Heading to Myeong-dong yesterday — a cold, cloudy day — was just right. We knew it was a popular area for shopping since you can find many major international brands there (Zara, H&M, etc.). People love their shopping here! And we’re not even past Thanksgiving yet. But I digress. There’s a main street, if you will, and it was packed with shoppers, tourists, and … street food vendors. YES! We warmed up at Hadongkwan restaurant with some gomtang, a traditional, rich beef soup with rice in it, which was served very simply with salt, pepper, green onions and kimchi, of course. Not bad. That triggered my sweet tooth, so I tracked down where all the people were getting their tall ice cream cones from, and we also indulged. My vote for best bang for your buck! Then we ventured into the Noon Square mall, eight levels of shopping with a food court and rooftop garden. Oh my gosh I forgot the cat cafe! You’ll just have to see the pics below. All in all, nice shopping area, plenty of restaurants, more variety of street food than I’ve seen in other areas, and there are also two movie theaters there. We both agreed we’d be back. It’s cleaner and less sketchy-feeling than other parts of town.
Today I continued my visits to the local royal palaces. Technically, today I visited a royal shrine. The Jongmyo Shrine, one of Seoul’s two UNESCO World Heritage sites. You can only enter with a guided tour, and they give the tours in multiple languages throughout the day, including English. This place is serene and beautiful. Its structures are painted much more simply (less colorful) than those of the royal palaces, but that’s intentional, designed to harmonize with the surrounding nature and reflect Korean Confucianism. Jongmyo Shrine houses the memorial tablets of 19 kings and 30 queens of the Joseon era (1392-1910). Our tour guide told us all about the memorial ceremony that takes place only twice a year to honor the deceased’s spirits, which they believe are encapsulated in the tablets. A happy celebration featuring plenty of food, wine, music and dancing. I really enjoyed the tour.
Coming up: The souvenir land that is Insa-dong, my first bibimbap, and the traditional Korean homes of the Bukchon Hanok Village in Samcheong-dong.