Seoul was the first mega city I have visited. 24 million people in the metro area; it's larger than New York City. But the landscape was different: South Korea is mountainous and behind the skyscrapers were rolling, rocky foothills. Seoul was a stark contrast to the relaxed, joyful atmosphere of Phuket. Everyone moved so quickly here. People dressed more formally and conservatively. We took buses and trains to navigate the city and walked extensively. The cars drove so fast, and a little dangerously. The city blended modern technology and rich tradition, and our time here introduced us to both.
(Also coffee shops. Everywhere. Every single block, every office building, every store or market.)
Dongdaenum Fashion District and Gwangjang Market
The walk from Dongdaenum to Gwangjang is along a river and textile stores. We window shopped at the malls in Dongdaenum and had dinner at a stall in Gwangjang. Gwangjang is a food market, filled with vendors making traditional food. You could sit in front of their stoves and eat as they cooked, or step inside to a small seating area behind each stall.
De Militarised Zone
This was a unique day. We took a bus to the north border between South and North Korea (45 minutes from Seoul). We were able to stand at the Dora Observatory and look across into North Korea, walk the entire Third Infiltration Tunnel, and visit Dorasan Station, a train station that has never been used but will one day allow people to travel between North and South Korea.
This was my favourite market (Seoul has a ton to choose from, each one for specific things). Myeodong was a district with stores lining each block, and at night vendors come with food and trinkets to sell on the walkways between the storefronts. South Korea is famous for their makeup, and this district had multiple Korean store brands. Each brand had a storefront on multiple blocks of the district.
Seoul Station, Pedestrian Bridge, Namdaenum Market
We visited the Holt International offices to meet with the caseworker for my mum's adoption file. She was adopted through Holt when she was a baby. After meeting at the office, we took a train to Seoul Station. The train station felt more like an airport - huge, bustling, and with it's own mall attached. We wandered across a large pedestrian bridge outside and ended up in Namdaenum Market. This market housed more traditional items as well as food.
N. Seoul Tower
The observatory allows you to see the entire city of Seoul. You take a cable car to the base of the tower, wander up a few flights of stairs, and then an elevator to the top of the tower. There were restaurants and shops at the base and the top, and views from the base of the tower as well.
History in the middle of the metropolitan area. This gorgeous palace is in the middle of downtown Seoul.
Bukchon Hanok Village
This is a neighbourhood lined with traditional houses, tea rooms, and stores.