First impressions of Youth Street, Ulsan.

I stumbled upon Youth street whilst reading a blog by Malaysian Flavours. We had been in South Korea for a little under two months and I was working through a bit of a funk. I missed home and I missed the easiness of life in Australia compared to here. I suggested it to Ben as a day trip and now we have been twice and plan to go many more times. I already can see how each trip would bring a new adventure. It ended up being a day of play. I stand by the fact that play is just as important an occupation for adults as it is for children. “Play is a subjective experience of joy and fun, that comes from engaging in freely chosen, intrinsically motivated, self-directed meaningful occupations.”

Youth Street was a breath of fresh air- I felt like a tourist, the same way I feel when I go on holidays. We got the bus from UNIST to Samsan-Dong. It took about half an hour and the entrance to Youth Street is super close to the stop. Youth Street is located in the shopping district of Ulsan, right next to the river. It has lots of shops, cafes and Timezone like game centres.  It is also close by to Story street- where you can see lots of great sculptures and statues. The famous Keunaegi Night market is also very close. We haven’t ventured out into the night yet so this remains on our list. 

When you first walk into Youth Street a humming energy assaults you. People are smiling and meandering, teenagers are laughing coming out of shops, kids are whacking into punching bags to earn a high score or to best each other. It feels fun and light. Our first trip really just consisted of us walking around, shopping and exploring. I did pick out the best Harry Potter slippers ever from SPAO.

We found a restaurant off to the side for lunch. I have been super worried about Ben being able to find vegetarian in restaurants. It’s made more stressful when you’re trying to translate menus. He assures me I shouldn’t worry and to just go with the flow. I find that difficult.

The restaurant we went to had some delicious pork dishes. The only vegetarian option we could see was fried rice, which, Ben said he would be happy with. We did manage to ask the staff for any dish that was meat and seafood free. The waiter seemed to understand and Ben ended up with a delicious bean sprout and vegetable broth. It was spicy but he battled through. My pork was delicious. As was the Cass- which I am coming to love.

After lunch we found (and I am calling this early) one of our go to activities in Ulsan. We walked past a sign that read “Holmes and Lupin Boardgames cafe.”  Intrigued, we entered. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? We walked up the stairs and entered a board game library. Board games of all types lined the walls, all different levels, interests, number of players and ages were accounted for.

We established there was an hourly rate, we just had to buy at least one beverage each and we could play. I was sold. We got a coffee and a game (Jaipur- great and would recommend) and were taken to a cosy room. The setup reminded me of capsule hotels. the rooms weren’t tall enough to stand in. You could kneel and shuffle to fit around low tables with floor cushions. I really enjoyed this. I loved playing a new game and knowing people next to me and above me were also enjoying it. The occasional yelps and squeals of a tight game were infectious. 

We have now been to Holmes and Lupin twice and it’s a great way to try new games without having to buy them. I am also super keen to go back at night and enjoy some fries and maybe a beer. I would 100% recommend this if you ever venture to Youth Street. 

Other highlights of the day included seeing a Gatchapon store. These are actually Japanese in origin. Gatcha describes the hand cranking mechanism, with pon meaning toy. I have seen Gatchapon machines in Australia but never a shop that revolved around them. It was fun to walk around and look at the different ones.

I couldn’t help but think 6 year old Caitlan would have been ecstatic. I got a little bit sad because I also thought my nephew would have loved it and that made me miss him. We didn’t buy anything, but we had stumbled across “random box” machines. These machines ask you to put 5000 Won in, and you are given a random box. Ben got some amazing gel pens and I got a lipstick I would not wish on a six year old girl desperate to dress up. It was horrendous. 

The only down side of the day was that Ben finally tried an egg sandwich from a place called Eggcellent, but it was “too sweet”. He is obviously sweet enough and has no tolerance for unnecessary sugar additives. Especially in breakfast foods. Not Eggxactly what he was after.

Stay tuned for more tales of Youth Street – I am sure there will be plenty. (Hint, it involves a cat cafe!)

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