One of the topics for Korean lessons last week was 쇼핑하러 가요, let’s go shopping. I quite like shopping but things have changed in the pandemic and with no events or reason to browse, I guess we don’t shop like we used to. It’s smarter to be outside rather than in a mall these days too. Nonetheless, we still have to buy things don’t we? Food obviously, the pharmacy for mask supplies and other necessities, I “needed” a new beanie the other day. I upgraded my neck warmer as well, which I prefer to a scarf for walking, as a neck warmer is more compact in my bag.
So, the lesson got me thinking about how my attitude to shopping has changed. I still love an urban explore though and my favourite areas for window shopping and just walking around are in Gangnam. If I’m on my weekend walk and I get it in my head that I wish to buy something, then I’ll choose to take my exercise in Gangnam, mostly because the shopfronts have a wow factor. Many areas are luxe and others are quirky, fun and high tech. A good long stroll along Dosan-daero provides an opportunity to view much interesting architecture whilst I’m warm and snug in my new beanie and soft neck warmer. (At least in winter).
I also love Garosu-gil, the main drag in Sinsa as there are gorgeous shopfronts and boutiques. You can take any offshoot from Garosu-gil and it will lead you to a plethora of restaurants and cafes. I also find it fun to to check out Hyundai Department Store and then head down Apgujeong Rodeo Street. The Galleria is a beautiful store to look at from the outside and it changes colour in the sun. At night I believe it lights up and I’ve seen some spectacular pictures on google but I reserve my sightseeing for the weekend daylight hours, particularly in winter.
Cheongdam has all the luxury brands represented and it’s great for exploring and gasping at the architecture those brands are housed in. There are also plentiful high end restaurants for a full luxury experience. I often while away some time getting lost around this area.
Another favourite of mine is COEX and Starfield COEX Mall. The huge video installation outside is worth watching as there are often special effects incorporated into the display. Inside the mall you’ll find the instagrammable Starfield library. The escalators are the main attraction and you’ll notice people posing on them whilst their friends below take the best shot.
Still on the architectural theme, close by to COEX is Bongeunsa Temple. Built around 1200 years ago, it’s set in expansive and magnificent gardens and whilst simply stunning for the structures alone, the garden is especially lovely to visit in autumn and spring.
If I do any night walking, it’s usually by the Han River with my husband. We walk to Banpo bridge, in Gangnam. Before the pandemic, 190 waterjets from the top of the bridge and lit with rainbow colours, sprayed water in a colourful arc into the Han every 20 minutes as soon as night fell, in the warmer months of the year. It drew very large crowds so it’s suspended for now. It’s a magical moment and I’m looking forward to seeing it again, not least because it will be an indicator the pandemic is over :).
Gangnam might be an expensive place to shop but capturing its scenes are free.
Rainbow fountain from Banpo Bridge