Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sights of Seoul Days 4 and 5

Our final morning at IS@K Guesthouse in Itaewon dawned just as hot and miserable as the last few days.  That, combined with the soreness in our feet from walking for so long in the same shoes for three days caused us to make it a very lazy morning.

That is, except for my run down to Paris Baguette to pick up breakfast and get cash out of the ATM to pay for our room since he adds a 10% service charge if you pay credit....

On the way to Paris Baguette I got stopped by some people doing a survey of female razor handles.  It took about five minutes and I walked away with two free disposable razor, which was perfect for my plans for that evening.

When I got back I paid and then Elli and I ate before relaxing as we waited for MY to arrive.

He got there a little after 1100, but since check out wasn't until 1400 and our only plan for the daytime was to go to Seoul Tower we decided to just chill in our room and play cards for an hour or two.

When we finally left the guesthouse we went to the center of Itaewon and caught one of the three buses that goes up to Seoul Tower.  Last time MY and I hiked up to it, but the weather was much nicer then and we weren't carrying a backpack full of clothes...

Also, last time MY and I just wandered around the base of the tower, this time we went up into it.

We also did the teddy bear museum.
We still had a serious hill to climb from the bus stop to the tower.
These crazy people brought their suitcase with  them... He pushed it and she just took pictures.  The couple on the left.
Seoul Tower
Elli with....something...Kero-chan maybe?
People need to learn to read or look at pictures...
That's Itaewon down there.
Our tickets!
MY with Hanbook Bear.
I didn't know bears could grow beards...
A beary marketplace.
Me with my new friends!
Emperor Bear!
Okay, I tried to take a picture with Elli, but she kept making weird this is the best you get of the three of us...Sorry for the sort of weird was very bright and hot and muggy...
We didn't take any pictures up in the tower because of the glass and the smog, it just wasn't worth it.

After coming back down we all decided it was about time for lunch so we caught the next bus off the mountain, which happened to take us down to Myeongdong (where Elli and I had the ice cream on Day 2).

We got food on the second floor of some building.  Just a little Korean restaurant, nothing special.

After that we walked a bit and then caught the subway to Hongdae Station.  We walked around for a LONG time trying to find a cafe with an empty table big enough for three.

We ended up finding this cafe/bar down a side street, just one street over from the Hobbit Hole Brunch Cafe from Day 3.  It's listed on the map in that post.

We were all rather grumpy with heat-addled brains by the time we found the place we did.

Luckily they were nice and empty, while still not looking creepily deserted.

Unluckily they were saving money by having fans on and windows open instead of using AC.

The drinks were good though and really cold, so that helped cool us down enough so that the temperature was pleasant, not miserable...

Yes, those coolers are full of beers.

Go Fish!  Followed by Crazy 8's!
While we were chilling there SK texted me to saw he was almost to Hongdae Station.  So we paid our bill and went to Exit 9 to wait for him.

I didn't even bother trying to spot his head of black hair in the sea of black hair surrounding Exit 9 (it's the number one meeting spot for people in Hongdae).  Instead I found  a nice step for to stand on so I'd be above the crowd and hoped he'd be able to pick out blonde among a sea of black.

Sometime's it's really useful to be in a country where your hair color is unusual, though I used to find myself disliking it, mainly because I just wanted to blend in.

I've sort of given up at that.

SK found us and there were a few awkward minutes as we walked to a Korean Barbecue place because I've never actually met SK in person before.

We've talked on Skype and we played Diablo and Diablo II together, he reads my blog, and I look at his picture blog (which is beautiful).  Though the blog part is only available if you have an account and he gives you permission.

After we got settled in at barbecue places the awkwardness left, though MY and SK found it weird to talk to each other in English.

Awesome times were had by all!
My and me!

After dinner we went to Baskin Robbins and got ice cream.

Then it was off to a PC-bang (internet cafe), where we all played Starcraft together.  We played about two games and then we all parted ways.  SK took the subway back to his family's home (he actually lives in Daejeon) and MY, Elli, and I walked down to Happy Day.

Happy Day is a 찜질방 (jjimjilbang), which is a public bath and sauna.  The bathing areas are segregated, so we went in, paid, and Elli and I went to the women's baths, while MY went to the men's baths.

We were each given a bracelet with a key and an electronic lock on it.  The key was used to unlock our foot locker by the entrance to the baths.  After wandering through a little bit of a maze we found the main area.  

During the day there's a woman that sells toiletries and snacks, but she was gone by the time we got there (around midnight).  

Elli and I found our lockers, put our stuff in, bought shampoo from the vending machine, got undressed, and wandered into the showers.

It was this giant room with a bunch of sitting showers, some standing ones, some baths, and an enclosed area where some old women in underwear will scrub you down or give you a massage.

Since it was my first visit to a jjimjilbang I didn't feel up to the scrub or massage.  Instead, Elli and I just used the sitting showers.  We were going to used the baths but some old frog faced woman decided she was going to stare at us and sneer, no matter what - which is EXTREMELY rude.

I was too tired to deal with it and stare her down so we just left without using the baths.  We put on our pink shorts and shirts - the ones all women wore in the jjimjilbang, men got orange, and we went into the sauna area to find MY.

He gave us a tour.  There were several saunas, each a different type.  There was also an ice room, workout room, arcade, and restaurant.

For sleeping there were stacks of mats and pillows in the main area for you to grab.  There was also a men's only room and a women's only room.  These were much quieter, darker, and warmer than the main area.

Elli couldn't stand the light in the main area so she went to sleep in the women's only room while MY and I settled down in the main area.

I woke up a couple times from the heat, and each time there were more people sleeping there.

When we arrived there were about 20-30 people.  By the time we left there were a couple hundred at least.

When we all woke we went to chill in the ice room, then we took showers and got out of there.

For breakfast there wasn't much open yet, so we ended up at Dunkin' Donuts.  I've eaten more there in the past year than I have in the rest of my life.

After breakfast we took the subway over to DongSeoul Bus Terminal.  We went to a PC-bang and played some more Starcraft for a bit.

Then we grabbed lunch at a Korean place.

After lunch we still had about 45 minutes until our bus to Changwon so we sat in the cafe at the terminal and ate this:
Super sweet, but yummy.  Patbingsu I believe.

While playing more cards.

We caught the 1700 bus back to Changwon.  It was hard leaving MY after being able to see him for five days straight, but having Elli with me made it easier.

We arrived in \Changwon at around 2100.  We took a bus back to my apartment and thus ended my five days of vacation in Seoul.

It was glorious.