While my friends and family were enjoying mild weather in Philadelphia, it was still quite chilly here in Seoul. The cold didn’t deter us though, and my new friends and I decided to go to the Han River and cycle around the surrounding area. As soon as we got off the subway, we found street venders selling some treats. There is always a wide variety of food sold on the streets, including bugs!
Maybe I will have enough courage later to come back and try the bugs.
We went to a nearby park and each rented a bike for 3,000 Won per hour, which is equivalent to about $2.60. Along the way, there were also a few bikes that you can just rent by yourself using T-money. The park we went to was very nice and had two separate pathways for bikers and walkers. The ground for the walkers’ side can best be described as really comfortable and “squishy” to walk on.
Along the Han River is a beautiful view of the water, and cycling was a quick and fun way to see a part of Seoul. There were many bike pathways and the serious cyclers were equipped with helmets, gloves, book bags, and sunglasses as they sped around us. One of the detours led us right to the World Cup Stadium, and we plan to attend a soccer game another day.
After about 2.5 hours of cycling, we returned the bikes and took the subway to a fish market. Even before we enter the market, we could smell the fishy stench. On the main floor, the ground was soaked with water while the sellers squish around in rain boots. The fish market is open 24 hours and has daily live auctions at 1am. There is a vast array of seafood and sellers, including stingrays, octopus, shrimp, clams, and all kinds of fish and seafood in general. About half of the creatures are still alive swimming in their tanks. You can just pick a fish and then the seller will scoop it out and smash its head with a pick, killing it. Then, they fillet it in front of you. You can then go upstairs and choose a restaurant to cook the fish for you. Since there are so many restaurants, you always find little ladies running out of their shop to try and sway you to come into their place instead of the one down the hall. My friends and I bought a platter of sashimi and chose one of the traditional restaurants to cook it hotpot style. It was tasty, but in the end, it was overpriced and expensive. I think it was because they clearly knew we were foreigners and did not know Korean.
I also went to Itaewon, the international center of Seoul, and when I arrived, it was as if I was back in America. You can see all different nationalities, and it even seemed like there were more foreigners than Koreans. There is also a wide range of restaurants in Itaewon, and if you are craving another nation’s food, you can probably find it here. We chose to stop in a Turkish restaurant for dinner. Although it was good, the prices in Itaewon were quite expensive compared to Korean food elsewhere. Also, Itaewon is the place to find bigger size clothes and shoes for foreigners.
Most useful phrase of the week: 좀 깎아주세요. (Jom ggak-a-ju-se-yo) = Give me a discount, please.