APPT Seoul: Got techno?
Following a fun time at dinner, we decided to venture further into the heart of Seoul in the search of a little shopping fix. Our goal was some cheap electronics. Being techies, it didn't really matter what kind, but if it beeped, flashed or buzzed, and was cheaper than the equivalent product back home, then we were keen.
Our cameraman extraordinaire Andrew Dorn told us about an "awesome" market that he and Lynn Gilmartin had visited briefly during their opening day sightseeing for PokerStars.tv. From what he told us, it sounded impressive. We said good night to blogging buddy Dave Behr (unless "beeps" and "flashes" involve Korean women, then he's not interested), and the three of us jumped into the nearest taxi. We muttered, "Dong dae mun" in our best Korean accent. The taxi driver nodded and with a glimmer of hope that he knew what we were talking about, we were on our way.
Thirty minutes later and we found ourselves stuck in a traffic jam with an abundance of cars, people and general mayhem as we arrived at, what we hoped was, our intended destination.
"It looks like the Las Vegas strip, with shops instead of casinos," I mused as we soaked in the abundance of neon lights that stretched well into the distance.
Dongdaemun Market is divided into five districts with 26 shopping malls over ten blocks and includes 30,000 speciality shops and 50,000 manufacturers. One of the more unique aspects of this place is that it is traditionally a night market - peaking at around 2am and staying open 18 hours a day until 5am every night.
As we wandered the streets and squeezed through the mass of humanity that had gathered underneath the yellow canvas tents of the vendors that lined the pavement, we soaked in the diverse range of items being sold. Silks, clothes, belts, wallets, handbags, caps, toys and a plethora of street food. There were lots of bargains, plenty of fakes, but no electronics.
We then spotted a building in the distance with "TECHNO" flashing in bright red neon lights. Surely in any language that meant electronic goodies right? We headed towards it, but it was like a mirage in the desert. We went up and down streets and alleys, and around in circles but couldn't manage to locate its elusive entrance. We'd passed an information booth along the way, but stubbornly ignored it and ventured on. It wasn't until we found ourselves circling past the booth for the second time that we took it as a sign that perhaps we should go inside and ask for directions.
"Hi, we're looking for the electronics? Techno?" we pitched to the friendly staff but they looked at us like we were raving mad.
"At this time of the day?" he responded. Sure, he had a point. It was 1:30am by that time, but we figured at a market that stays open until 5am, the time of the day wasn't really going to be an issue.
Sadly we learned that the entire 26 shopping malls were full of fashion, mostly for women, with no electronics to be found anywhere as our quest for gadgets would have to wait for another day.
We said our thankyous and drifted back out into the sea of humanity.
No gadgets, no gizmos, a touch of hyperthermia and a cab ride home that cost us four times as much as the one when we arrived. It wasn't quite the adventure we were expecting, but Seoul's Dongdaemun Market was an adventure not to be missed.