Yep, you read that title correctly. I'm writing about the Hyundai Premium Outlets in Songdo, Incheon, South Korea. Maybe you're thinking to yourself that this seems like quite a departure for us here at Visa-Vis. And I would agree. Neither Zac nor I enjoy shopping and what's more, neither of us need anything. We just replaced some worn clothes while we were in Portland and anything that we purchase means ridding ourselves of another item in our bags. So that purchase better be necessary and useful.
So what, exactly, drove us to walk 40 minutes each direction to the Hyundai Premium Outlets in Songdo, South Korea? I wish I had a better answer than we wanted something to do without getting on public transport. We're house sitting in Songdo and were feeling a bit cooped up. The air quality has been bad and made it so we didn't want to leave the house, but there was a break and things seemed to be clearing up.
So off we went on our little walk and found the shops as promised. The first thing we noticed is there are some pretty high end retailers here - Bottega Veneta, Henry Beguelin, Bally, and on and on. Then there's the usual labels found at these sorts of places - Calvin Klein, Benetton, Ralph Lauren, etc. From the outside this appears to be just like any other outlet mall you've ever been to. Except that the architecture is not the usual American style. It's modern and white and grey, multi-storied and in a big square that loops you around and around and up and up to the other floors. The other thing that makes this different than an American outlet mall; there are shops and restaurants/cafes in the basement. That never happens in the states but underground shopping is totally a thing here in South Korea.
As soon as we arrived our senses were assaulted - there was some sort of all female band dressed in short blue satin shorts with sort-of cowboy hats on playing brass instruments while people dressed in bright yellow smily face orbs and dark leggings danced on. The music was blasting and shoppers with children were standing around apparently loving the entire spectacle. We tried to escape as quickly as possible and head somewhere a little less noisy and a little less filled with people dressed in costume (I sort of have a phobia about costume dressing).
Unfortunately, there isn't much that's quiet about South Korea. At least when it comes to being out in public or shopping. At the grocery store you are assaulted with loud announcements from the fishmonger or meat counter that blare over already excruciatingly loud music. And in some of the stores at the outlet mall, we were met with sales associates yelling about sales or whatever over the loudspeaker and families of people yelling to one another across the aisles. It was an absolute assault on our ears and made for a very interesting shopping experience (we both sort of freaked out and headed for the higher end shops that would certainly not be hawking their wears over the Janet Jackson headset of an employee).
And so it was that we found ourselves in and out of shops both loud and silent and getting into the groove of shopping in South Korea. But then we realized we were thirsty and I remembered hearing there were several good bakeries at the mall. These were elusive to us until we wandered into the subterranean expanse of more stores and what felt like a food court. We sated ourselves with a delightful juice from Joe & the Juice and then followed everyone else's lead and queued for a baked good that we knew nothing about. It turns out the bakery was called SamSong and they made amazing buns of sorts. I indulged in a corn and corn creamed filled delight and Zac had a savory veggie filled bun. These were light as air and both combined cost less than the juice did.
After filling ourselves with these treats and feeling continually overwhelmed by the cacophony of sounds around us, we decided our time was up at the outlet mall and began the walk home. As we were leaving, the line of cars to get into the parking lot was wrapped around the block.