Other Stuff, Seoul
This is a little weird. In the last 2 days two fortune tellers have approached me and my Korean friend (one each).
One came to my work. This guy was from Punjab/india and he just came to our office, gave his card to our receptionist and asked to see the CEO. Since our CEO is not 100% in the English department (and busy most of the time) I was asked to see this guy. Now, keep in mind, his card said nothing about being a seer. As soon as I sat down he said he was into astrology and could tell me if my life/love/career would be good or whatever. I dismissed him...no time to spend on this kind of thing.
Another, a Thai guy, couldn't even speak English well, let alone Korean. He approached my friend in the street--they were both wearing suits. He asked if my friend spoke English and then started to say how my friend would have such a good career and everything. Then he brought out his wallet and said he was on his way to Hong Kong (!??) and my friend gave him 1,000 won (USD 0.80) as a token. The Thai guy says, "Hey, I'm not a begger!" What the heck is that about?
Unique Suggestions: I know that some people come here for Korean fortune telling (most Koreans do this just before marriage to ensure the stars are in alignment) but it's mostly a Christian country here (and fortune tellers are verboten/forbidden according to the Bible). I have no idea what these guys were doing here--at least speak the languageand have some benefit statement instead of showing up expecting a good reception.
If you come across these guys do what you like...they seem harmless, if annoying to some.
Ok, it happened...maybe. Last night bought a few DVDs with a friend from a seller on the side of the road. He was previewing some of the disks and chatting us up to buy something, but the ones I bought we did not preview. Got back to my PC, put the DVD in the slot...nothing. One of them has the 'grooves' that a recording would leave, the other was pure as the driven snow...both had nothing on them (according to the D: drive directory). Still have to check them out on an actual DVD player, but I don't hold out much hope...
Unique Suggestions: There is a lesson here: preview every DVD you buy, just to be sure you're overpaying for a blank disk (which you can get for a couple of won inside the market area).
Fun Alternatives: Download from the net...it's free and easy (but takes time and may have viruses) but at least you don't pay to get nothing.
Be warned! Souveniers cost a lot more in tourisity places like the airport and itaewon than in local joints like the supermarket. The last time I checked, there were charging 10000w for an ordinary bag of candy and abut 20000w for an ordinary set of Korean spoon and flat chopsticks.
Unique Suggestions: Well, if you really need to buy something at the airport lest your missus bites off your head, get her the ginseng mask at 10,000W or the traditional pumpkin candy that is made on the spot. The candy tastes like mild taffy and I think it costs about 10000w or so. Try it before buying, it should feel soft and warm if it is fresh. It's way better than ginseng candy ( see below)
Fun Alternatives: Drop into the neighbourhood "Family Mart" just before you leave Seoul to buy your last minute goodies. Trust me, you'll get to buy more interesting stuff at a cheaper price than the airport. Yes, even ginseng candy is available there . For the life of me, I can't understand why Singaporeans love to buy this non-nutritional candy that smell like my cat's **** ( rhymes with hiss). It doesn't taste good either despite the fact that it's loaded with sugar.
You will hardly ever find prices on anything which leads one to conclude that they charge other people more than others. We all know that is a fact in Asia. So, make sure you haggle with them here. And they are very tough!!!! But don't haggle without intent to buy, that will really upset them.
Unique Suggestions: Be pleasant when trying to get a good deal, smile and bow.
On a beautiful sunny day we decided to do a boat trip on the han river. It was lovely, there is no question about it. But Seoul is so spread out that it doesn't offer a nice Skyline around the Han River.
Fun Alternatives: Instead of doing a boat tour you should go up to 63-Building or even better Seoul Tower. You have a much better view and idea about the city.
And if I can't provent you of going there, the tour costs 7'000 won and starts at the Riverbanks right in front of the 63-building.
Then head to Lotte World. Also this year the park was sclosed down because it was extremely dangerous. A few of the rides, plus the ceiling was on the verge of collapsing! Not where I'd like to try out the indoor rollarcoaster.
Unique Suggestions: It gets so busy but people are used to waiting 40min to an hour for a ride on weekends. The indoor skating rink is nice and a fun thing to do even though it's busy. Just dodge the falling children!
Fun Alternatives: Everland is much better. It's worth the extra $ and the trip out of Seoul.
Very expensive to exchange your money at the airport...I did that to most of my travel expenses and found out that I could get more Won in the center of Seoul.
There are many private exchange places in the city of Seoul, like Myeong Dong and other shopping areas. And they offer much better rate...
if you think airport rate is low..maybe this time you will prefer to change your money at the airport..coz if you will arrive and planning to exchange money outside airport..bank is a good place to change it but if you arrive in seoul past banking hours(4pm local time) you have to find a money exchange shop which will be hard for you to find since the signage are all in korean except if you can read their writing and can talk korean..anyway..just to take out those hassle of changing money change it at the airport..the rate is also quite high.
Street hawkers tend to sell tourists higher prices. I bought 1 pear at 3000 won. It doesn't taste as sweet as they claimed, very juicy though. Saw similar pears selling at 2 for less than 3000won in supermarkets. Taste the same.
Unique Suggestions: If you really want to buy from street hawkers, bargain till at least 1200won per pear or else leave. They will probably lower the price automatically.
it costs 30,000 won to pose with pictures at Gyeongbok Palace (included in it is the wardrobe rent plus posing with beautiful korean girls in Hanbok dresses plus a glass framed picture of it) well what can i say, I fell for it hehe!
but seriously, if you don't like to shell out big bucks, then just refuse them ok!
Unique Suggestions: you have the power of choice, you can just ignore them since 30,000 won is almost $30!
Fun Alternatives: none, since they are located mear the front of the palace!
Plastic kitsch you just suddenly know you need - at 1am!! 1am shopping at doota...
Check out all the street markets, lots of good deals at a decent price. Lots of souvenirs, clothes, electronics, etc...
Try to shop at a few place before you buy anything. Beautiful as they may be, prices differ a great deal in Seoul for the same item.
These Korean national costume magnets are ideal for gifts & souvenirs. My sis love it & they are easy to carry. So, look out for them when you are in Seoul.
Masks of all sizes & expressions.
Thought it'll be a good idea to keep one for 'shocking' one's spouse in the middle of the night, lol...