18th Oct 2019 (2nd Day in Seoul)
Next on the itinerary was Namdaemun Market. Not wanting to cross that insanely busy bus terminal with multiple crossings, we hopped onto Seoullo 7017 again; this time we found the flight of stairs which gave us access to the overpass which is (according to Wikipedia) 17 m above street level.
Under such perfect weather, it was a short walk, perhaps 20 minutes, from Culture Station Seoul 284. We went through the “Accessory Alley” and found ourselves in the middle of Namdaemun Market.
Along both sides of the street, are shops, stocked full of merchandise. Right in the middle, a row of street food carts. Hordes of shoppers and visitors weaved between one another, heading in all direction. First order of business was to sample some of those delicious looking street food.
Constant Companion RR and I ate 3 items that late afternoon. We had some gimbap with preserved vegetables, a vegetable Korean pancake and one of those little cakes with an entire egg on the top. Since most of the carts were selling the same thing, more or less, we walked up to this aunty who beckoned us, and bought the gimbap and pancake from her.
With our purchase, we stood in a corner, out of the way of the human traffic, and partook in our little snack. The gimbap was okay, maybe been sitting there openly for a bit too long. The vegetable Korean pancake was slightly better only because it was warm; the lady warmed our pancake up on her hot plate and gave it a couple of squirt from her hand-pump sprayer before handing it over to us. Constant Companion RR and I felt that the pancake tasted too doughy for our preference.
From another vendor, a friendly, soft-spoken man, we bought this cake with an egg on the top. I have seen this snack quite a few times on travel shows, so I looked forward to trying it myself. The vendor gently put the cake into a paper cup and passed it over. Visually, the snack looks quite appetizing, its taste however, was disappointingly familiar. It is a simply denser version of the “Chinese egg/ sponge cake” with an egg on top.
Where are the rubbish bins?
After finishing with our snacks, we had 2 paper cups and 1 paper bowl to dispose of. Without any luck finding one, we went up to the Information Counter, seeking for advise on proper refuse disposal. The young lady informed us that there were no bins out in the public, and most tourists head to the restrooms to get rid of their garbage.
While I do not know the exact reason why having public rubbish bins is such a bad idea, but it definitely caused much inconvenience since so many visitors opted for street food with their disposable tableware.
Anyhow, we found a toilet in the basement of a complex dealing in wholesale goods, and threw away our rubbish in its bin.
Lights! Camera! Action!
With my hands now free and thinking this would be a great time for photography, I finally took out my relatively new Fujifilm X100F and started shooting.
Namdaemun market was a great place to warm-up with my camera. There are always things and people to observe. As much as I could, I try to be as unintrusive as possible so I would not to cause any embarrassment or bother to other people. Nobody likes having a camera shoved right in their faces. However, I realised that made me hesitant to take the shot, some time, and lose the moment. Also, a couple of times Constant Companion RR thinks it was cute to “photobomb” me as I pressed the shutter release button.
Anyhow, I think I should learn how to fade into the background and be unnoticeable. It is a wonderful thing that my camera is so small and inconspicuous.
Next stop, Insadong!