We intended to spend the day out at Namiseom 남이섬 (Nami Island) and Gangchon Rail Park 강촌레일파크 but a miscalculation of our traveling time made us miss the morning train that will be able to bring us there! And the next trip out of Seoul will only depart in another seven or eight hours later! It just doesn’t make sense for us to arrive at both locations when they are about to close for the day so we had to make secondary plans, pronto.
[Korea September/October 2014]
6th Oct 2014 – Day 11
Bupyeong and Cheonggyecheon
If you had been following my travelogue series ever since, you would probably notice that we had been checking out quite a number of underground shopping malls located at the metro train stations in both Busan and Seoul. The one most prominent reason why we do so is because these places were said to have the widest range and the most affordable deals for the latest Korean fashion trends!
And since we had missed the train heading out of Seoul and we were quick far off from everything, we decided to throw ourselves further off course and take an hour’s worth of metro train ride to Incheon and check out Bupyeong-gu 부평구!
To be honest, the only reason why we ever thought of Bupyeong was because we remembered Lyn’s message telling us about her findings about Bupyeong Station’s underground shopping mall after she left us behind in Seoul and headed back first.
It was said that the underground shopping mall located at Bupyeong Station is way bigger (probably the largest?) and better than the other similar shopping malls, minus the crowd. And true enough, this must be the massive-most underground shopping mall in my memory from this trip to Korea!
This underground mall basically links up most of the buildings and others malls around the vicinity of that station so the entire shopping arena consists of about 30 exits, countless of lanes and turns to take you to the exits, and needless to say, so many shops offering the latest Korean fashion trends, beauty and cosmetic products and even food!
If you are really planning to head there, I think the best way to enjoy this shopping arena is simply not worrying about getting lost inside there!
When we were done wondering how beavers survive scurrying through underground tunnels, we headed up onto street level and I kinda fell in love with how the town appears to be a little laid back as compared to most areas within Seoul!
While walking around Bupyeong-gu aimlessly, we half followed Google Maps and half followed the locals until we stumbled our way into the Bupyeong Market!
And trust me, visiting the local wet market is actually one of my favorite-most thing to do when I travel! I feel that it is always the best way to understand the culture of that particular land I was visiting. The markets we visited prior to this, namely Jagalchi Market (Busan) and Gwangjang Market (Seoul), were both too touristy in my opinion and I was really glad that Bupyeong Market turned out to be an eye-opener! It was not like I was going to buy anything to whip up a feast but it was pretty fun to mingle among the locals and check out the common and familiar ingredients in the Korean cuisine!
Anyway, in between checking out both the underground shopping mall and local market, we managed to grab food and snacks that I didn’t have pictures of, unfortunately. And just like that, we kinda spent the entire morning and the afternoon out in Bupyeong-gu and it was already evening time when we got back to Seoul!
Evening walk at Cheonggyecheon 청계천
Then Xin wanted to just chill out back in our apartment but I felt like taking an evening walk alone. I guess I was sulking that we didn’t manage to check out Gangchon Rail Park and Namiseom and also the fact that we were almost coming to the end of our grand break in Korea.
And it wasn’t difficult to decide where I will take that evening walk since I always had Cheonggyecheon at the back of my mind. So I made an estimation to how long I did like to walk around for and decided I will commence my evening walk right in the heart of Dongdaemun!
First up, Dongdaemun Design Plaza!
I did a brief walkabout around the arts and cultural hub located in the heart of Dongdaemun and I just realised I don’t remember any of the exhibitions that I looked through. And of course, I couldn’t even recall which male Korean star was having an autography session there on the same day with all his fans screaming at their top of their lungs while waiting for him to appear!
But I surely do remember that it was really nice and serene walking through the vicinity of DDP (both indoors and outdoors), not forgetting the fact that its facade looks really impressive in my opinion.
The innovative design, that utilizes mainly concrete and curved perforated metal sheets to illustrate the overall concept, integrates the park and plaza seamlessly as one, blurring the boundary between architecture and in a continuous, fluid landscape.
