Saturday, September 16, 2006

Notes from Korea – 3

Today we went on a cruise of the Han River (the major river in Seoul). The theme of the tour was “pirates,” and they entertained the kids with a magic show. The cruise was an enjoyable way to see the city from a little different perspective. This building is the National Assembly - meeting place of the people's elected representatives.

Then in the evening I went to Dongdaemun, one of the well-known shopping districts in Seoul. “Shopping district” is putting it mildly, really – think of it as one huge bazaar. You could never have anything like this in the States due to zoning laws. In Dongdaemun you can walk up and down main streets and alleyways and find countless booths/tents selling all kinds of things, from shoes to socks, backpacks to bedspreads, blue jeans to traditional Korean costumes – not to mention the multitudes of food tents here and there selling every kind of Korean food imaginable. Some booths are literally a hole in the wall, while others are tents set up on the sidewalks and even in the middle of the street. I found it fascinating, because it is so different from what we are used to in the hyper-regulated, hyper-zoned U.S.

Restaurant Alley. You can find all sorts of Korean food here, and if you have crab, you know it's fresh - you can see it swimming in the tank outside the eating establishment.

Guess where these booths are? They're in the underground crosswalk - every which way you turn, there is a booth with someone peddling something or another. If you want it, someone's sure to have it available.

Hungry? No problem - there are plenty of food tents to satisfy your cravings.

In this district there is also the river Cheonggyecheon, a river that had been that had been covered up but is now restored, with walkways along the banks and colored fountains to watch. It is a nice contrast to the hustle and bustle of Seoul city life.

Seoul's own "riverwalk." It's little more than a stream, so of course there are no boat tours here.

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