Don’t stop us now, we’re having such a good time in Seoul (Day 220)
A day with our friend's daughter including some Karaoke, or Noraebang as it is known here. Don't stop us now, we're having such a good time....in Seoul!
At just after 11 am, we met Monique at the station just down the road. Monique is the daughter of our friend Elizabeth and has been living in South Korea for the past 10 months teaching English to children. She is a similar age to our eldest so how lovely that she has agreed to spend the day with us old cronies. And what a lovely day we’ve had. We hopped on the train as Monique was taking us to the North of Seoul city – in fact for a walk to Cheong-gye-cheon. What a coincidence, just where we wanted to go to yesterday and ran out of time. On the way, we stopped off for coffee and honey toast. Wow! It was massive. A huge chunk of lightly toasted white bread with runny honey dribbled all over and a big dollop of cream on top. My healthy eating has really gone to pot! We eventually found Cheong-gye-cheon. This area was part of an urban renewal project in 2003 restoring a stream that was covered over with an elevated highway after the Korean war. It is now an 11km walkway along the stream that runs through downtown Seoul, creating an environment away from the traffic with clean flowing water and various species of fish, birds and insects. We saw a large heron poised ready to strike at any moment. There were large stepping stones that people can jump over to the other side and as it is lower than the roadway, the temperature is cooler, a nice relief from the heat. We are so glad that we went there and it made the time even more enjoyable chatting away with Monique. Next on her agenda was taking us to a market. To begin with, we thought it was closed, however as we walked further down the long alleyway, we came across more and more stalls selling their wares. There were rows upon rows selling reams of material, lace, cotton, men’s suit material, every kind you could think of. There were stalls selling fish, vegetables and meat and then we came across a small room where there were a few women busy peeling sacks of onions and another lady grinding what turned out to be mung beans into a thick paste. We were rather curious what this would be used for, and then the next few stalls gave us the answer. Mung bean pancakes. The mung bean batter was mixed with onion and bean sprouts and deep fried. We each had a third of a pancake, very filling and delicious, and later washed this down with a freshly made fruit smoothie. Yum. We walked for some time, passing shops selling just varieties of one item, be it lightbulbs, shoes laces, rope or elastic bands and later arrived at Myeongdong, a bustling shopping area full of neon lights, restaurants with live octopus and other sea creatures waiting to be eaten, street food, and …where was it? We were looking for a Karaoke place, which is very popular in South Korea. When we had our coffee earlier, Monique shared with us how she loved to sing. She has been in various choirs since the age of 6. When she first arrived in Seoul she visited many Karaoke places known here as Noraebangs on her own. After wandering around for some time and asking a few people where a Noraebang was, we were signposted to one, walked up the stairs to discover that it had closed down. We did have a laugh pretending it was still there! Luckily outside was a couple of young women with “information” on their caps. They put us in the right direction and we, at last, found one. Walking down into the basement, we paid for our private room (under £7), chose some songs by Madonna, Abba, UB40, Police and Queen, and sang our hearts out. What a hoot! After each song, we were rated for our singing quality and a couple of times we did manage over 90/100! By the time we got to last song, Queen’s 'Don’t stop me now', Tim and my voice were very croaky so we managed a mere 60! It was time for us to go our separate ways. We caught the train back, thanking Monique for such a fabulous day. What a wonderful young lady and we very much appreciated our time with her. Life is full of wonderful people and we seem to meet many. Food and a bit of retail therapy later (Tim bought a very nice long sleeved linen shirt – not particularly ideal for travelling – but perhaps the un-ironed look is cool?), we’re now back at our Airbnb…we really are having such a good time.