My first day in Seoul

Pulling into the driveway of the hotel, I felt like a celebrity in the limo like taxi. But I was jolted into remembering that I was here for work when I was handed the receipt!

Getting into Seoul, one word that kept popping up was . . . . Traffic. Unless you live in Canberra, the capital city of Australia, where a snail could make it across the road without getting turned into a mashed escargot, there are lots and lots of cars here.

On a five lane highway from the airport, every lane was full. We even slowed to a crawl a few times getting into Seoul and it is the weekend! I hate to think what peak hour is like.

Stepping out of the hotel after checking in, it was good to stretch the legs. Located almost at the foot of Seoul Tower there were lots to see. So, I was going to just take a walk. I did ask for the city map when I was checking in. For me, they come in handy when I am bewilderingly lost. It also helps when you are asking a local as lots of pointing will undoubtedly occur when language is a barrier.

Sungnyemun Gate, the first landmark I learnt which I ended up passing everyday whenever I went.

After surveying the map, I decided to walk to Nandaemun Market, one of the oldest markets in Seoul, which sells not only fresh produce and local street food but also a chicanery of this and that. I thought I knew where it was (from the map) but then I was not so sure anymore after seeing no obvious signs.

Luckily a young Korean guy (who spoke a teeny bit of English) was headed the same way and suggested I just walk with him!  We chatted a bit and his strong advice to me was to pass on the street food in Nandaemun Market. Pointing to his stomach with a look of grimace on his face, I could work out what he meant.

But seriously, how can anyone resist trying these tasty looking street morsels

Less than ten minutes later, he stopped and pointed to an area across the road which had different streets with colourful little flags strung overhead.

That is Nandaemun market, he said, an area made up of open air street stalls lining the centre of the street. We had barely walked a hundred metres down the road.

It was past five in the afternoon and some of the shops were already closed. But there were plenty still going. They look more than happy to sell you something which I likely do not need.

Tweety Bird iPhone case? Iron Man socks?

I just meandered past trying not to look too interested. Eventually I realised that what I really wanted to see, the fresh produce section, was already closed. None of the rest was really interesting. And since my new Korean friend suggested against going for any of the foods, that was the end of my brief walkabout. My first day in Seoul.

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