Seoul, South Korea, April 2017: Seoul, a massive urban jungle, but its not all skyscrapers and housing blocks that one might find in Singapore or Taipei for example. Here in Seoul one can easily loose themselves for a few hours, days or even months (if google maps stops working) somewhere in the maze of little streets and alleys that covers the bulk of this city. While shopping malls and skyscrapers might hold my attention for 5 or so minutes, its the little streets where the real character and charm of the city is to be found.
Here is once such little street in the district of Mapo (Google Map). Just North of the Han river, behind the plethora of high rise is a community of low-rise. Little shops of mosaic tiled exterior walls overflowing with goods out into the street. Its the low rise communities like this that so nicely dilutes the Americanisation that so often accompanies the modernisation of a city, Seoul being no exception. No Starbucks around here, just family owned independent business’s which ever way one looks.
There is are eateries just about every few yards here in Mapo, and everywhere else I’ve been so far. While the high end fancy creations can be eaten on main streets between the skyscrapers or in the tourist neighbourhoods, here on the little streets, food is a bit more down to earth. While the menus might not overwhelm ones taste-buds, I’d say food around here is more for the everyday Korean.
Despite the rise and rise of hyper markets (E-Mart, Home Plus) across the city there’s still a place for traditional markets where one can see everything from escaping octopus to various part of a pigs anatomy! Whilst strolling around the Mokdong neighbourhood I came across the Nambu Market – a little street, covered for about 1/2 a mile lined either side with produce, fish, meats and all manner of strange stuff that would make the average British visitor look away!
Ha, here I timed this just right to see an Octopus escaping from the blade of a knife!
Eels are quite popular around here, as are various kinds of root vegetables.
So, to find the character and charm of Korean life go and explore local neighbourhoods where that Starbucks, or Mcdonalds will fade from your memory, for a few hours at least!