Streets with Seoul

Ventured up to Seoul for the first time last weekend. Though the temperature dropped greatly in the northern latitude, the pace and surrounding action rose. I also had my first experience at a jimjilbang, which is a bath house/sauna. Here, you can also spend the night at one of these for really cheap. All of the men wear matching green slacks, and all of the women wear matching pink ones, and everyone chooses their spot along a clean, hot wood floor for a several-hour slumber. It felt like we were a bunch of lazy cats, people of all ages sprawled out on the same surface with no blankets or sheets.

The next day, we left the warm, light and comfortable jimjilbang and entered the streets in the middle hour of the morning, around 10:00 AM. We were greeted by grey skies and wet, slushy streets, with people bundled into their buttoned-up jackets, trying to reach their next indoor destination. It kind of felt like home this time of year in the Northeast, in the way it was something I didn’t miss.

After being lost on the subway for some time, and squeezing in between all sorts of different people to explore Seoul’s underworld, we finally made it to a giant market part of town. It features many huge complexes that are divided into levels of garments and accessories.

Outside of these heated and escalator-lined multi-story establishments, the surrounding streets and alleys are lined with all sorts of shops.

I thought the most interesting part of this cold consumer haven was the exotic animal and pet street. We got to witness a ferret fight within a cage, as well as several concentrations of hedgehogs within confined areas .

Some of the stores concentrate on reptiles, where you may see an aerial view of the finest shelled creatures.

Others stocked a variety of fish as well, where you can witness the tanks of slimy, colored scales.

Some stores sold chickens, although I’m not sure how a lifestyle in Seoul would allow chickens, as it seems everyone lives in apartments; I suppose they are for human consumption. It was here I also learned that people keep chipmunks as pets. Of course there were the usual cats and dogs as well.

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