The Culture Vulture, Part 2

So it’s Sunday now (March 26) and i am in another Starbucks in Seoul. This one is in Myeong-dong, another fashionable area, albeit one I ended up at completely accidentally.

I got on the 705 bus near my apartment after seeing “광화문” on the bus route.

That says “Gwanghwamun,” and it’s an area I am somewhat familiar with, though it’s been 15 years or so since I spent any amount of time there.

Anyways, somehow I missed hearing the stop for Gwanghwamun on the bus — I was half-asleep for most of the ride — and when I realized we had gone past there a couple of stops, I decided to get off the bus.

Almost immediately I saw a Starbucks. Then I saw another one, and another one. Often, there would be one on one side of the street, and another across the street.

I walked a little and ended up in Gwanghwamun, and I was really hungry so I looked around for some food, specifically somewhere I could go in and eat by myself without feeling too weird about it. Lots of Korean restaurants feature at-the-table grilling, and those places generally only let you eat there if you’re in a group of 2 or more… or maybe it’s not so much that they “let you” as it is just not much fun to eat at one of those places alone. Not saying I’m above it, not saying I’ll never do it, I just wanted something quick.

After I passed at least a couple more Starbucks (and assorted other chain coffee places) I saw a Kimbap Cheonguk, which is perfect for eating solo… but it was closed.

About this time I realized that I was on a street near Gwanghwamun that I wandered to last time I came here briefly a few weeks ago, so I kept walking.

I walked through the main intersection in Gwanghwamun, passed a couple more Starbucks, saw a few other foreigners on the sidewalk, feeling more and more hungry, and I saw a bookstore that sells stickers, so I went in.

The kids that I teach love stickers, and specifically Pokemon stickers. But I haven’t been able to find any of those yet, so I went in, and… no dice.

Went back out and walked for a minute and saw another Kimbap Cheongook across the street from me, but there was no crosswalk to get there. So I went down into the subway entrance to try and come up on the side is was on, and I ended up on the wrong side.

So I went back through and ended up on another side of the intersection I didn’t try to get to, and couldn’t find the place. So I kep walking, and next thing I know I am in Myeong-dong.

There’s lots of street food vendors there, and I got some fried chicken gizzards with hot sauce. They were very tasty, but not very filling. And when I was done, I was left holding a paper bowl and a wooden stick, with no trash can in sight.

Then, lo and behold, if you can believe it ladies and gentlemen, I saw another Starbucks, about the 8th one I have seen since getting off the bus.

I got a $6-7 cold chicken sandwich that tasted like shit, and a blonde vanilla double shot latte that’s pretty good. I scarfed the shitty overpriced sandwich, wiped my fingers off with the provided wetnap, then whipped out my Chromebook and started typing this.

Gonna go wander around Myeong-dong a bit more and hopefully take the bus home. I’ve seen a couple more 705 stops since I got off of it, so hopefully I’ll find another one.

I love riding the subway, don’t get me wrong, but riding a bus (obviously) you can look out the window and see the areas you’re going through.

And the area between here and my apartment is (in my opinion) among the most aesthetically pleasing areas in Seoul, and among the most aesthetically pleasing areas I have ever personally been to.

There’s lots of trees, and they’re just starting to bud out for spring. Gonna be hell on my allergies, but it’s pretty to look at.

And there’s mountains in the background. The straight lines of ultra-modern apartment buildings set against the backdrop of mountains is something I could sit and stare at for hours, especially on a clear day like today.

And I may do that until the sun goes down, if I am back in my neighborhood by then. No sense in going home yet, my bedclothes are hung up in my apartment drying with the window open, and it’s cold in there. Plus there’s no room, small apartment that it is, with a comforter, mattress pad, and fitted sheet hanging up.

Gonna get out of here, more people coming in with fresh coffee need to sit down.

Man, I love Korea. 🙂

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