Last weekend I headed over to Sinseol-dong, Seoul and the Panda Hostel hosted by the extremely hospitable Jeffrey. It’s that all to short time of the year when the harsh Korean Winter slips into Spring heralded by a maelström of Cherry Blossoms. I’d decided on the pilgrimage to Seoul simply because if the rain arrives coupled with some cold Chinese winds then the blossom is quickly decimated but theres still plenty to do. In addition it was an EPL early kick-off for the Blue Mooners and I could catch that on Saturday night in Itaewon.
So early Saturday I took the metro to the National Assembly Building, Yeouido Island, the location of the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival. Yeouido is a large island in the Han River in Seoul, South Korea. It is Seoul’s main business and investment banking district. Its 8.4 square kilometers are home to some 30,988 people.
In all honestly it’s to say the least mildly overrated; yes the Cherry Blossom is pretty and the climate now glaringly improved but the buds are not particularly spectacular. The younger courting Koreans see it as an opportunity to preen themselves before drowning in a sea of Selfies. It’s also a good chance to re-introduce ones public self again after a winter season of plastic surgery.
The road is closed to through traffic for the period of the festival and the only vehicles it’s necessary to dodge are the ninja cyclists. At the far end of the promenade is the KBS broadcasting centre which flanks Yeouido Park. Yeouido park was buzzing with uncontrolled kids cycling as fast as they possibly could and irritatingly focussed on my lower shins. Fortunately if you growl at Korean children they stop, go quiet for 10 seconds then cry uncontrollably; this prior knowledge allowed me to escape serious injury.
Across from the park is the (International Finance Centre) IFC Mall the self-proclaimed “first international-style shopping mall in Korea”, the Mall has around 100 global brands. In addition to Korea’s first Hollister store and a Banana Republic flagship store, the mall also houses a nine-theater CGV complex, 35 new restaurants and the first Apple outlet (Frisbee) in southwest Seoul.
Quite why anyone other than a pervert would stagger around the dark abyss that is Hollister I do not know! The stores are so dimly lit that parents have complained of tripping over tables, bumping into fellow shoppers and being unable to see any of the clothes. It is a good place to lose a kid so maybe that explains its Korean popularity. In summary you can’t see the sizes, you can’t see the prices, you can’t see the till: I can’t see the point!
From here I took the subway for another spin around the DDP, this time hoping to see the inside of the areas that had been closed for Seoul Fashion Week. Again the interior design left me impressed but less than one week after the opening the pristine bleached white walls were covered in those uncontrolled kids footprints!
Later after a nap and a hearty burger I headed to Itaewon to see the Blues record a somewhat fortunate but ultimately comfortable win against Sarfhampton. Unfortunately my English comrades fashioned a number of Jagerbombs into my one grape night and needless to say Sunday morning was somewhat murky!
After a late 9am rise I wandered the flea markets of Sinseol-dong before heading home to Chungers mid-afternoon.