We started the day nice and well, late. I had forgotten to set an alarm the night before we woke at 12.02pm. This was slightly concerning as it was our last full day in Seoul but luckily we had brought some bread/pastries the day before we were able to have some food at the AirBnB before heading out.
Our main objective was to purchase some glasses as they are ridiculously expensive in the UK to be able to get Asian fit so it made much more sense for us to go to Asia. Having completed some research online, it appeared that Davich Optical in Myeongdong was the way to go. I had previously purchased some in the market but the selection was limited and after 2 years, my favourite pair were looking very tired so I figured we should go to a proper store to get some that would last.
But before that, we needed to power ourselves up. James had previously read about a dumpling place that was close by so we headed there. There was a queue and we knew we were in the right place. You could see an army of women in the kitchen making them and at the front, they brought them out and they were selling out straight away.
We had wanted to purchase 2 small dumplings and 1 large one but with the language barrier we ended up purchasing 5 small dumplings. They had pork and something green in the inside and were super hot to hold but at the same time we felt they should be eaten immediately.
We were fuelled up and ready to go glasses shopping which was a welcome respite from the sun despite us only being outside for all of about 20 minutes.
On arrival at the store, a rather helpful sales assistant approached us and I fired all my questions at him. First, how long does it take to make glasses, answer = 1 hour (although when it came to ordering them later on, it turns out my ones took 3 hours as I have such a strong prescription). Secondly, how much would the lenses cost, answer = KRW 50k for James to have them thinned to 1.61 index and KRW 90k for me to have them thinned to 1.76 index. Thirdly, did this come with the anti scratch and anti glare coating, answer = yes.
With our questions answered, we were ready to start trying on glasses. James was relatively straight forward as he has a tried and tested style that he has stuck to for many years <Editors note – actually after yes trying my usual style that has kept me going for the last six years I went bold and crazy with my actual purchase … something new… find out what that choice was in later blog entries>. The assistant was very helpful at finding glasses that would fit his big head. I only the other hand, tried on a lot of glasses and definitely knew I was drawn to the half plastic half metal giant frames. As they don’t look particularly professional, I also had to try on some boring frames that were work suitable <Editors note – I had to help In San understand what was and was not work appropriate, ‘but this is boring’ ‘Thats the point In San, thats the point’>.
James surprised me and ended up going for some hipster geek chic glasses <Editors note – they were just normal glasses just not the same as usual> and I ended up with some fun glasses, serious glasses, cool sunglasses and an extra pair of frames <Editors note – so many that the salesperson was amazed!> so that I could put lenses into my my prescription next changed.
After this, we cooled down with some mango shaved ice, it was a pretty sizable portion and gave us a much needed sugar boost.
We headed off to Hongdae for a makgeolli tasting session we had booked on AirBnB experiences. Our host, John (aka drunkenpig72) was very friendly and got us to draw each other on our information booklets before beginning. It was a speed sketch so the pictures weren’t that flattering.
John talked about the history of makgeolli and how to make it at home (a quick and less quick method). It seemed pretty simple although did take a bit of effort with the shaking.
James was pumped to be shaking to gangnam style for 4 minutes.
As the fermentation would take 2 weeks, John allowed us to taste a batch from another group who took the course 2 weeks ago. It was particularly sour and not pleasant.
With all the learning complete, we were then onto blind tasting. This involved tasting 6 makgeollis and rating them on smell, sweetness, acidity, aftertaste . and how much we liked them.
We were then talked through the drinks and their tasting notes with his instructions.
The tasting was surprisingly informative which we liked and it was fun having a bit of competition where we had to guess which had the highest alcohol content (I won) <Editors note – It was .2% higher than the one I chose> and which ones had artificial sweeteners. John told us many things, the most interesting was that the Government tried to change the English translation of makgeolli to drunken rice but this hasn’t taken off.
After this, we were provided with dinner, this consisted of homestyle food which we wouldn’t have ordered in a restaurant and was really tasty. The tteokbokki was chewy and not over spicy (hooray) and the pancake had octopus in it.
With our meal, John brought out 2 special makgeollis for us to taste. One was a really thick version, almost like honey and had a pleasant creamy texture. The other was a cheesecake flavoured one, this one did not go down well.
We decided to head to Hongdae after the meal as it was only a 15 minute walk away. We were glad we did as we were welcomed with street performers, in particular, a boy band act caught my eye. They had all the moves, not entirely synchronised but pretty good and they put on quite a show. They only asked for money once near the end and even stayed around to take selfies with all the fans.
We wandered round and saw a bubble wrap stall, we had wanted this for ages in London but the queue was always so long ( >45 minutes) and here there wasn’t one so we had to give it a try. I chose a plain wrap and James insisted on chocolate ice cream (personally I would not have had any ice cream), when James was given the option of a flavored syrup he was smart enough to ask for no whipped cream, because of this I suspect we were given the extra toppings 🙂
All in all, it despite the slow start, it was a satisfying day full of tasty food and Korean pop culture.