Seoul

Seoul, it turns out, is not a tourist town…or not a tourist destination I should say…at least off season. The airport (Incheon for me but the 2 are somewhat equidistant) is a million miles from Seoul proper. The city itself is giant, with maybe the largest (and really most confusing) subway system I have ever encountered. There are no cool sights or even cool giant pedestrian or retail areas. I think I came here because I like the women…something about Korean women for me, and I’m not really into Asians necessarily.

The food is exactly as you’d suspect, with maybe more use of eggs than I have seen in Korean food in the US. I found most things to be pretty cheap (I had lunch for 70 cents one day). The cab system was cheap, abundant, and extremely precise…which was very refreshing. Most people do not speak English and apparently there is zero relationship between the 2 languages cause they didn’t understand shit. I also got the impression that they really don’t see very many white tourists. While I was walking around not only was I the only Caucasian, but everyone stared a little bit too.

Itaewan is their main tourist retail drag or area. It wasn’t much. Some shopping, some restaurant and bar action. Parallel to this main road on the train station side is their red light district (Hooker Hill they call it). This area is filled with store fronts that don’t have windows. As you walk by girls will come out and try to pull you in (on nice nights everyone is outside doing the same thing). Some of these places have little bars and rooms in the back where the girls try to take you, and some of these places just have little bars. Interestingly enough, many of these places have “hostesses” that want you to buy them drinks, and that’s it. Refreshing to not be hassled for more “stuff”, and saddened that people pay for the company of a beautiful girl like that (and yes, I was one of the sad ones, but it was nice and interesting chatting in this fashion).

I should mention that Seoul also has a number of areas that are like Amsterdam’s red light district. I’ve never seen this particular type of shit before, as every room is set up like a department store display window and the girls sit inside on barbers chairs, it really does look like a barbershop, but with giant windows, and they are packed together (not like Amsterdam and other places where there’s some elbow room, maybe a bit like Villa Tinto). These girls wave you in from behind the glass and then take you to little rooms right behind their “store”. Not sure about the exact deal, but just walking around these areas is very entertaining.

They do have one of the coolest fish markets I have ever seen (they are almost always amazing in Asia), but this is more like the commercial storehouses of Japan. You can buy fresh (and crazy) stuff from a million different places and have it cooked right there at these little stalls. The market itself is littered with everything you can imagine, and many things that you cannot. Aquariums with squirming fish and piles of iced catches seemingly never end. It’s glorious.

I did happen to go back and I must add how cool Myeong Dong Main street and the surrounding areas are! South of that main street (but on both sides really) was like an awesome and never ending maze. Simply awesome street food that is really thought out, not just the standard crap you get most everywhere. I mean they have that too, but if you look around you will see and eat some really well made stuff.

On the weekends they also do a ton of outdoor markets throughout the city. New York is similar, very cool.

Notes to self:

-I liked Seoul but I don’t really see any reason to go back…but I did didn’t I.


Hotels

Westin Chosun (Oct. 2015)

Conrad (Nov. 2013)