Oh, Dongdaemun fabric market. One day, I shall return. And another day shortly thereafter, I will devote an entire post to this place. Mom might die in there if she can make it inside without collapsing in wonder at all the fabrics and ribbons.
Another thing to learn about yours truly: I am a slight craftaholic. Somewhere between the pups, minions, and toffee nut iced coffee, one of my obsessions is crafting. Well, really you could more accurately call it fabric collection. It’s a genetic condition. Anyway, I jumped on the chance to let Kayla take us to Dongdaemun the minute she mentioned the insanely huge (5 mega floors) fabric market, and I could feel J’s eyes rolling even though I hadn’t yet told him about it.
My only purchase, can you believe it among the ribbons, jewels and fabric galore?
Surprisingly, I think J was the most amazed when we ventured inside. There were hundreds, and I do mean hundreds, of vendors selling everything from small sparkly notions to huge bolts of fabric. Kayla led us through the maze of craft supplies and I made out with a yard of cute-as-a-button Christmas tree fabric, which I plan to make into a small tree skirt for our tiny tree that should be arriving in 6 days!
After the fabric market, we wandered into a couple of “shopping malls” nearby (more like clothing markets), and I had the er, pleasure, of learning a bit about shopping for clothes in a new environment. I saw a cute sweater dress on a mannequin and approached the vendor to inquire about purchasing it so I fit in with the tights-and-boots wearing ladies around town. The lady sort of scoffed at me when I asked about sizing, and she tried to explain that one size fits all. Looking at my large American posterior and thinking it will just never, ever be Korean-sized, I decided that I could at least try it on before totally rejecting a great deal (10,000 won). I began to take my coat off and the woman began shaking her head fiercely while stealing away the dress and then completely ignoring my existence.
Lesson learned: no trying on. Apparently people come in a more homogenized size here and I should assume that what fits the mannequin will work on me. Fear not, more mainstream stores like H&M and the Gap (they have a few here), as well as the formal department stores, do have fitting rooms to make sure you don’t rip open the seams of those adorable leggings the first time you put them on. Happily, I found the same exact dress at another shop down the way, with a much more amenable vendor. I didn’t try it on, but the mannequin didn’t look too much smaller than me, and I am in luck, it fits!
With some time to spare before catching the latest installment of the Hunger Games at the movie theater on base, we decided we would walk up to Seoul Tower, officially known as the YTN Seoul Tower. The tower was built in 1969 as an observatory near the geographical center of the city. We hailed a cab to the bottom of the trail up to the tower and prepared for a hike up to the top.
We had to stop halfway up at the convenience store for some water – I think we overestimated how much we needed.
As you can tell, though it was chilly, the minute you get your feet going up all those stairs, the first thing to go is your jacket. For an inexperienced “hiker” such as myself, it was quite a bit of exercise to make it all the way, but I didn’t sweat too much, and it is certainly manageable for the average human being. Plus, I thought this was a great change of scenery (read: actual scenery) compared to the drab of Houston.
Seoul Tower in all its glory.
Huffing and puffing the last few extra-steep meters (hello there, suddenly metric self!), I went straight for the line at Coldstone Creamery. Yes, there is an American ice cream shop at the top of the hill where the tower sits. How convenient! I consume way too many calories for this body to reasonably digest, especially this past weekend, but all the walking uphill made a dent in the potential cellulite. Kayla and I enjoyed our cones and the view from the top, where the chain link enclosure was laden with locks, like the bridge in Paris where lovers leave their mark.
I got “coffee cheesecake crunch” or something of the sort. Yum!
We took in more of the view, and Jake pointed out at a distance the Korean “white house” where the president lives and works. Before heading back, we stood in the exact geographical center of Seoul. Being at the center of a city of 10 million (26 million in the metro area) is pretty impressive if you take a moment to really let it sink in. I felt really special yet really unimportant all at once. Most of all, I thought about how lucky we are to be able to experience little moments like this with the people we love. I will always be grateful for this Thanksgiving. It will be a tough one to beat.