The Palace and the Mall

Day two of Chuseok and the hotel has a few special items on the breakfast menu like Korean pancakes instead of pizzas and songpyeon rice cakes.

Much of Seoul is still closed, so we plan to wander around the historic Bukchon hanok, an area of preserved traditional Korean houses.

It’s crowded with tourists, but again not much is open, including the tourist office and the Education Museum behind it. So we continue on to the Folk Museum, which is also closed..But we can see others seemingly walking around it and follow the castle wall further down.

There we find ourselves at Gyeongbokgung Palace, which is not only very much open, but free during Chuseok!

The palace was destroyed twice by Japanese invasions, but has been rebuilt over the past few decades. It’s huge and a lot of walking under the hot skies. It is also crowded with both foreigners and locals, many from both groups dressed in hanboks from the many hire places in the area.

The basic design language of the palace buildings are Chinese, with the curved tile roofs. However, the details are distinctly Korean, from the different roof guardians to the patterns on the bricks and tiles and the red and the greens of the walls and fittings.

We’ve all enjoyed Gyeongbokgung Palace, but we’re quite ready to find somewhere cooler to spend the afternoon.

Alex still wants to visit Lotte World Tower. We catch the metro at the station outside the palace. However, along the.way is Gangnam Station, so B wants to stop and see the place made famous by Korean singer Psy’s hit “Gangnam Style”.

After a long walk through the underground station we exit into a street of modern skyscrapers and very little life.

Returning to the station we continue along to Jamsil and the Lotte World complex.

Alex doesn’t want to go to the theme parks or the aquarium and the Avenuel Mall is closed for Chuseok. The other mall is open so we head there in search of lunch We are starving!

A Lotteria joint seems an appropriate choice, but our orders of shrimp burgers take forever.

There are many floors of shops and restaurants. Some of them have really nice things, but not things we need and so we don’t buy anything.

With exhausted feet we sit in the park for a while and admire the incredible 555 metre high Lotte World Tower.

Unfortunately, the queue to buy tickets to the observation platform is almost as long as the tower is high (or so it feels) so we give up on that idea.

We explore the mall searching for food. There are plenty of places to eat, but most have queues and are either expensive or not what we want or both.

The Viking Seafood offers all you can eat lobster for A$130 per head.


We sit down for a blueberry milkshake at a milk bar and it’s delicious. Definitely like Korean dairy products so far.

There is an Aqua Garden Cafe on the basement floor where you can have a drink surrounded by beautiful freshwater aquariums. I really want to try it, but it’s expensive and my request is denied.

I see a lone Siamese algae eater in the front entrance tank and think of our aquariums and the pair of algae eaters at home. Hope they are okay.

Giving up on Lotte World with nothing but some burger meals and a milkshake to show for it, we catch the metro to Hoehyeon.

Namdaemun Markets are closed, like in Dongdaemun, only a few carts on the food street are open, selling the same old stuff as last night, plus a few clothing carts. We return to the station entrance gate where the Best Grilled Mackerel in Universe is closed for Chuseok and only one lonely Gimbap restaurant has its lights on.

We order Kimchi Jigae (stew with sausages) for B, seafood noodles in soup for Alex and grilled mackerel (for me, but really for the others).

I’m too tired to eat and too tired for the strong flavours, but the food is definitely enjoyed by the others. I wish I could have something simple, but there’s little open and the convenience stores don’t have the same wide selection as in Japan.

Thankfully it’s only a short metro ride back to Dongdaemun and our hotel, because everyone is sore and exhausted from the heat and the walking.

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