We started our morning by going to Yeouido Park, which was located in the middle of Seoul’s business district. Stopped by at a nearby Coffee Bean to grab some coffee and sandwiches. Actually I would rather get something at a local coffee joint, but since it was a non-working day, most shops were either closed or opening late.
Enjoying our breakfast while watching kids playing basketball.
World Cup fever is here! The Nike Cup Seoul was going on.
Many school kids (like those in pink skirts and green pants) could be seen walking around.
These middle-school students were having an outdoor art class. See the guy in grey suit? That’s their teacher.
A young and upcoming artist ;-)
The park lanes were divided into two - grey lane for bikes, green lane for pedestrians. Pjot, you are in the wrong lane!
South Korean flag flying high and proud.
A big “Yeouido Park” sign by the roadside, surrounded by rosebushes.
We then took the subway to COEX, a huge department store. Didn’t do much shopping here as we wanted to do that in Myeongdong later tonight.
Then we went to Itaewon, probably the most international district in Seoul. That’s the Itaewon archway marking the entrance.
If you come to Itaewon via Seoul City Bus, the buy will stop somewhere opposite of Hard Rock Café.
It was easily the smallest Hard Rock Café outlet I’ve been to. When we went there, they were having a clearance sale as they were closing down for repairs. Too bad I didn’t find anything that I like (most stuff were slow-moving leftover goods).
We were both so hungry so we had lunch at the first halal restaurant that we saw.
I really wanted to go to Seoul mosque, which was located at the area. Pjot had been there before, but she couldn’t recall precisely how to get to the mosque. After walking quite a distance into the area, we were ready to give up. Suddenly we saw a couple of girls in red shirts and straw hats with big letter “i” - a universal symbol for information. Bingo! Actually these girls serve as walking information counters. They wander around Itaewon to assist tourists and local publics alike. So if you can’t find the place you were looking for, just stop them and they’ll be happy to help you out.
Say kimchi! No kidding, she told me to say that!
She gave us a detail map of Itaewon and pointed us to where the mosque was. It was only a couple of junctions away from where we stood. The streets led us a bit uphill as the mosque perched on the hilly side of Itaewon.
Seoul Central Mosque - How to get there?
Once you get out of Itaewon subway station, look for Hard Rock Café. Make sure Hard Rock Café is across the road to your left, then only start walking up the main road. You will pass by Starbucks on your right. Walk further up till you see a right juction next to Dunkin Donuts (the one in the earlier photo, downstairs to the halal restaurant where I had lunch). Turn right into the juntion and walk uphill. You will pass by many Muslim owned shops. Turn into the second junction on your left where there is an Islamic bookstore. Walk further up, passing by many more Muslim businesses, and your will see the grand entrance to the mosque on your left.
Entrance to Seoul mosque complex at Itaewon. From here it was quite a steep climb up to reach the building.
A madrasah in front of the mosque.
Directions to get around the mosque complex.
Entrance to women’s wudu area.
The main prayer hall.
Beautiful mosaics decorated the inner walls.
There were several posters on Islam displayed around the complex.
This one was on the 25 prophets.
Seoul mosque, the pride on Korean’s Muslim community.
We did our Zuhur and Asar jama prayers at the mosque, hence we could continue exploring the city without having to rush back to the hotel to perform our prayers and go out again. As we were about to leave the mosque, we were stopped by several teenage girls in school uniforms. They wanted to interview us for their History class homework. The questions were simple - where do you come from, why do you come to Korea, what do you like best about the country etc. The fact that they tried their best to make themselves understood in English really impressed me. It mustn’t be easy for them to approach some strangers and do that.
The cute Korean schoolgirls.
From the mosque, we returned to the main street to catch the next Seoul City Tour bus. As we passed by the streets near the mosque, we saw many Muslim owned businesses around i.e. halal restaurants, halal grocery shops and halal bakeries. There were also an Islamic book store and a Muslim style clothing store. It was nice to know that living an Islamic lifestyle in Seoul should be easy with all these around.
Clockwise: A kebab joint, an Indian restaurant, a bookstore and a grocery shop.
Clockwise: A grocery shop, a bakery, an electronics shop and a restaurant.
Clockwise: A bakery, a Turkish restaurant, a grocery shop and a laundry.
Clockwise: A restaurant, a Muslim clothing store, a bakery and another restaurant (upstairs).
Who say Muslims can’t find anything to eat in Seoul? They obviously haven’t been to Itaewon! Anyway, while waiting for the bus, I saw something familiar across the street.
A Malaysian flag in Korea!
On board the bus towards our next destination - Myeongdong shopping district.
To be continued…