One of the things I miss most about Korea is walking down the street and enjoying all the colours, lights and people 24/7.
Korean cities don’t sleep. It’s true!
At any time of the day, you can take yourself on a fun and interesting walk through the Korean streets and enjoy a night market, buy some fashionable and original clothes and enjoy many, many noises from everywhere.
I loved every single thing about it.
Going “downtown Gwangju” or “Gwangju shinee” as we would say to the taxi driver was a most popular form of spending Saturday afternoon among the foreigners and it almost had a status of a field trip.
Korean streets are vivid, loud and full of energy. On every corner you can see colorful shops, little markets that are selling clothes or food. You can buy new shoes right next to the lady that is selling pickled squid. I recommend trying tobboki which is a type of stew consisted of rice cakes and red pepper paste. It costs from 2000-4000 Korean Won which is about 2-4 USD (just remove the zeros) so it’s very affordable and a perfect combo of a street food and warm, home-made meal.
Besides Korean stores, you can also find a lot of Western brands, such as universal Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King and even 7-Eleven. The little convenience stores like 7-Eleven are simply amazing because they sell food that you can immediately prepare for yourself: you can buy ramen noodles or burgers in refrigerator and they provide you with a hot-water machine (for ramen noodles) and a microwave (for warming up the meals). They even provide you with chairs and a table to eat your food! Plenty of offer for a simple convenience store.
My favourite treat was a Dunkin’ Donuts green-tea filled donut. Seriously, everything in Korea has a special flavour to it: Starbucks is offering multiple kinds of Green Tea Chai Lattes, Burger King is offering shrimp-burgers, Dunkin’ Donuts has a Sweet Potato Latte and green-tea flavoured ice-cream . It’s a guilty pleasure for any sweet-tooth foodie like myself. And all the stores are always packed with people. Dunkin’ Donuts even has three floors:
One more interesting thing to notice in Korean streets:
There is a whole-lot of guerrilla marketing. Everything is loud and in your face. Advertisement is everywhere, there are fliers on every corner and people are talking through the megaphone even in the little stores which are selling jewellery. Just check out this clothing store:
Since it is positioned very high above the eye level, first we were shocked because we thought there are people hanging from the windows! Later we realized it is just creative marketing. It is very different approach to visuals.
For me it was always interesting going through the streets, even when I didn’t go to the city: outside my campus there was so-called “back gate” corner with plenty of Korean restaurants, coffee shops, clubs, stores and little markets. There we would often go after classes and even in the evening because it was almost always open. Korea spoiled me so much that when I got back to Europe, I missed browsing through stores at 10 pm and going for coffee at midnight. Why not?
There is no such thing as a “right time and place for doing things”.
I would always trade a few hours of sleep for a new experience.
Anyway, no good stories started with “that night when I slept 8 hours…” 🙂