Published: June 10th 2012June 10th 2012
for Michael Jackson or Gaddafi??
8 June: decided I would check out the high end Apgujeong shopping area. Although I knew where it was it was further than I thought from the subway station of the same name. I was essentially looking for Rodeo Street (no relation -- much -- to Rodeo Drive in LA/Beverley Hills). Not entirely sure I actually found it but after having wandered through the two rather large buildings of the Galleria - essentially European labels and all that sort of designer gear, I had probably seen enough anyway. Strangely enough I came upon a wine shop and actually bought a half bottle of NZ pinot noir for about $12 as it was slightly reduced (more importantly it had a screw top -- these snobs who still insist on corks for closures are mugs). Anyway wandered around the back streets over there and unfortunately light rain started. Being as usual in shorts and sandals this was somewhat less than ideal for me so went into a small food hall near a cinema zone and waited there for a while. When it had sort of eased off I thought I would head in the general of the closest subway at Gangnam-gu. Obviously I
Sinchon La Nuit hotel
(on R) - Y over the road
still had to eat so when the prospect of getting out of the spotting rain and eating presented it self that Di Palma's Italian eatery I took it. I think this is the first Asian branch of a NYC chain so hoped the idea of Italian food would be better than the rather weird example I had a few nights previous. The deep-fried eggplant was sort of okay and the creamy sort of baked fettucine with alleged artichokes and Italian sausage was quite nice although with a bit of a chilli edge for some reason (well it is Korea after all and they did present a little side of pickled cucumbers rather than actually the universal kimchi). This got me fed along with a glass of Chilean red I think.
I decided today that I would head out to the old historical fortress at Suwon. However I also had to change hotels as the Hotel WS was completely booked for the weekend of Saturday/Sunday. So I had to pay a rather higher rate of a little more than $90 a night for Saturday and Sunday nights at La Nuit which was on the other side of the
busy main road cutting thru Sinchon. Left my bag there and then got the subway to City Hall and then continued on line 1 to the fish markets at Noryangin, which was on the way. The markets are apparently open 24 hours and there was no way I was early enough to catch the auction obviously. But as they say, if it swims or comes out of the sea (which obviously extends to snails, worms and shellfish etc) they sell it here, likely fresh and still alive. Paddled around there and then decided it would be nice to eat some fresh fish there. I was somewhat concerned that all of the places on the second floor appeared to be sit on the floor traditional style eating -- my knees are not really up for that sort of thing any more. However I was invited into a Japanese restaurant and decided that even I can order sushi without too much difficulty. After that I continued on my train journey to Suwon.
Although I had my compass in my pocket this proved extremely frustrating at Suwon as I headed off North but in the wrong direction for the fortress Hwaseong. Was
about ready to give it away when I returned to the information centre and was put right on the direction, 90 degrees over the road. However it was still not easy after that either and I ended up bashing up around a hill with no sign of the fortress, until I went up thru the trees from the road up the hill and finally ran into its relatively low wall (but it is on top of a very defensible hill). As it was 30 degrees today I could do without all this slogging. It's a very big site and the defensive wall parameter runs about five kilometres which I was definitely not going to trek in the diminishing time available. So I made the shortest route to get back to the station as I was meeting my American buddy Uday for dinner at 7:30 PM in Sinchon.
By the time I got there it was almost 7:40 PM and strangely enough he was just up the subway stairs to exit 8 in front of me. We wandered around for a bit and then he suggested going into the busiest place rather than an empty place. They spoke no English
select size and colour
so it was a bit of a lucky dip and I still not sure what we ate other than that one of the ingredients was porky pig and the other was likely liver. We had a couple of beers there then adjourned to a downstairs bar to finish off a bottle of soju (rice liquor) while I attempted to give Uday some tips on Japan as he was flying there for a few days the next day before heading back to work at a university in Boulder, Colorado.
after all that beer and soju and a very very late night I was in no rush to get going anywhere today and in fact did not really do anything other than go out and get some brunch and then just hang around the rather luxurious 26.5 sq.m. room at the La Nuit hotel. In fact I have booked myself in for a further night here -- fortunately week day rates are about 70% of what they are on the weekend and it is certainly the biggest room I have stayed in in Korea. Not to mention the spa bath! And all the lights can be controlled from the
TV remote - not to mention the air con which I did not discover until told by the desk this morning after a relatively sweltering night. Had a cold noodle dinner in the Hyundai department store basement over the road. And even bought there a heavily discounted screw top Spanish bottle of red at 14,000 won ($12) rather than 53,000 won.
There are more photos below