It’s not often that one finds a horticultural oasis inside a bus terminal, but I was lucky enough to find my way to just such a place. The Gangnam Flower Market is located on the third floor of the Express Bus Terminal and is one of my favorite spots I’ve found in Korea.
There are many specialty markets in South Korea- flower markets, fabric markets, fish markets, oriental medicine markets, and on and on. You can go to these shopping meccas to buy items wholesale and in bulk. The Gangnam Flower Market is just one of many flower markets within the city; as it is the only one I have been to so far, I can’t compare it to any of the others. The information I read said that the market was open from early morning to approximately two in the afternoon. However, I was there at noon, and they were already starting to shut down. The vendors were covering some of the flowers, and they actually turned off the lights as I was working my way to the exit. I will definitely return at an earlier hour to see the market in its full glory. I was in awe of the little I saw, so I can’t imagine being there just as the market opens.
I knew I was getting close to the market because I could smell it. It is an enclosed market, taking up an entire floor of the bus terminal and has glass doors at the entrance. My nose starting getting excited a floor below the market because the scent was so strong and delightful. It was even better inside, an olfactory heaven. You know the amazing smell of a dozen roses? Imagine tens of thousands of roses.
The part of the market I explored mainly had cut flowers, but I was unable to investigate the entire premises before they turned the lights out. The flowers were either grouped in huge bouquets and stuffed into plastic bins or laying in stacks on tables. They were everywhere; there were walls of flowers; flowers flowing out of buckets; flowers scattered on the floor. Roses of every color (including varieties I’ve never seen before), carnations, hydrangeas, daisies, sunflowers, irises, orchids, gardenias, tulips, and flowers that I couldn’t even identify. There were mounds of greenery- eucalyptus, ivy, ferns, and even pine branches.
About every four or five feet was a new booth with its own specialty flower. The workers would either smile and nod or completely ignore me. No one stopped me from snapping dozens of pictures and breathing in the wonderful aroma. As they were closing up, the vendors were simply covering their remaining goods with newspaper. One woman was energetically ripping petals off of crimson roses; the petals went into a bucket, and the stems were thrown on the floor. I did not make any purchases because so many of the booths were closing; so I cannot say how much a bouquet from the market costs. I doubt the cost would be enough to prevent me from bringing home fresh blossoms anyway!
In addition to the flowers, the market also had hundreds of baskets, vases, and ribbon for sale. You have to arrange those flowers somehow, right? Even though I saw the market as the excitement was ending and didn’t come home with any flowers, I thoroughly enjoyed the visit. As a bonus, I smelled marvelous for the rest of the day! I’ll definitely be returning and going to visit other flower markets.
PS: Any flower lovers out there? I snapped this picture of a neighborhood plant when I first arrived in Korea. I sent the picture to my mom, and neither of us could identify it; though it looks to be related to an amaryllis. The picture doesn’t show it well, but the stalk goes up about a foot before it flowers. Please let me know if you know the name of this awesome plant!