Seoul in a few photos

11 Sep

Friends, I realise it's time to roll up our sleeves and give you an update. We're now in Seoul, a city that is nothing like I expected. But it's one week in, and I only have a breezy first impression. So, let's do a bullet list!

* Seoul is the city children across the world unknowingly make drawings of. Though the architecture is at times more exiting, the overall impression of large parts of this city is of cookie cutter type buildings. But there's also the frequent contrast between temples and skyscrapers.

* It's smart. Like the stands with umbrella locks provided outside buildings on rainy days, the child seat for toddlers in special toilets for mothers, the free translation hotline advertised in taxis you may call if your taxi driver only speaks Korean. Or if the restaurant of your choice is full, there's the piece of paper hung by the door where you simply sign your name and number of people to keep easy track of the queue and allow you to do something else for the next few minutes than ogle the people at the table you want. And it's the clean public toilet just there where you need it, neatly advertised on the main road.

* It's tech-savvy. Everyone has smart phones – and everyone seems to pull them out when on the metro (free wifi!). The coolest kids even sport antennas so that they may properly watch TV while whiling away their time between stations.

* It's plastic. This is the plastic surgery capital of the world. Plastic surgery ads are everywhere. It seems easier to spot the young people who have yet to go under the knife than to spot the ones who have.

* It's incredibly stretched out. Thankfully, so is the metro – just make sure to bring your Kindle or smart phone to pass those next 40 minutes somewhat sensibly. Or you can sleep…

* It's safe. It's impeccably clean. Everyone's well dressed. We're the scruffiest people in town. Contrary to South East Asia, no one wears flip flops. We do (and people stare at the 1EUR bargain I picked up in Indonesia).

* It's shopping. I thought Bangkok was overwhelming – but compared to Seoul, the Thai capital seems almost limited. Though if you're a European size 38/M or larger, there will be no trousers and only a few skirts for you in this city. It's also surprisingly uniform. Much of the fashion (except the itty bitty skirts) is similar to the Scandinavian style. Though I am struck by how an entire city appears to have agreed on the colours beige, blue, cream-white, green as well as navy stripes.

* It's coffee. Everywhere. Everywhere you go, there's a coffee shop, or a block lined with them. Perhaps because people crave caffeine alongside their 12hour work days or because apartments are notoriously small and it might be easier and preferable to meet friends at a cafe.

* It's tasty. Wonderful, wonderful food – as long as you steer clear of all that pickled stuff. Or bring a boyfriend who happily eats it for you.

 
A quick word on what's next:

We've now finally planned the next few months of our journey. Although it seemed to have no end in January and Asia really was our limitless oyster, we're now drawing closer to the point where we would actually like to see it end.

So. Our plan now is to spend another two weeks in South Korea, then we'll be in wacky Japan for three weeks before we leave Asia altogether and go to New York (hurrah!) as a slight detour before we finally head back to Europe again – which should be at some point in November.

 

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