Continued from Second Week in Seoul: Color Me Rad I
Nicole and I packed our bags at the hostel and got some breakfast at a local brunch place. Brunch isn’t too common in Korea, so most brunch places are in the foreign parts of town such as Itaewon. I got real buttermilk pancakes with thick cut bacon, and I mean thick, like bacon steak if that was a thing. This place had real delicious coffee as well, a welcome change from yesterday’s McDonalds. Coffee in Korea, and in most places outside of the US does not exist the way it does in the states. Most places have lattes, cappuccinos, and espresso, but rarely do they have traditional American coffee. I often order an Americano (espresso plus hot water).
Sunday in Itaewon is an immensely peaceful place if you’re up
early enough anytime before noon. In the afternoon shoppers wander its streets eating international food and shopping in various boutiques. At night Itaewon becomes a crazy club district and its packed with people, Korean and foreign alike.
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After breakfast, Nicole and I caught a cab toBongeunsa Temple, a place even more tranquil than Itaewon on a sleepy Sunday morning. Bongeunsa Temple is a Buddhist temple dating back to 794. Its located close to the center of Seoul, ironically surrounded by shopping malls and some of the most expensive apartment buildings in Korea. We spent the afternoon wandering around the temple, observing its majestic beauty and instagraming its secrets.
I got the impression not many
tourists westerners visit the temple. Nicole and I got a lot of curious looks as we wandered the temple and one gentleman stopped and spoke with us for about 15 minutes telling us about the temple’s history.
After leaving the temple, Nicole and I walked across the street to the convention center on the off chance something fun was happening. Indeed it was, there was a Korean children’s character licensing convention. I’m not 100% on what that means, but there were tons of children’s characters in costumes handing out autographs and taking photos. It was a madhouse. Nicole and I wanted to go into the convention and take photos, but there was an admission fee and it didn’t seem worth it since neither of us knew who any of the characters were.
Seven Luck Casino
The convention center is massive and it connects to a hotel & casino next door. That’s right, a Korean casino. Nicole and I had to go, and we were not disappointed. We had both expected a casino similar to one in the states where you can wander in off the Las Vegas strip in shorts and a t-shirt and gamble to your heart’s content, that was not quite the case here.
Nicole and I stroll in off the streets in Seoul in our shorts and t-shirts, because it’s 90 degrees with 100% humidity. Immediately we’re greeted by a staff of 5 or 6 Koreans in full suits. The small lobby is immaculate with crystal chandeliers and fountains. Clearly, we are underdressed, but we decided not to let that dissuade us from seeing this Korean casino. I greet the first gentleman in a suit and he asks for our passports. In Korea, you cannot go into a casino unless you are a foreigner. I believe Koreans are not allowed to gamble. After we get our passports back, we walk around the corner of the lobby and take an escalator up to a small gambling floor with maybe 50 slot machines and a few tables for poker and roulette. Everyone gambling in the casino looks Korean, which is odd since this should be foreigners only. I suspect that there is some way around this passport check or maybe they bribed the doorman.
Nicole and I aren’t gamblers so we mostly just look around until we spy in the corner, past the flashing lights and slot machines, a juice bar. That’s right, this casino has free juice, and by that I mean there are several pitchers of airplane-quality juice available to drink out of tiny paper cups. Nicole and I go over and start slamming back shots of juice with reckless abandonment. The fact that its cold and free almost makes up for how bad it is. I feel like whoever made this juice had never had real juice. Someone probably described juice to him and he said “oh yeah, I know what you mean” but really had no idea.
Nicole took a picture of me drinking free juice and several casino security guards came by and told us not to take photos. At that point, we’d seen everything we wanted to at the casino and decided to head back to Itaewon and gather our bags for the bus back.
4D Movie Experience
Nicole and I took the bus back to Gwangju and made it back early enough in the evening to see a 4D movie at the bus station. The Gwangju bus station has everything, tons of shops, restaurants, a department store, and a 4D movie theater. It’s awesome. In the 4D movie theater you get sprayed with smells, your seat shakes, you might get wet, and you occasionally get air blown on you. It’s just like a 4D ride at Disney but it’s a full-length movie in a theater.
Nicole and I saw Pacific Rim, a movie about giant transformer robots fighting giant monsters from an alternate universe. It’s probably the perfect movie to see in 4D because its so over the top. The movie itself wasn’t too bad. The action was massively epic, but the character development was nonexistent and I didn’t really care what happened to any of the people in the film.
If you think there are a lot of previews before movies in the states, don’t see movies in Korea. There were easily twice as many previews and general advertisements before the movie along with several warning screens about motion sickness. Overall the 4D experience was a lot of fun, but after the first hour or so I started to get tired of the 4D part and just wanted to watch the movie without being shaken or having air blown on me, but the gimmick was a fun one-time thing.