On day 3, we took a KTX (Korea Train Express) train to Daegu to visit relatives. Daegu is the 4th largest city in Korea (after Seoul, Busan, and Incheon), and it's where two of my great-aunts live.
Train Station = Huge!
We took a taxi in the morning to the Seoul train station, and it's a huge building with shops, fast food, and an outlet mall along with the actual trains. Huge billboards and screens plaster the walls with advertisements for Samsung and LG smartphones.
Bullet Train = Fast!
It was my first time on a bullet train. With a top speed of 305 km/h (190 mph), it only took a couple hours to cross almost the entire country (Seoul near the northwest corner, Daegu near the southeast corner).
On the way, we got some great views of the countryside. Rice fields were everywhere. But what was surprising is that right next to the rice fields were huge, tall apartment complexes that you usually only see in cities! With no city or business around them, it seemed very odd. My Mom told me that because land area is precious, they build housing up to make room for more farmland.
Upon arrival at Daegu, we took a taxi to my great-aunt's condo. The taxi driver had a medal displayed on the dash. When asked about it, he said he got the medal for having no accidents. But the way he drove seemed to imply the opposite: he drove like a maniac!
Traditional Korean Lunch
We met up with my great-aunts and went to a traditional Korean lunch. It started with a porridge-like soup to start, followed by a course of japchae with banchan, then a course of bulgogi with more banchan. We finished with a sweet rice drink. The image below is only of the first course--by the time we were done, there were 3x more dishes on the table.
Dongdaemun Wholesale Market = Crazy!
That night, we went with my cousin-aunt to Dongdaemun Market. At night from 11 PM to around 6 AM, wholesale markets open for business, and merchants from all over the country travel here to buy merchandise for their stores at wholesale prices. There's also the opportunity for shoppers like us to get those deals too, so we were there from midnight to 3 AM!
Every market was filled with booth after booth, each with a different brand of clothes. As I walked through, you can hear energetic pop music playing from many booths, ranging from k-pop to Beyoncé. Plastic bags full of clothes line the hallways, which make them narrow and crowded. Everywhere you see merchants with huge bags and notepads walking quickly through the crowds. If you're the kind of person that feels like they're always in the way of other people in busy places, this place is not for you, because you will be in the way of people, all the time. I'm one of those people, and it was hard not to get stressed out.
Another thing we soon found out is that the wholesalers aren't actually interested in selling most of their clothes direct to customers like us. Which makes sense, since that would make their merchant customers unhappy. Only sale racks were really available for purchase. Even so, we were able to find some great deals.