Wednesday, June 6th was Memorial Day in Korea and school was out to honor those who died during the Korean War. Even though it landed in the middle of the week and we couldn't take advantage of a long weekend, we spent the whole day in Chinatown located about 30 minutes away (via bus + subway).
We stepped out of the subway station and immediately saw a large entrance at the bottom of a hill and the beginning of Chinatown-ro. It was impossible to miss. We started our way up the hill stopping fairly often to explore the different shops and businesses. Of course we started in a Gotcha Shop where I won the cutest little doggy with a beer. These toys are absolutely pointless, but they are quite fun to collect haha! We also found a sock store! Socks are all the rage in Korea and almost anywhere you go, you can find the cutest, funniest, most random socks for ₩1,000 or less. We got a plethora of socks, and I bought a cute sun hat as well. So fun!
While in Chinatown, we walked through the Jjajangmyeon Museum. Jjajangmyeon is a Korean-Chinese noodle dish with a thick black sauce on top of it. It's not spicy at all, but more sweet and savory. Pretty simple, yet delicious! The entrance fee to the museum was only ₩1,000 a person, and we took about 20 minutes to walk through the whole thing. It showed the history of the dish, what looked like old receipts and recipe books, and how instant ramen (and specifically instant jjajangmyeon) has changed over the last few decades. Very few words in the museum were in English so we took our best guess as to what each thing was, which turned out to be kind of a fun game!
We continued to walk through Chinatown as the day passed, and there was so much to look at and try that we weren't sure what to do next. We passed the most curious snack so of course had to try it... strawberries on a stick, coated with some form of a sugary iced glaze (and a tomato)! What?!?! The strawberries were delicious but Luke got stuck with the tomato - not sure it was his favorite haha.
Afterwards, we went to a nearby restaurant for linner. We split the jjajangmyeon dish and a seafood fried rice with the jjajangmyeon sauce on the side. They were delicious and we were stuffed!
In order to digest, we walked around a bit more. Up a big staircase next to the restaurant we ate at, where there was a huge Chinese gate. Luke took a sweet hyperlapse and we continued through the gate into Jayu Park. There was a pavilion with some stairs that gave us a nice view of the city. We also found the Korea-USA Centennial Monument which, built in 1982, honored our relationship with each other which had lasted 100 years from 1882 when a peace treaty began.
As we walked through the park over the course of the next hour, we discovered a rose garden just before sunset. We weren't anywhere with a good view of the sunset, but the lighting for the flowers was pretty cool. We took tons of pictures as we walked through the garden. I shot as I normally do, just snapping and walking. And while Luke got in one more hyperlapse for the day, he also managed to make me feel like the most awkward model ever as I "pretended to smell some flowers" haha! Check out his latest hyperlapse video of Chinatown!
On our way back, the sun was down and the lights began turning on so it was neat to see everything we just saw, but at night! We walked through Noodle Road AND Noodle Street (Luke's heaven) and were finally all digested. So of course food was once again on our minds. We had seen these "soup dumplings" that our Korean coworker was telling us about and decided to stop and try them before heading home. They are huge dumplings filled with soup that you have to bite into (very carefully)! We each got one pork soup dumpling and one shrimp soup dumpling and they were soooo good! Complete with a good ole bottle of Cass.
We headed back home around 9 PM after having a relaxing, but eventful day in Chinatown. I loved that area and we didn't even get to see everything! But we get visitors in less than two weeks, so perhaps we can check it out a second time and see some things we missed. If not, we'll surely see some new cool and exciting things. Stay tuned!