We’ve been here almost a week – and I’m still amazed at the stuff I see/hear/do here in Seoul. This is one incredible city. In fact – I’m beginning to think that it rates right up there with Laos for coolest place to visit. There are great museums, wonderful parks, excellent shopping, and friendly people. What’s not to love?
And it’s easy on the tourist. The food is great, the place is clean – there are lots of toilets – and no you don’t have to stay in hostels – there are lots of very fancy hotels if that is what makes you happy. And the shopping is so good – we’ve run into tons of Japanese who come here just for that.
Anyway – enough of the Seoul travel agent – here’s a list of some more cool stuff about Seoul.
1. There’s music on the metro. They use different tunes at each station to announce an incoming train. It’s rather neat.
2. Shop keepers will sometimes give you free tastes – this lady was determined we try 2 each of her cookies – and even gave a bag full to take with. They were great for lunch – and we’ll drop back tomorrow to get some for the ‘road’.
3. I’ve mentioned before and I’ll mention again. It’s amazingly clean. We were even here on garbage day – so yes – there were piles of garbage on the street when we went to bed – but it was neatly stored in bags – and gone by morning. But it’s not the lack of garbage – it’s the lack of trash in general. People don’t drop stuff on the floor – I saw a lady on the metro turn around and dust off her seat when she got up! She was leaving and cleaning up. It’s a bit hard to find garbage cans – but it might be that I don’t recognize the pattern yet. Oh – and they are big on recycling – even in the hostels.
4. There are no sidewalks on lots of streets. The major streets have huge sidewalks that are beautifully paved (and they get snow here – pay attention Montreal) – but off the main drags – the streets are extremely narrow (one parked car, one moving car – max) – and there are no sidewalks.
5. Water filters are everywhere – hot and cold. It’s neat.
6. It’s not super common – but you will see severely bent over elder men and women. Jill thinks it’s the lack of dairy in the diet – and I have to say – I don’t see milk, yoghurt, or even cheese really. Plenty of protein, lots of fruit and veggies for sale – but diary is not that common. That said – the younger Koreans don’t seem to suffer from the problem – so it could also be from the restrictions during the Japanese occupation. Hard to tell, and of course – impossible to ask.
7. Cross walks are not at the corners on the major streets. Instead they are up a bit – about 5 car lengths. This gives cars room to get right up to the intersection – and I think makes it a lot safer for pedestrians. I’m impressed – Good idea there, Korea.
8. I knew that Cherry Blossom time would be done when we got here – but no one warned me about the Azalea Season. The flowers are simply outstanding. I’ve attached on of my favorite shots – Jill in front of a Japanese maple (red leaves) and a flowering Azalea. It doesn’t get close to capturing the size of the azalea bushes – they can be easily house size – but it does capture the wealth of color.
9. Last but not least – no one ever mentioned Rush Hour. The term ‘Moving against the Tide’ so richly describes the impact of attempting to get to a metro car just as the car has arrived at the station. The flood of humanity that leaves the cars has to be seen to be believed. There is literally nothing you can do but put your back to a wall and wait. Once the flood passes – you can continue moving forward. I’ve been in Japan and seen rush hour there – and I’m telling you. This is impressive.
So that’s it for now – after we visit the DMZ tomorrow – we head out of Seoul for the country side. I’m sure there are more surprises in store.
Signing off – The Soup Lady and her side-kick – the Intrepid Traveller.