Incheon is a city about an hour west of Seoul, and also the location of the international airport. But it’s also home to Korea’s largest (and only official) Chinatown. Why would you want to go to a Chinatown in Korea, you may be asking if you’re even reading this but you probably aren’t whoever YOU ARE.
Anyway, I wanted to go specifically because I heard through the grapevine also known as YouTube that this is like the premiere place to get ye a bowl of that good-good jjajangmyeon.
WHAT IS JJAJANGMYEON you might be asking and look maybe it’s time that you utilize that Siri or Google bullshit. And this is where Henry reminds me that I have chased all my blog readers away with my poor attitude, so fine I’ll tell you what jjajangmyeon is….in another post. Because this post is about killing time before the jjajangmyeon.
It took about 2 hours to reach Incheon’s Chinatown by subway (several transfers were necessary and then there was that whole bit where Henry left me on a train platform) but overall, it was relatively easy to figure out how to get there (and by that I mean I let Henry and Chooch look at the maps and I followed them blindly with outstretched hands while wobbling to and fro with big dumb glasses on my big dumb face).
The gate is pretty much right outside the station (which I also believe was the last stop): so um, you really can’t miss it. Even I could see it!
The downside to this excursion was that it was raining off and on. Plus, we had arrived just a bit too early so nothing was really open yet, but we did find a nice little garden area to take refuge and get our bearings.
You can tell even from far away that my eye was jacked!
A tour group arrived as we were chilling here and at the same time, it stopped raining. Suddenly, everything came to life in Chinatown!
It was so gloomy all day, but I liked the vibe. It matched my eye-pain-inducing CLOUD ABOVE MY HEAD.
We did some lunch pre-gaming by swiping some Hwadok Mandu. The vendor seemed impressed when I ordered mine and said “hobak” instead of “pumpkin.” I KNOW MY FOOD WORDS, OK. Henry got red bean and I already forget which one Chooch got. Apparently, the lines for this vendor get quite long so I was no longer that mad about that rain. I expect things to be crowded when I’m traveling, but we had this whole little town almost entirely to ourselves and it was bizarre yet wonderful. Especially when we got to Fairytale Village!
If there is one thing Korea loves, it’s murals and cartoon kitsch. There was no rhyme or reason for this section of Chinatown, and it actually felt pretty out of place, but goddamn if we didn’t peruse every last street and alley and take those photo spots up on their offers!
At first, Chooch was kind of like, “This is dumb…” but then he kept finding random dog murals.
The freshly wetted paths and gray skies added an extra layer of creepiness! Like some unsettling Slovakian horror fantasy. At times, you could almost forget that you were even in Korea. I
Just, you know, straddling a giant Pinocchio in Chinatown, nothing to see here.
Now I kind of wish this was in my living room. I’ve been looking for years for an adequate couch-substitute and this might actually replace my strong desire for a vintage bumper car TV-watching vessel. Just put some throw pillows down on his legs and get cozy, friends!
I’m not sure Henry was very enchanted by this.
Brookline needs to jazz up the town with some whimsical fiberglass tree things. I’ll mention it at the next town hall.
Well, then Chooch found this Bambi thing and freaked out. I don’t know what it is with him and Bambi, but Korea is the perfect place for him because Bambi just happens to pop up everywhere?!
All over Korea, you will see trucks peddling food (like eggs and produce) while announcing their wares in a trance-like cadence over a megaphone. This particular guy was vending tofu.
All those lifestyle Instagrammers would have a field day here with ALL THE WALLS OMG. SUCH CONTENT.
I allowed photos even though I was wearing my hideous glasses.
Even Korea’s sewer grate things are excelsior.
More Bambi, inexplicably.
동화마을 = Fairytale Village (Dong-hwa maeul)
I guess I can’t hate on Chooch’s Bambi fascination too hard because I am definitely into Alice in Wonderland. I was excited when we came across this but it turns out it was just a trick eye museum and we did one of those last year in Insadong.
And you know what they say about trick eye museums: if you’ve been to one…
why? you’ve been to ’em all.
ANOTHER FUCKING BAMBI.
So many possible captions here.
Anyway, that was the first part of our visit to Incheon’s Chinatown. Oh! We also went to a little sock shop because Chooch and I are obsessed with Korean socks (THEY ARE FUCKING CUTE AND CHEAP AND ACTUALLY GOOD QUALITY). When Henry was paying, he noticed some old-ass cellphone on the counter and thought it belonged to the lady who had been in line in front of him so he grabbed it and called after her but the cashier was like “yo bro that’s a pop-socket display, put it down!” except he said that in Korean and Chooch and I were like, to each other, “omg he is so embarrassing.” That was the catchphrase of this trip, definitely.
Anyway, the next part will be about how we finally got our jjajangmyeon which will include an explanation of said jjajangmyeon in case you haven’t already googled that shit.