And during construction, the world’s largest and highly three-dimensional building set many new standards for design and construction across the world you can possibly imagine. Or to cut the long story short, DDP is truly a masterpiece on its own!
While walking around aimlessly outside and inside DDP, I found the Design Market that is basically a retail space where you can find products from one-of-a-kind home deco to perky products for everyday use or even unique fashion accessories!
And I also happen to chance upon quiet nooks as well as a quaint cafe hiding at the corner on the upper levels of the design plaza. I supposed if I live out in Seoul, the plaza will potentially be one of my favorite haunts when I need some peace!
Heading towards the stream and crossing the busy main street cutting through the highly raved Dongdaemun Shopping Haven… Which only reminded of the failed shopping spree attempt a few nights ago! Haha!
Anyways, finally presenting to you… Cheonggyecheon 청계천!
Cheonggyecheon has a colorful history of its own among all the beautiful historical buildings and sites in Seoul. It was first paved in 1958 when more and more people moved to Seoul after the Korean War and further developed with an elevated highway in 1976 to ease traffic in downtown Seoul.
And finally in 2003, a project was initiated to restore the stream to re-introduce nature back to the city. Today, the stream serves not only as a venue for countless of major events in Seoul, it is a somewhere you can walk down and ease you mind with the therapeutic sounds of flowing water on any given hectic day you’re having. It’s a nature retreat even to me. And for the fact that it is such a successful landscaped space today, it is a popular case study with its history and photos documented in numerous books.
When I finally got to the stream, the sun was already beginning to set and it was gradually becoming dark. It was all silhouettes and shadows and the setting sun casted a chrome hue over any reflective surface including the water flowing through the stream. Quite mesmerising, I have to say!
I know that the landscaped area around Cheonggyecheon is a very popular venue for major events in Seoul but I really wasn’t expecting to be able to witness something happening along the stream when I went for my evening walk.
Even if it was just a quiet stand-alone exhibition about books and publications, it was really interesting to see that there were people heading there or even slowing down while passing just to check out the exhibition. And that really makes me wonder if it will be equally successful if we have got a similar exhibition happening along Singapore River or something.
Throughout the entire walk, I had my phone and everything else tucked away in my bag and it was pretty much just me and myself (and my camera, occasionally…). And thanks to that, I managed to notice so much tiny little details along the stream from the kind of people who uses the landscape space to the plants and creepy crawlies! Really interesting!
Did I remember to mention that the weather was simply perfect for the evening walk and getting a short retreat close to nature after so many days going around Korea was really all that I needed that I was prepared to walk all the way back to our apartment in Chungjeongno!
But before you freak out about how insanely far that is, I did like to say that I actually aborted the idea immediately when I got distracted with the thought of egg muffins 계란빵! So when I was somewhere near Myeongdong, I broke away from the intended path in search of those egg muffins! Hehe!
It was an amazing evening walk and absolutely a great nature retreat in the heart of the city other than the fact that I felt a little claustrophobic at areas where it got narrower between the side walls and the stream. And somehow, I really cannot help but to recall Singapore River and how similar both of them are! It was because of these river and stream that brought life and an elaborate history to the land around it!
More posts from Korea September/ October 2014 travelogue series:
- Day 1 – Seomyeon Shopping District, Gwangalli Beach & Gwangan Bridge
- Day 2 – Gamcheon Culture Village, Jagalchi Market, BIFF Square, Gukje Market & Gwangbok-ro Fashion Street
- Day 3 – Shinsegae Centum City, Haedong Yonggungsa & Jong-ga Daebak Jib
- Day 4 – KTX Busan to Seoul & Myeongdong
- Day 5 – Gwangjang Market, Bukchon Hanok Village (Samcheong-dong) & Insa-dong
- Day 6 – Edae Shopping District
- Day 7 – Gangnam and Sinsa-dong Garosu-gil
- Day 8 – Ihwa Mural Village and Namdaemun
- Day 9 – Hongdae (Hongik University Street)
- Day 10 – Hangang Park
- Day 11 – Bupyeong (Incheon) and Cheonggyecheon (Seoul)
- Day 12 & 13 – Flashback and Goodbye Korea (for now)!