Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Korea: Seoul (Shopping Haven)

I was in Seoul, Korea about 2 years ago right after our trip to Washington and New York. I have been to Seoul a couple of years earlier on a company trip but I can not honestly say that I like Seoul during my visit then. I can not recollect any places that I could fondly remember.

So, when I was given an opportunity for a revisit, I gladly took it and I was looking forward to explore the part of Seoul that I miss, the part that speaks to me, the part that excites me, the part that will make me want to go back for more.....

And I must said that I fell in love with Korea in general from this trip.

Even before we touched down, my wife has been talking non stop about the shopping that can be done, the 24 hours shopping centers, the boutiques, the clothes and the stuff that she can buy. Now, I am definitely not a shopping freak. Maybe it is a guy thing. I am the type that walks straight to the shop that I want to buy from, directly to the specific rack, pick up the item, pay for it and leave. So, you must understand why I was not really that excited about all the walking, browsing and haggling over prices and oh GOD, the waiting .....hahahahaha

But, it is true that Korea is truly a shopping haven. There are just so much to see and savor. I can not say that the prices of all the items are cheap but there are still pretty good buys and bargains if you know where to find and having the patience to look for them.

Several well known shopping spots in Seoul include, the famous Myeong-dong, Dongdaemun, Namdaemun and Itae'won to name a few.

The first shopping spot we drop by was Dongdaemun. We were impressed with the huge shopping centers here. The one particularly famous is the Migliore. However, we did not really find anything interesting here. They were rather common and the prices were not exactly cheap. Moreover, the place was really crowded.

Not satisfied with the shopping experience from Dongdaemun and not having bought anything or spent any money, my wife insisted that we must visit another shopping spot. I was not exactly sure which is which or which is better but I remembered a very interesting shopping attraction that I went to during my first visit there. After some inquiries at the hotel, we decided to try out Myeong-dong, and hopefully, the place that we were looking for. And, we were right and not disappointed, or at least my wife was not ....hehehehe
I would say Myeong-dong is definitely a much more interesting place to shop, even for a guy who dislike shopping like me. Unlike a huge shopping complex, Myeong-dong is a place where there are rows and rows of small little shops selling all sorts of stuff. The variety is simply amazing, the clothes were nice and the prices were more reasonable. Besides boutiques, there were also plenty of little cute cafes, pubs and restaurants, always ready to welcome and refresh a tired, weary, thirsty and hungry shopper.
Have I mentioned the street peddlers as well? Oh yes, there are also these street peddlers that sells a whole variety of items, from ties to souvenirs and lots and lots of local street food, which by the way, are extremely delicious.
Another thing I noticed as I went around shopping in Seoul was that I did not seemed to find ANY slimming centers offering slimming packages. Of course, when I stopped for a second and started observing the streams of Korean girls that walked past, I began to understand why. I can hardly find ONE FAT or PLUMP Korean girl. Maybe it is because of their diet and the food or kim chi that they eat on a daily basis.

However, the same cannot be said about beauty saloons or cosmetic shops. You can find them at every turn and cosmetic and beauty here in Seoul IS BIG BUSINESS! And again, if you stop to admire the Korean girls (like I did, with my wife's knowledge of course), you will find NONE that is not without some form of make-up.
Cosmetic business and industry is so competitive that as you walked along the streets at Myeong-dong, you will find many pretty, and I mean pretty cosmetic promoters and ambassadors marketing their products with headphones and speakers, enticing the many potential shoppers with free gifts and discounts if they only would just walk into their shops.

I left Myeong-dong impressed while my wife left Myeong-dong with two hands full of bags and definitely a very happy woman. Would we come back? Dare I NOT? Hahahaha.....

Next, the beauty of Seoul's mother nature!

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