Day 6 marked one day past the halfway point of our trip. Today we had to check out of the W Hotel and into a hostel closer to the touristy district in Seoul. Our plans for day 6 had been to go to the seafood market in Noryangjin and go watch South Korea vs. North Korea in the World Cup qualifier held in Seoul. Turns out that the Jinhae trip took a lot out of us and we decided to get a late check out of the hotel, relax and skip much of the planned itinerary.
We eventually lazed our way out of the hotel, left our luggage at the front desk and went to a local super market to see how different it was from home. It was fun walking around in Lotte Mart, smelling all of the kimchi and fresh meat! Some pictures of some of the rice cakes they sold there...Eventually we somehow accidented upon our hostel with my member-finding skills from ten years back! You see, I understand the Korean address system, and how to find an address. You go to the city, in our case Seoul, find the general area where the house you are looking for is (allegedly) located and then walk around looking for some random number on a wall or gate in a maze of old-city homes and businesses. If you've never been there, in short, it's impossible! People usually just meet you at a subway station or at a bus stop.
As I remember from the mish, my newer companions would stay pretty quiet until it was obvious that I had no idea where our member meeting was. They would quietly ask, the first time "are we lost?" then eventually it changed to, "do you know where you're going" and finally to "do you even know where we are?"
Pae and I got off of the subway, left the station and walked in the direction I thought we should go. It was a pretty long walk dragging along luggage, and eventually, even though we hadn't made any turns, we weren't walking in circles and although I wasn't 100% certain we were going in the right direction (we technically weren't lost) Pae started asking "Do you know where you're going?" "Do you know where it is?"
My answer was a confident, "I know where I THINK it is" and a somewhat defensive "I understand the Korean address system" although I didn't fully disclose to her that the answer directly translated to "I have no idea where the heck this place is, I'm hoping to bump into it eventually." The third or fourth time she asked, I stopped in an intersection, turned around and was about to give in and say "no, I'm not sure where we are"...and then like happened so many times ten years ago...out of the corner of my eye, tucked into an alley, a big yellow banana saved the day!Banana Backpackers is a pretty highly recommended hostel right in the Insadong area of Seoul. Close to all of the palaces and tourist places, a good place to set up camp for the final couple days of our trip. It had a pretty homey feeling, the only real negative was the backpacker smell at night, when all of the tenants would hop on the internet in the living room...many sticking to the backpacker credo of "no bathing".We went to look for a bbq place we found on the internet in the Hongik University area. This area is pretty much located between three universities and is chock full of cafes, restaurants, shopping, people and food, food, food! We couldn't find our restaurant and couldn't find Patbingsu, a shave ice type Korean, dessert as it was still too cold outside for the summertime treat. But it wasn't a total loss as we enjoyed the atmosphere of all of the young kids gathering in the area, the smells of all of the foods and even the unsuccessful search for meat and dessert! We ate at another grill it yourself place and watched much of the soccer match on tv there. The South won 1-0.We spent some time on the subway today and here are some pictures. This one of Pae with all of the weary commuters, she may have been the only one awake!Something you'll find in Seoul subway stations...gas masks.Whether it be for any possible terrorist attacks or an attack from their northern neighbors, it's a weird to pass a box of gas masks every 50 meters in the subway.One of the most memorable things about today was GREEN TEA WAFFLES! As we did another round of window shopping, we found a large cafe called Beans Bins that had pix of waffles and ice cream outside...irresistable...they had me at "waff.."We ordered the green tea waffles with green tea ice cream. As we waited, my bowels started gurgling for really the first time on the trip. I looked at Pae, with a look she knows all too well. You know, the "If I don't find a bathroom or a dark corner really soon, things are gonna get REALLY messy" look. She just said "Go!" and I went. I'm glad the bathroom was upstairs, because five days of spicy everything had left my insides rotten...a rotten that even the strong Arabica bean smell of the cafe couldn't mask.
I made it down to our seat just in time to see Pae sitting over the most wonderful culinary creation on Earth...behold...I'm not big on cake or waffles, but dude, this thing disappeared! It was pretty much the rockinist dessert I've ever partaken of! Wow, I look at this picture and my mouth starts watering still today! I'm so happy that it was too cold for Patbingsu!