Walking along the streets of Seoul can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, such is the visual noise generated by a million neon signs all screaming for your attention. Combined with the massive hordes of crowds at certain hours and it can be quite a disorienting, if not an exciting experience all the same.
There’s something about neon lights that never cease to allure my eyes and from my travels, I’ve found three main places where they shine brightest in Seoul: Gangnam, Sincheon (above) and Myeongdong (below). Cheonggyecheon stream is also beautifully lit up at night but with a more relaxed romantic atmosphere.
Myeongdong is mainly full of trendy clothes shops for young people while Sincheon is more focused on bars and restaurants (and dodgy looking motels). Gangnam is a business area lined with shining office buildings (and cool Media Poles). If you only have time to visit one, go to Myeongdong – it’s by far the most interesting and a fascinating area to people watch (if you know any other good spots please leave a comment).
UNIQLO (from Japan) seem to have new stores appearing all over the place – one just opened near me in Coastal City and for a foreign brand, they’re quite reasonably priced. The shot above was taken outside the COEX mall in Jamsil.
In some parts of Seoul, the mayor is apparently trying to clean up the streets by curbing the lights and baring roadside vendors. Urban gentrification is something I abhor; the sights and smells are what give an area its nature and by removing them you remove the very heart of its existence.
If the lights get a bit much for you there still exist a few sanctuaries of calm and tranquillity within the megalopolis. Bongeun-sa temple exists in a sort of temporal warp between ancient and modern Korea, nestling between countless high-rise offices and shops. It’s amazing its managed to survive the onslaught of construction and is the perfect oasis to take a moment to relax and reflect on a warm evening.
Whist sitting here listening to the chanting of the monks I thought back over previous trips to Korea – it was my fourth time in South Korea and whilst I doubt I’ll be returning again for a while my memories are the best souvenir with my blog a visual reminder of the great experiences and wonderful places visited. A strangely fitting ending to the best episode yet.