Yesterday was a travel day from Taipei to Seoul. Some drama on the flight when my water bottle leaked in the overhead baggage compartment and freaked out the passengers in the row behind us. Many apologies later all was good. I’m not having much luck with liquids on planes lately so no more. Actually that was our last scheduled flight so we’ll see how it goes on trains, ferries, and buses…
When we arrived yesterday Seoul was cold (around 40 degrees) with super dense fog so we prepared for nasty weather. We rode the shuttle from the airport to the Dragon Hill Lodge (our fourth and final armed forces lodging on this trip) located on an Army installation in Yongsan district. The lodge is pretty cool and our room is great so we’re happy spending a couple of days here. Our strategy of easing into a new country by staying at an American facility seems to be working pretty well for us.
Today we woke up to blue skies and a much nicer day (high temp of 62). We wandered around Namdaemun market in the morning and had lunch at a small ‘restaurant’ on food alley – kimchi fried rice with egg and kimchi bibimbap for about $12. It was good with rather subtle flavors though the kimchi side dishes were powerful.
We walked around the market a bit more afterwards and stopped for a couple of ‘snacks’ along the way. First was a fried dough bun that looked good and had a pretty good sized waiting line. We got in line with about 20 people ahead of us. The stand had one guy stuffing the buns, one frying them, and a woman taking money and serving. When you got to the head of the line, the money lady made you wait about 3 steps away until she motioned you to approach. just like the Seinfeld soup nazi. You quickly and humbly walked up to her with your 1000 Won offering. She asked ‘vegetable?”. I wasn’t about to risk going to the end of the line so I said ‘yes’, not bothering to ask what the other options might be. She popped one into a slit paper cup, wrapped a paper napkin around it, ladled on some sauce and we were done. Success. I’m not sure what was inside but it had a few shreds of carrot and some black stuff along with mostly what looked like glassy worms but could have been rice noodles. It was steaming hot and the first couple of bites were really good with a crunchy crust and moist interior. But after 3 or 4 bites the initial taste novelty wore off and the fryer oil dominated. So what did we do? We headed to another snack stand where we picked up some deep fried dough twists dusted with sugar. Yep, more fried goodness. The twists were also crunchy fried on the outside and soft and moist inside – good stuff.
After that we checked out a department store there that was a collection of individual tiny specialized shops inside a very crowded building. The food market in the basement was especially busy with folks jostling for position like the start of an auto race. We got claustrophobic and headed up and out for air. We had a nice walk on the Seoullo walkway over to Seoul Station so we could take a look at our next neighborhood. It looks great with a Lotte supermarket right there. We’ll be picking up supplies there for our Airbnb stay and upcoming ferry and trans Siberian trips since we don’t know what to expect on either.