Yesterday, when we first ventured out onto the streets of Seoul, there were not too many people on the sidewalks, due to the Lunar New Year holiday. Many shops and businesses were closed, which made eating a bit of a challenge! 😯
We went for a walk to find breakfast and to get something to drink (we hadn’t drank anything since we were on the airplanes, which have a dehydrating effect anyway; we don’t like to drink tap water anywhere unless we know it’s safe).
Out on the streets, we didn’t find a lot of options, except that there are a lot of coffee shops in Seoul, including many Starbucks (Starbucks Korea) cafes, where a cup of coffee costs ₩ 3,500 (Korean currency is the won), which, like in the US, is pretty expensive. We stopped there for a while and sat in the sunshine (through the windows) and got warm. Joleen warmed herself up with a cup of coffee while I had a cup of iced tea (I know, it doesn’t make sense, but I don’t do coffee; I’ve started drinking iced green tea, which I should get to do a good bit here; I figure if Joleen can have an addiction, so can I. Actually, we picked up a couple green tea yogurts at a convenience store yesterday but haven’t tried them yet).
For our afternoon meal, we went to Outback Steakhouse, another familiar place (although we don’t really eat there much in the States). We wanted to go to the Hard Rock Cafe in Seoul, but its cafe has not opened yet (according to the website, the Rock Shop recently opened in January 2008 but the cafe is “temporarily closed”). We noticed that the customers at Outback were all young people, which makes us wonder if the Western influences are not as well received among the older generations (just a hunch).
Other “familiar places” we’ve seen so far include McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, 7-Eleven, Pizza Hut, and Domino’s Pizza (and perhaps others). Outside of Pizza Hut we saw several red motorcycles/scooters that were used for delivery. Oddly enough, a motorcycle passed by us later that was a delivery vehicle for McDonald’s! We thought that was funny.
As more of the local shops begin to reopen after the holidays, we’ll get more of a taste of the local Korean food, and experience more of the unfamiliar places in Seoul.