On our way to the subway we stopped by the Hyundai Department Store, the largest department store in Korea. We had lunch at a nearby shopping center at California, a nice little Japanese spot. In Korea, tipping is viewed as an insult to people who give you service. There is also no tax! Our bill came to 14,000 won.
Teryiaki Chicken with California Rolls (don't forget the kimchi, yet again)
I had the same tonkatsu I had last night for dinner AGAIN...it was just too darn good:
In Korea they use the T-Money card, which can be purchased at 7-11 or most convenience stores. It's like a virtual wallet on a card. You can ride the bus, take the subway and buy items at participating stores with your T-Money card. The payment system for the subway is similar to the Octopus card in Hong Kong.
As in most public places in Korea, there are plasma TVs everywhere showing information and temporary entertainment. We had to transfer to another line to get to Itaewon. Now, for those who know my sense of direction, let me proudly announce that I was able to navigate us to Itaewon without getting lost or asking for help (not entirely true, as a nice Korean lady gave us some directions when we appeared "lost"). This subway system was extremely fast and efficient, comparable to the MTR in Hong Kong but it did not have the "Please mind the gap" sound byte when entering and leaving the subway car.
We heard from other teachers that Itaewon was pretty much the touristy area of Seoul that was home for a diverse population and that it catered to US troops stationed nearby. We immediately noticed what they meant when we exited the subway station. Notice the Burger King!
Itaewon reminded me of Thailand and their little shops on the street and people asking you for custom made suits. But it was a little different here. You heard a lot more English being spoken and there were US soldiers everywhere. Also, it was kinda dirty compared to other parts of Seoul and the currency accepted at some stands was in US dollars.
Now, if you plan to come to Korea to teach English, you need to bring some essentials with you. For starters, bring sheets as they don't sell them in Korea. Also bring deodorant as you won't find that anywhere. BUT...the story is that you can buy deodorant in Itaewon, but you have to find it!
Catering to US troops automatically means access to fast food chains. Burger King, Pizza Hut, Baskin Robbins, Starbucks and McDonalds was extremely easy to locate. We popped into McDonalds for the air conditioning and we bought an ice cream cone for only 300 won (about 40 cents CDN)!
Another picture of Mickey D's...
Now, I don't normally eat McDonalds, especially not at rate I used to during high school. But I have tried the fries at various international locations. Some locations overseas still deep fry their potatoes in animal fat which gives the fries this extra tasty flavour and bite. This was the case in Beijing, Hong Kong and Phuket. The fries here...they tasted ok, but weren't as good as the other locations. They were salty though...and water was not free. You had to buy bottled water (which we didn't).