Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Saturday, December 2

Christmas shopping day in Seoul.

I had my whole day planned out. I would transfer subway lines for an extra twenty minute ride to a subway station at the Myeong Dong shopping district. I thought I was really utilizing the public transportation system. When I emerged from the subway station I quickly realized I was a block from our normal subway station that I could have been too 20 minutes earlier. Whoever invented subway maps was a genius and wisely condensed them to cover large territories and yet fit on a single sheet of paper.

For the practical minded of us who like maps to follow some sort of above ground topography, this is a huge draw back.

I did end up in the Myeong Dong shopping district and asked a hotel concierge where I might find a souvenir shop. She kindly informed me that the nearest souvenir shop closed three years ago. (Mental note to write to Moon Handbooks). An information booth pointed me to an underground shopping plaza.

The shops were tiny and stacked floor to ceiling with an array of goods. Ginseng, t-shirts, lighters, souvenirs, and many other items.

In one shop, I selected my items within ten minutes and then the shop keeper in broken English asked me to sit down. She served me a Vitamin C drink (it was cold outside) and proceeded to take 15 minutes wrapping my packages. She was meticulous. First tissue paper, then newspaper, then bubble wrap, and finally gift wrapping paper. I was impressed. Customer service is certainly a priority here.

The second shop I was in I found a moderately priced Jade necklace. I asked if I could pay with my MasterCard and she immediately dropped the price 5,000W. Thinking back, I'm sure I could have gotten her to lower the price more but I have some inherent problem with haggling over price. If it is too expensive I won't buy. I've never been good bargaining for price.

On my way home, the subway platform was surprisingly empty. It seemed dreary. Certainly not like the Londoner's cheerful 'Mind the Gap' ringing through the underground.

I came home to find our Korean helper teacher and my room mate waiting to make kimchi pizza. It is an authentic Korean dish that could easily be duplicated provided you have the right ingredients.

Lots of a thin pancake batter
3 eggs
2 big bundles of green onions
2 pounds frozen kimchi - chopped

Mix all ingredients and fry in a hot oiled pan like a pancake.

Dipping Sauce:

3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot chili powder
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice syrup

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