Anyhoo, the first thing I did was go to the Olleh kiosk to rent a portable WiFi device (http://roaming.kt.com/renewal/eng/wibro/rental.asp). If you do ever go to Korea, having this WiFi device is very useful. You can reserve one online. I didn't and I worried that they were going to run out but they didn't. You grab a number from the machine and wait 'til your number is called. They speak English, which makes the process of renting easy. They photocopy your passport and your credit card and you sign a form. They charge your card when you return it at the airport. FYI, you return it to the same place you picked it up at arrivals not, as I thought, at the Olleh kiosk at the departure terminal. Wasted so much time in line.
Then I headed to the bus terminal to go to my friend's house. I had researched buses beforehand and it cost KRW 12,000 which is around $12 AUD. It was a pretty nice bus and it took a little less than an hour to reach Seohyun Station, which is where my friend lives.
I got off the bus and I was trying to get to AK Plaza to meet my friend and there was a footbridge. With stairs. And I'm weak and I was struggling to carry my luggage up the stairs. When I was half way up the stairs, some lovely old man carried it up the rest of the way for me. He was saying some things in Korean which I did not understand. When we reached the top of the stairs he gave me my bag and walked briskly away. I hope I remembered to say thank you.
I KakaoTalked my friend and told him I arrived earlier than expected and tried to figure out a meeting place. I had no idea where a good place to meet would be so I ended up on some sort of walkway above the road. This is the view from where I just decided to wait:
After my friend met me somewhere near AK Plaza, we walked through the plaza itself. It was such a fancy shopping centre. Lots of high end brands like Prada. I showered and got dressed because we were headed out to Gangnam for food (FYI, did not hear Gangnam Style the whole time I was there XDDD) and meet a couple of other friends living in Korea right now.
Look at the super clean subway!
So the first drink that I had when I arrived in Korea was Starbucks. Naturally. It was November so they were selling Christmas drinks which I did buy. A cold one because I was sweating so much. Too many layers.
We then head to Mies Container in Gangnam for dinner. The first thing that my friends told me about this place is that there are only male staff and that they're supposed to be good looking. I only got to see the one waiter up close so I don't know if that is correct. My friends eat at Mies a lot so I'll have to trust them on this! Here's a CNN article about it.
It's an industrial themed (I guess?) fusion restaurant. Lots of cheese and lots of potatoes and relatively cheap once the bill was split between 4 people. Very busy and noisy and had very low light but a really good vibe to it. I wasn't really hungry so I didn't eat a lot which I regret because I didn't get to check it out again during my time in Korea.
Look at that pretty, artsy thing in Gangnam.
We then headed to E-Mart because my friend needed to buy extra bedding because we were all staying at his place that night.
So E-mart is amazing. It has everything. Food, drink, alcohol, bedding, clothes AND it's open 'til midnight. MIDNIGHT, you guys. I know we have some K-Mart stores that are 24 hours but they don't have the huge range of products that E-mart does. Bedding bought we headed back to my friend's place, via taxi, and relaxed and warmed up a little.
My friend lives near AK Plaza, a huge shopping centre, and surrounding it are a myriad of other stores and restaurants. At around 2am, in the freezing cold, we headed out to Angel-in-us Coffee, a Korean brand cafe, for random late night drinks. Korean coffee, in general, I don't really like it. Not as good as Australian coffee.
And then off to a convenience store and look at that cheap soju. That 1, 200 won is about 1 dollar something AUD. In Sydney that would be 12 or 15 bucks a bottle. Yeah. Unfair! I purchased a litre bottle of Cass beer (not pictured, surprisingly) and I was carded! I had no idea what they were saying (and after this experience I tried to learn the Korean words for I.D.) and my friend was like, "She wants you to show your ID". I showed her my passport and yay beer purchased. I want to say it cost maybe 5, 000 won. In any case, it was super cheap and it's the only reason I bought it.
And odeng! At 2-ish in the morning in winter was awesome. So good. I wish we had carts open that late in Sydney. I'm planning on visiting Korea again in the summer and I wonder if odeng is only a winter thing. Hopefully not, because I wants to eat more!
Then we headed back and after changing and washing my face I collapsed onto the newly bought bedding and slept!
To Be Continued!