I would like to begin by apologizing for being a slacker. I know everyone has been waiting for this :)
This Thursday morning we were getting ready to explore the infamous AK Plaza said to be the most upscale place to shop. We headed out for the bus stop down the street where we were going to hop on bus 80-1. As we step out of the building we see it stopped. Excited Stacy tries waving it down but the driver says no and continues. It was 30 minutes before we saw another 80-1. Luckily there are 3 bus stops near our house. One of them is a shaded corner stop and if you see the shutterfly site you will notice it's not the cleanest. On this HOT morning it was the best place to wait.
We made it onto our bus, told the driver "AK Plaza" and enjoyed the sites of the ride. Speaking of the ride you must know what its like to drive here. There are NO stops signs. You can pretty much whip a U anywhere. Buses do it just as well as any car. From my observations red lights are optional. Most stop and stay stopped but I have seen motorcyclist, dump trucks, and cars stop at the light and then proceed through it. You don't really see any police around. Lanes seem narrower than in the states and they are 5 deep in one direction. People use their turn signals alot just to tell you "hey I'm squeezing in, deal with it!" Koreans park just about anywhere and apparently as long as you have your hazards on, it makes it okay.
So, AK Plaza is located in the Sunea (Soo-nay) district of Bundang. From what you see everywhere, Koreans are almost always dressed to impress. They like to look nice no matter where they go. To quote a colleague of mine, " running in heels is an olympic sport in Korea." Stacy and I really have to rethink our wardrobe. In the basement level of AK Plaza, you will find the Sunea subway station. The mall has 8 floors intricately interlaced. Check out the pictures (which don't do this place justice) on our shutterfly site.
When we first walked into the mall it was immediate awe. Then the tummy grumbled. We walked out to explore our food choices at each of the exits before exploring the mall. We decided to have....are you ready for it?....Burger King! Yep, you weren't surprised. Ordering was fun! They understood what we wanted. Thank God for our hands and fingers! I had forgotten my Korean phrase book and didn't know how to say "no onions". We got our food (they are quick) and headed upstairs to the 2nd floor eating area and sat near the A/C. When we were done, we took our tray over to the trash. Now, Koreans recycle A LOT. There was a place for you to empty your drink cup and a place for you to stack your used cups. There was a place for you to put your straw and lid and then you could throw your food in the trash. **On a side note, we have 2 trash bags at home that we have to buy, a yellow bag for just food scraps, a pink bag for trash other than glass, metal and plastic. Those items have their own bins at our complex. Side not over** Full tummies means time to digest...
The first floor, which is at above ground level has all the makeup stores like M-A-C, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Shiseido, Lancome, Estee Lauder, etc. Also at this level are purse/luggage stores like Louis Vuitton, Coach, and others. Floors 2 and 3, are devoted to women's clothing. It is not setup like department store either. On each floor, there are sections divided by glass walls displaying the name of the designer featured. ALL of the big names were there such as Vera Wang, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, and so many more that I couldn't remember to save my life. Obviously I don't shop at these places enough to know them on a first name basis. lol! Maybe that will change :). On the 4th floor there was a large, beautifully lit showroom of SHOES! I picked up a pair of rhinestone sandals and the price was 239,000 KRW ($239). Going to have to save for those. Ethan pointed me to a pair of black, peep toe heels that were very stylish. I walked over to look as a salesman was walking my way. I quickly looked at the price for these, a whopping 270,000 KRW. I set them down, grabbed Ethan and walked swiftly in the opposite direction before the salesman could think I was an interested customer.
Floor 4 was men's clothing about the only floor that Stacy didn't think was absolutely pointless. They had some very nice men's clothing. I'm going to have to get Stacy to purchase a few pieces of basics. They had FUBU, Levis, Tommy, and an awesome sports section. Floor 5 was the electronics (more expensive than E-mart), and the food court where there was a drop-your-child-off nursery playground area. Off this floor was a skybridge to the bedding and housewares. Floor 6 was childrens clothing where I wasn't allowed to roam. Floor 7 had a couple of upscale places to eat and have coffee. This is where I took a potty break. The toilet seat had this plastic covering on it. Well I took care of business, turned to flush, saw a red button, pushed it and the plastic covering moved. It was their hi-tech version of sanitary toilet seat covers but you don't have to touch it. I ended up finding the handle to flush. They also had a high powered hand dryer that dries both sides of your hands at the same time. Not to worry, I washed my hands too!
At one point Ethan and I got separated from Stacy and ended up playing hide and seek on the escalators on 3 floors. He was not happy but Ethan sure was! Once we were all reunited, we discussed heading for home but didn't want the trip to end on such a sour note. Stacy had this great idea - ICE CREAM :) On to Baskin Robbins for some Love Struck Strawberry (the kind I ordered). It was so yummy!
Time to go home now. We got back to our bus stop after getting strange looks for running across the street. We were wanting some confirmation that we were at the right stop. I looked at the bus numbers that stopped there and didn't see bus 80-1 so I decided to try my communication skills with some Koreans. Don't get excited I had paper, pen and some hand gestures. Don't know Korean yet. Two young people, girl and a boy were my lucky helpers. I wrote my bus number on it and pointed to here. They went to look the same place I did and said no. They showed me the X with their arms. You get that a lot here. After a little bit of English on their part and some confusing names on my part, the bus suddenly arrived and we were both happy that it did because neither one of us was getting anywhere.
We eventually made it to our neighborhood and I took pictures of the walk home so you could see what all grows there. Check out the shutterfly share site. It's beautiful!