Saturday, January 30, 2016

Seoul 2015 - 9/16

Welcome back to my mini series about Seoul. Today's post is about what we did on Tuesday July 28th and once again it's one of my more picture heavy posts so lean back, relax, and enjoy!


Our day started when we went to Jung's Sandwich for some late breakfast. It was a small and cozy place located really close to our hostel. The exact address is:
36 Samil-daero 30-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul (right in front of Hotel ibis Ambassador Seoul Insadong).
서울 종로구 삼일대로30길 36 (정쓰 샌드위치)
The sandwiches were handmade (duuh) so it took a little while for the one man working there to finish them. When they were done, we went back to the hostel and sat down in the common room to eat and I tell you it was totally worth the wait.
Forgive me if I'm wrong but I think I ordered the Club sandwich without tomatoes. Between the soft bread with a crunchy top layer was mayonnaise, a hash brown, cheese, egg, ham, fresh salad, and dressing. Yes, you may star being envious now.

Our main goal for today was to visit the COEX Aquarium (코엑스 아쿠아리움). One of Philip's friends from Sweden, Anna Plüff as I now know her as, had come to Korea the night before with her parents. Since she didn't have anyone to hang out with, we picked her up before heading to Gangnam (강남). Today was another one of those days where you basically felt soaked the moment you stepped outside and of course we ended up getting off the subway one stop too early, resulting in us having to walk a way longer distance than what should be expected of a Nord in the summer. We actually did a couple of stops where we went into local stores just to cool down for a moment before going back out.

The COEX Aquarium is located inside the COEX mall in Gangnam (강남) and it's the largest marine theme park in Korea with its 40000 sea creatures divided into 14 differently themed zones for you to explore. You find it on the basement floor of this address:
513, Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul.
서울특별시 강남구 영동대로 513 (삼성동)

As we went down to the basement floor, we passed a wishing wall.

There were wishes in mostly Korean but also English, Chinese, Japanese, French, English, and a few other languages. Cindy, Camilla, and I wished as well because what's there to lose? ^^


Okay! Enough distraction! We found the entrance!
There was an entrance fee but Anna didn't have enough cash to pay for it. Both Philip and I offered to pay for her but we ended up splitting up instead and agree to meet up when we were done. Alex, Cindy, Camilla, and I went into the aquarium while Philip, John, and Anna looked around the mall - the guys hadn't been too interested in seeing the aquarium anyways.

On the other side of the entrance there are lockers to store your items in if you don't want to carry them around. It does cost something but I think it was like 500₩ so it really isn't bad and there is space enough for you to share.

Also, don't forget the map hanging near the entrance showing you all the zones that you will be going through on your journey.

To be honest, it wasn't specifically to my interest to see the aquarium either and for the first ten minutes I wished I had gone with the others. Fish was never really interesting to me as I grew up in a maritime city and have been to the same local aquarium I don't know how many times now.

However, as those ten minutes passed, the quirky little arrangements and the Konglish explanations started to grow on me. There were little folders provided with questions about the fish that you could answer as you made your way through the different zones - Camilla was very interested in these.

In the midst of everything: squirrels!
This room showed especially Korean fish.

In the left side of the room is a big tank that contains all the fish found in the Han River! It was probably written somewhere but I had this told to me by a man working there  (probably one of the higher ups) who saw me strolling around aimlessly, waiting for the others (okay, these fish weren't huge, funny, or overly colorful so my interest had dropped a bit again at this point).

When the others caught up and we were about to turn the corner and walk past a closed off area, the man asked if we'd like to go 'behind the scenes', which we of course accepted. I apologize for the graininess of my pictures as the room was dimly lit and we all know how my camera handles camera of that time handled darkness.

We were the only ones who were being let in there so we felt quite special. As you can see on the drawings above, they were going to refurnish the room to look like a traditional Korean place. He took his time to, in detail, explain how everything was going to look, where they would add water, and what kind of fish would be put in there.
On one of the walls were 4 frames. These were going to surround pictures of Korean plants from the four different seasons. The man explain the superstitious beliefs about the reasoning for these plants being so important as he drew parallels back to ancient times. I thought it was really interesting although I have forgotten the stories now ㅠㅠ
When the man had finished showing us around, he asked where we were from and how long we'd be in Korea. He also told us about his daughter studying in Australia, like any proud father would. No formalities there~

And thus our adventures continued!
At this point we had come to the 'Fish in Wonderland' zone. This is one of the zones that I remember the most as it was filled with strangely shaped aquariums and more abnormal fish... like the "Bubble eye gold fish" (수포안) below!
Okay okay. One of the first unusual tanks we saw was this harp-shaped one.
Everytime the fish swam by one of the strings, the tank would play sweet, light tones. Cool, huh?
Sadly this was the only unusual tank that I took pictures of as I as probably busy exploring the others. There were tanks shaped like a fridge, a washing machine, a toilet, a doll house, and almost whatever other furniture that you can think of!
Near the harp tank were what were probably the happiest fish I have ever seen in my life.
And suddenly: bunnies!
and guinea pigs!
There was also a tank with doctor fish that were especially fond of my hands.
It was the first time I had tried that kind of treatment and it tickled so much.
And now, bats!
Now we had entered the Amazona World~
It was too dark in there for me to take that many pictures so I just gave up.
At some point we got to a room where you could lie down on a round piece of furniture and look up to see fish swimming above you. You can see the tank reflected above our heads.
Yaay selcas~
Okay, so while Cindy and Camilla took these pictures...
Alex and I laid down again and suddenly a little Korean girl around the age of 5 or so jumps up on the furniture and leans over me as to look at my face. I said: "안녕" ('annyeong' - a greeting in Korean) and she look super surprised! After that, every time we passed by each other, she would run past me and wave, saying ‘annyeong’ and even ‘hello’ once. Now I had a fan for those 2 remaining hours we spent there.

