There are many quaint little shops and eateries scattered throughout a labyrinth of alleyways and black tile roofed houses.
The main Insadong gallery is a huge tourist trap. On the positive side, most of the locals can speak Mandarin, Japanese, or English.
Of course, traffic has heavier than usual today. Today is the beginning of a long weekend because Monday is Buddha’s birthday. In Korea, it is a national holiday. Usually, people make plans to travel to Jeju Island or Busan. My team considered doing the same. However, we could not find any open hotels. We even tried using Airbnb but came up short. Instead, we might go and watch The Avengers in 4-D.
I’ve already seen The Avengers in 3-D with my girlfriend in Sacramento during the opening weekend. I enjoyed the movie a lot! The 4-D experience is supposed to be quite spectacular because the seats will shake and rotate. Also, the seat in front of you will spray your face with wind, water, or scents. You can actually smell and feel the explosions. I am excited.
Quick sidenote for any future Seoul-travelers: the cab drivers here are pretty horrible. If you ask to be taken to a neighborhood that’s “not worth the driver’s time,” they’ll drive off. Technically, this is illegal. However, the cops don’t enforce it. In New York City, the trick is to jump into the cab first before stating your destination because once you’re inside the cab, the drivers can’t refuse you. In Seoul, the cab drivers lock their doors. Last night, we probably hailed close to 20-30 cabs. None of them wanted to take us from Itaewon to Myeongdong. Finally, we had to wait until 6:00a and take the subway home.