Last night I went to the Dongdeamun Market here in Seoul looking to buy myself a big backpack to take on my trip. This place is pretty crazy. Dongdaemun Stadium is the name of the subway stop and yes, there is a large baseball stadium there.
There are also over 20 shopping malls and the main malls are open from 10AM to 5 AM everyday. These aren't your usual shopping malls with different shops clearly separated by borders such as walls. No, instead each floor is designated to a certain type of item (last night I was on the bags, hats, and accessories levels) and there are no actual stores, just shelves and products arranged in a maze-like fashion.
The other cool thing is that the two malls I went in last night (Hello aPM and Migliore) have no set prices. You ask the clerk how much something costs and then you bargain with them. This can be easy or difficult depending on the clerk.
My first stop was Migliore. I wandered around aimlessly until I stumbled across some big backpacks. I wanted the bag to be at least 60 liters. The first clerk handed me a 45 liter bag so I told him I wanted a bigger one. He told me "45 is big enough. Very big bag. Big enough." Sorry there buddy, but no it ain't big enough.
The second guy found me a 60 liter bag and told it would cost 50,000 Won. It looked alright so I told him I might be back in a bit because I wanted to go check out some other shops. Then he got all pissy with me saying "If you go and come back I won't remember you. I can't remember every foreigner." Then he stormed away before I had a chance to tell him to go to hell.
Man, he was a whiny bitch.
With that encounter I decided I wasn't buying anything from this store and headed to Hello aPM. This place is the same deal as the other mall so I found the floor with bags and started hunting. I saw a 65 liter bag and the clerk told me it would cost 80,000 Won. I told him that the other mall had the same bag for 50,000 Won so he thought for a few seconds and said "Okay, 50."
That seemed too easy so then I told him that I wasn't gonna pay fifty for it because I could walk to the next mall and get it for fifty. I told him I would pay him 40,000 and if not, I'd just go back to Migliore buy for fifty over there.
He thought for a few seconds and said "Okay, 40."
Once again this seemed too easy but I decided not to push my luck. In hindsight, I should've kept going until he said something like "No lower" but I didn't. I was satisfied with what I'd accomplished.
So I left the market area and stopped by a bar I occasionally frequent. This is the bar my friend Sonny worked at.
As soon as I walk in there's a Korean dude who I recognized from New Year's Eve. He remembered me (I'm a white guy... very easy to remember) and told me to sit and help him and his friend drink a 26er of Jack Daniels. No problem!
I look behind the bar and I see another familiar face and a few seconds later I realize that it's a guy who was at Sonny's wedding. He was still completing his mandatory military service at that time but now he's done and he's working at the Red Dog.
He tells me his nickname is Tarot because he likes Tarot cards. He takes out his deck and asks me to choose one card.
The card I pulled out was called something like the "6 of Lovers." I can't remember the exact card. He looks at it for a minute and tells me "Tomorrow you will be very happy and have a really good day."
I'm thinking to myself "Awesome but I bet it'll be like any other day."