Kawaii and MarketsSeptember 3 in South Korea ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C
It wasn't a fun night. There was a time once when a room like this would have been fine for us but we have to acknowedge that we really need something a touch more comfortable nowadays. I talk to the woman behind the desk to work something out first, then go see another hotel just around the corner to see if we can get a room. Once it is all sorted I pick up a couple of takeaway coffees and toasted snacks for breakfast. Korean bread is very light and a little sweet, not unlike brioche. A chain of stores called Paris Baguette has all kinds of bread snacks such as croque monsieur and french toast, or their versions of. On the way I stop to photograph all the little Kawaii characters adorning the streetscape.
We pack up our stuff and move around the corner, leaving behind the mountain view. Once settled in to our new room we head off in the direction of the Namdaemun Markets. These aren't just a city block, the markets occupy an entire district with street names like Jewelry Row and Hairtail Alley. Richard is peckish and stops for a fried something on a stick and we press on. I love markets and I also find them intimidating. This one is an assault on the senses. We make our way along the fish alley where stews are bubbling right alongside the narrow footway. After a while we pop out the other side right in front of the Sungnyemun Gate, a solid and imposing structure dating back to the 1400s with a few touch ups over the years. As we consider which direction to go to best see it suddenly a platoon of colourful guards emerges from the subway in front of us and head into the markets. And as suddenly as they appeared, they are gone!
The gate is situated in the middle of a city intersection with traffic and tall city buildings surrounding it. Standing beneath its arch provides cool relief from the heat of the day and offers a chance to admire the rather impressive dragons that guard the threshold at this point in the western wall.Read more