Seoul: Day 1 Dongdaemum Toys Street
Travel Period : 30 May – 5 June 2017 (Tues – Mon)
7 DAYS 6 NIGHTS IN SEOUL/JEJU ISLAND
From Changdeokgung Palace, we retraced our steps and took the subway from Anguk Station to Dongdaemum Station.
Walking down the long passageway towards the exit of the subway station, we came across a baby nursing room! Since it’s time to change Ling, we spoke into the microphone at the entrance of the room. A muffled voice responded in Korean. We tried the door and it was still locked so we spoke into the device again, thinking they didn’t understand us. Just then, someone came hurrying down the pathway. We turned to look at him and realised it was a staff with a bunch of keys in his hand! The two of us laughed out loud because we thought the door was automated and would unlock by itself (used to this locally).
++ BABY NEEDS – SUBWAY CHANGING ROOM ++
Opening the door, we were surprised to see a huge and well-furnished room with a changing table, sink, nursing sofa behind a wooden wall and even a baby cot! I wondered what was the use of it though. Would a mother let her baby sleep here and wait until he/she wake up? In the meantime, they even provided some magazines to read. At the sofa area, there was a microwave! Alas, one essential item was missing – A dispenser with Hot and Cold Water! We would not be able to make any formula milk without them (nursing is more encouraged?).
EXPLORE TOY MARKET
Walking out of the subway, down a street and making a turn, we stepped into a long street with shops selling stationery and toys on both sides. It was not only one street as there were intersections as you walked down, which divided up into more streets, with more shops. Every one of them was selling toys and stationeries. It’s a kid’s heaven!
We were visiting Dongdaemum market to buy toys and cute stuff but I thought we could also get some street food along the way. Alas, there were no street hawkers as it was in the afternoon, still too early. On asking people around, they say there are no such stalls here and not even further down. Plainly, nobody sells food. What? I guess I got the wrong info then.
We might have been at the wrong place and wrong time for food. I had to apologize to Dar as I didn’t buy him snacks just now when we passed by, thinking we could get it here. He was hungry and barely ate any lunch from the Naengmyeon/bibimbap restaurant just now. (I just checked TripAdvisor and someone commented recently that all the food stalls had been closed in the main Dongdaemum Area. Not sure of the reason).
This became a learning experience for us as the next few days of our trip, we just started buying interesting food along the way if we saw it and eat it as we moved, instead of waiting until proper meal times. (We discovered it was very easy to feel hungry while touring Seoul due to the hilly area walks)
Our reason for coming to the Dongdaemum Toy and Stationery Street Market early, was because we read that they would only open until evening 6pm. Thus, coming at night wouldn’t work. Indeed, while walking towards the Dongdaemum subway after our visit, some of the shops were already closing.
The actual wholesale Dongdaemum Night market further down, is a huge area of shopping malls, street shops with goods such as clothing. They open the whole day until the wee hours of the morning. However, this couldn’t fit into our itinerary if we were planning to get porridge dinner after N Seoul Tower.
THINGS TO BUY
We thought there would be interesting toys/souvenirs to buy from this network of Toy Shops that we would not find in Singapore, but Dar only managed to find one toy of interest after searching around all the shops- a car-robot. Most of them looked like China-made toys and we didn’t like the quality (We don’t even buy them locally).
There were some cute girly toys but Ling was too young to play with them. Also, many toys had no price tags on it so we need to ask the owners and probably do some bargaining. We find that a hassle since we don’t speak Korean – unless it is really something we truly want.
I was attracted to some cute toy doggies and kittens, which would move their head realistically and make sounds when you touched the heads. Ling was so excited and kept pointing to them. Tempted to buy it, I took it up only to discover several “hairs” flying away immediately. Argh, this would not do for a toddler.
If you are not picky like me, you could easily fill up two big shopping bags with toys, like a Caucasian couple standing beside me. I think the toys look exotic to them.
SIMILAR TOYS / KOREAN SOUVENIRS
Walking down the area, many shops were selling the same kind of toys or stationeries. They weren’t attractive or unique enough to catch my eye though. I also found one or two stalls selling Korean Souvenirs but since it was our first day in Seoul, I thought I could find similar items elsewhere and shouldn’t buy them there.
Tip: Do buy them if you see them, or you might end up like me. Didn’t get to visit those places due to schedule changes! Fortunately, I did manage to see the cute magnets again elsewhere and bought them.
It was nearly evening. Our feet were aching and I really needed some rest with snacks. We came across a small shop (only four tables with seats) selling fries, wings, nuggets and bento meals and decided to eat there (TomatoDosirak).
Our plan was to eat porridge for dinner later so I just wanted to eat some snacks. Also, the menu was all in Korean so I wasn’t sure what the meals were made of and if they were suitable for my diet. However, my dad was hungry so he bought a bento meal to try. Language barrier was a slight problem but Vin managed to ask them what the meat was (chicken) after several attempts.
One thing we found touring in South Korea, is that you must really be patient in waiting for the food. We are used to food being served soon after sitting but over there, we could finish our drink and the food is still not served. So we waited for a while for the food and it ate into time for our next itinerary. Fortunately, the food turned out to be delicious.
I’m not sure what they do but the fried foods in South Korea have a certain different taste to it. Was it the oil they used? Wings and fries were really good.
Due to this impromptu break however, we were almost late for the sunset viewing in N-Seoul tower.
There was no more time to walk further down to the wholesale area for the clothing, so we went to the bus stop to take the bus up Namsan, to N-Seoul Tower.
Dongdaemun Stationary Store Street is located in Changsin-dong near Dongdaemun Station, and is a wholesale market selling toys and stationery. Almost 100 stationery stores are packed in the area, selling robots, dolls, play houses, various school supplies, party and event items, stationery, and toys. (Source: VisitKorea)