Really, I did have a plan today. But, as has been the case, I got side-tracked. For this vacation, I have now adopted the motto “the plan is that there is no plan”…well, except for July 10th as there is definitely a plan for THAT day!
Today, I thought I was going to visit the oldest market in Seoul, Namdaemun Market. Back in the Joseon Dynasty days, there were eight historical gates that were located in the fortress wall surrounding the city. Namdaemun was the south gate. I wanted to check out this historical landmark which apparently was just restored this past May after an arsonist set it on fire back in 2008. This gate is a national treasure in Seoul so I put it on my list of things to see while I was here. The Namdaemun Market holds some significance as well. It is Seoul’s oldest and largest market. Double historical bonus. Plus you never know what treasures you will find while shopping a traditional market, right?
Well, that was the plan. Instead, I set on a hunt to find Star Avenue. Sevgi, a fellow Rain fan sent me a text message that simply said “look where I went,” along with a picture. That was enough to tempt me into wanting to check out this Star Avenue because this appeared to be something Rain-related. I had to go. Now, if you have never been to Seoul, then you most likely are not familiar with Lotte World department stores. I figured it would be like any other department store – I mean, being from Chicago I was aware of the department store thing having grown up with Marshall Field’s and Carson’s, right?
Oh no….no, no and no. See that picture up there? Yeah, that is what you can expect when you visit a Lotte World. I decided that Lotte World is more than just shopping. It is an experience. My experience landed me being thusly reprimanded for taking a picture of well…this:
Who puts a silk ribbon on a cantalope??? The Koreans do, that’s who! OMG, I loved this so much I HAD to take a picture and I got the smack down from the ahjumma police patrolling the area. Oh, a word to the wise, you have NOT had the full K-experience until you get a good screaming at by an ahjumma! So, I get the reprimand from A-1 for taking a picture and then get a scolding from A-2 for…well, I am still not sure why I got scolded by A-2! We both ended up shrugging our shoulders and I went on my way. LOL!!
Ok, where was I? Yes, Lotte World. Star Avenue. I go to Lotte World in search of Star Avenue. What is Star Avenue? It is a little walk of fame, as it were, kind of, sort of honoring Hallyu stars of which Rain was included. In my search for Star Avenue, I got lost in a labyrinth of designer bags, cosmetics, and rabid shoppers. Shopping here is a contact sport! You have to be prepared to bob and weave at all times! After circumnavigating the area and contemplating a Kiehl’s blowout, I finally found an information desk. The gorgeous information gal could not speak English but drew me a precise diagram to find Star Avenue…turn right at the Coach counter, walk down the hall past the elevators, and take a right out the door and voila, Star Avenue.
And then I found what I came for…. I found Rain.
When you lightly pressed your hand into his hand print, there was a monitor directly above the display that played a message from Rain. I was unable to hear the message, but I watched it a few times, just to see him and try to grab a couple of pictures.
Perhaps the sweetest thing about Star Avenue is the wall of stars. Thousands of them hanging on the wall, each with a wish written upon them. You choose the star you would like to wish upon and I probably missed the point of the whole thing because I did not make a wish for something for myself which is probably what you should do. No, my message was to simply wish Rain happiness, success and love. I signed it, and hung it on the wall. So fangirly, right? Well, let me tell you that two ahjummas waiting behind me both wished upon Rain too! I think Rain has the natural ability to ignite the fangirl in anyone who is in touch with their inner fangirl, no matter how young or old! Here is my star wish hanging upon the Star Avenue wall for forever more…..♥
Part of the fun of this were the young guys working the area who helped procure the star wishes. Along with the star came this coupon that you had to fill out (if you wanted) and drop into a box for a drawing. I don’t know what you win if your coupon is chosen but I did put in a request to the young man there that should my coupon be drawn, I am requesting dinner with Rain. He said he that would be a good prize! I think our language barrier prevented him from truly explaining what a winning coupon would beget! If I win, I will let you know!
My Star Avenue visit was then complete. I made my way back into Lotte World to explore. This is not your every day run of the mill department store. Where else can you pick up a Louis Vuitton bag and then turn the corner and buy anything from a sea vegetable to fresh produce? Lotte World blew my mind.
Isn’t it just spectacular??? I think Walmart needs to rethink a few things!!
I did not get to Namdaemun, but I will. Instead I got to fangirl it up at Star Avenue and experience the wonder that is Lotte World. Not a bad day. Since I am moving to Yongsan-gu tomorrow in prep for Rain’s discharge on Wednesday, I am going to check out the War Museum which sits directly across the street from DEMA.
But before I close, I have to share this shot I took while waiting for the train at one of the Metro stations. The system here is extraordinary. This is how I have been navigating the city since I arrived and I cannot say enough about its efficiency. In addition to that, the stations are immaculate and high tech.
I am here six days now and I feel like a native. Seoul is just that comfortable, welcoming and friendly.