Yes, the major mall I’ve gone to a few times in the last couple of days is actually the Hyundai mall. At least, that appears to be the name of it. I think another might be “The Young Mall” but I don’t really know, as translation and signage seems to be… well, typically in Korean.
To get to this mall, you take the 5 train all the way to Omokgyo station where you meet up with a moving walkway that takes you to the mall itself – and one of the world’s shortest escalators, which I think I forgot to get a picture of.
But, let’s resume our tour with these pictures of the area near Hotel Amigos.
Hotel Amigos Alley
We then move on to the subway, which uses pre-loaded cards rather than any kind of token system. Tokens might be rather quaint, but they’re not as useful as being able to flop one fold of your wallet flat against the turnstile and pay your fare. Though, this also lets them charge you different rates for different trips as you need to flash your card at both ends of travel.
Below is a map of the Seoul subway system. It’s pretty daunting if you’re not used to subways at all, or if you don’t know Korean, but fortunately there’s a nice little iPhone/iPad app available for free downloading that provides you with English translations of the various stops. It’s helpful if you know where you want to go, or if the station is named in such a way that it’s easy to guess what it is. Gimpo International Airport and Incheon International Airport are two easy examples of this, while another useful one is “Digital Media City”. If I knew what a city of Digital Media would be like.
Seoul Subway Map
I’m not sure if this is something most modern subways have or not, but I would assume so. Useful maps of the station, with numbered identifiers for each exit which makes it easy to find your entrance or exit if you’re in an unfamiliar spot. Our hotel is a quick right down the alley after Songjeong station exit 5, for example.
Songjeong Station Map
Moving walkways are a Big Deal in a lot of the subway environments here in Seoul, as far as I can tell. The trip to Gimpo International’s various sections; “Sky City” which appears to be one shopping complex attached directly to the airport, and “E-Mart” which is something I may cover in more detail later, has a number of very long moving walkways. These easily rival the largest I’d seen before, at Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta. Also known as “That goddamn hellpit of a hub.”
Gimpo Moving Walkway
On the wall near the end of this long walkway you find…
The King in Korea
Burger King is a pretty significant force here. I think I’ve seen three Burger Kings and only a couple of McDonalds locations. The beef is mostly from Australia, which explains why a double cheeseburger with bacon is the equivalent of five bucks by itself.
You might be wondering “What does this mall look like from outside?” The answer to that question is that I’m not completely sure yet. I’ve gotten a bit of a view as Minh, James and I went to sushi one evening, but it was in a bit of a hurry. I plan on going there again one of these days soon and I’ll get pictures this time. To start though, let me just explain that the “Mall” portion appears to be at least halfway under ground. Several stories of mall are on subterranean levels of a large skyscraper, which seems to be a mix of shopping, office space, and residential apartments. Even the building Home Base is located in has a number of small loft-style apartments on its upper floors. Friends were going to try and put us up there for ease of travel, but we couldn’t get anything on such a short term. The picture above is the main waiting area and ticket booths for a large movie theater complex in the middle of the mall’s lower floor.
Apple Computer does not have official stores in Korea yet, which really surprises me. With the Korean interest in technology, and the ways that Koreans have tended to innovate in several areas over the last couple of decades, I expected Apple to have at least one store in Seoul to sell iPhones, iPods and now iPads. Though Apple itself isn’t selling products here, most current Apple items that are sold internationally do appear to be available at “a Shop” locations throughout the country. These shops are styled similarly to the clean, spartan layout of an Apple location, and stock a limited amount of merchandise in opposition to the rather packed manner that a lot of shops here tend to use.
Netbooks, or compact laptops seem to be quite popular here. With pricing that appears – at least at this upscale mall location – to be close to or maybe even a little higher than American prices for similar models. The variety however, is far greater with brands like the universally recognized – and nationally ubiquitous Samsung offering models we rarely or never see in the United States. Samsung even sells cars here, and I hope to get enough pictures for a Cars of Korea post soon.
Toilets here have the potential to be fucking awesome. Seriously. There is a reason why this big display of toilet seats is in the middle of an upscale Galleria-style mall and not sitting in the middle of a Home Depot between air vents and shower tile. Also, pay special attention to the name lit up behind this display.
People of America, THIS is what we are known for in the far east.
Oh, the Toilet
This toilet seat will do everything including wipe your ass; with water. And it costs around $350. If I could get this and put it in my baggage, I would seriously consider it. Call your local Home Depot and demand the AMERICAN STANDARD of places to poop.
I don’t know how much it costs, and I don’t know how comfortable the mattress on it is, but I like the style of this bed. The cats would destroy it in five minutes.
I don’t know who looks like it got raped more, the “bear” at the end of the last post, or the woman here in this one. I think I’d heard about this ad online as “controversial” someplace. I think I can see why. But unfortunately, I did find something a little more terrifying on a recent quick trip to Gimpo.
Doesn't look like Tijuana
Yes, that is a giant advertisement for “The Donkey Show”. And I don’t know what scares me most, that they call something the “Donkey Show” at all, or that there don’t appear to be any donkeys. The mind reels.