Moving on to the marine touch lab! Unlike the other places where you'd meet signs like this:
we were actually allowed to touch the fish in here. We didn't stay in here long though because... idk I don't like the idea of touching fish.
I quickly moved on to the Living Reef Gallery.
What a sight to behold!
These fish looked like they were made of tinfoil! Oh, and don't let the picture deceive you - this fish was at least the size of my face.
The others caught up around the Ocean Kingdom, which was where they had the big sharks on display.
More random wings to pose in front of! I still haven't found out what's with Koreans an angel wings and a quick Google search gave me nothing but information on how Koreans love to eat chicken wings.
My picture was nowhere near as dramatic and fabulous as the others' so let's just skip that (⌒⌒*;)
Time for the Deep Blue Sea tunnel!
The part of the floor to the right is actually moving walkway that, very slowly, will bring you through the tunnel.
We acted like true tourists in here~
The garden of jellyfish was a really pretty place but again.. my phone and the dark are not good friends.
Look at these HUGE crabs!
They had penguins in there as well~ This was the last zone before you exited the aquarium part and came to the gift shop.
Camilla and Cindy wanted to spend some more time in the gift shop while Alex and I went back up to the entrance of the COEX mall to get signal and contact the others. Apparently they had been out exploring and gotten lost as they’d taken a bus and hopped off at the wrong stop. Somehow they’d made their way to CUBE entertainment and gotten to see the place and also seen the SM TOWN building. Aaaah so envious ㅠ෴ㅠ
As we stood there waiting for the girls, a group of Chinese women came in (we were standing really close to the entrance). One of them saw me, pointed at me, and said something. I didn't understand but Alex quickly leaned in and told me that apparently she'd said that I had great skin. Woooah. Thank you! ( ̄ヮ ̄) 
Having grown tired of waiting, Alex went down to Cindy and Camilla while I stayed near the entrance in case Philip, John, and Anna should return. I took a selca with the wall sticker and sent home to my mom. She actually believed that it was a real person but didn't know who he was so the starstruck effect wasn't as great as I'd expected. I send the same picture to Maria and Jasmin but they weren't as easily fooled.

We messaged the others again but they had gotten on the wrong bus and it'd still be a while before they could be there. The three of us were getting hungry though so we found a restaurant nearby, named 덕바위집 (duck rock house), that we would meet up at.
I couldn't find a precise address but if you put this into Google maps, it'll pinpoint the building for you.
480 Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul.
서울, 강남구, 봉은사로 480
Do you see the woman in the door? The floor to her left was raised and as you stepped up you were supposed to take off your shoes. Except for a long table in the back of the room with what we think was sort of a company party (with some of them often looking in our direction), we were the only costumers at that time. The people working there were all ajeossis (아저씨) and ajummas (아줌마). It was a cozy place.
Chairs? Forget about those! For many years, Koreans have been sitting on cushions while dining and there are still many places like that in Korea.
We ordered samgyeobsal (삼겹살) - or well, the others did. I had a stomach ache and didn't feel like eating. When the meat came, one of the ajummas (아줌마) came over and cooked the meat for us. We'd learned our lesson about not interrupting so we just let her and I swear.. these ajummas took so good care of us! When the meat began to sizzle, she brought us all aprons so we wouldn't get our clothes dirty or burn ourselves. Like at the other restaurant near our hostel, she showed us how to arrange the meat on lettuce and mint leaves and didn't leave our table before she'd made sure that we all knew how to do it probably. The flock of ajummas realized that I wasn't eating like the others and one of them came over to ask why not - in Korean, naturally. With the help of Camilla our group told her that my stomach hurt. She shot me an apologetic look as she sighed and then went back to kitchen. Soon after she came back with a bowl of purple rice and a spicy soup with tofu and vegetables in. She said something, in Korean, once again and Camilla understood it as something along the lines of: "this will help if you are sick / your stomach hurts". I honestly didn't feel like eating but now that she'd gone through so much trouble to make this for me I had to.
Amazingly enough it actually worked and I also managed to eat some of the delicious meat. The ajumma would return to our table once in a while and prepare the food for us so that all we had to do was open our mouths and chew it. Every time we emptied a bowl or plate of something they'd come back with more and stock up on the meat as well. We were about full when John, Philip, and Anna finally showed up and finished eating short after. Cindy, Camilla, and Alex, now so very very full, wanted to go back to the hostel. I stayed and waited for the others to finish.
As we paid the bill (I was charged 1000₩ for my food), the ajumma asked if my stomach had stopped hurting (Thank you for translating, John!) to which I could happily reply no and thank her for taking so good care of me. John had a small chat with one of them before we left. On our way to the subway I asked what the ajumma had said to him. "She said that I had eaten well (a lot) and offered me coffee" he replied. There's seriously something about young people eating a lot that pleases older Koreans.

We accompanied Anna in the subway until she got to the station near the hotel she and her parents were staying in and then we went back home to the hostel.

You can find what we did today from the beginning of the video to 3:39 in Cindy's video below~
OhmygodCindywhydidyouhavetomakemyfacethefirstpartofthevideo (҂*´□`)



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