It's been about six weeks in and I have a couple observations about Seoul, Korea, both good and bad. I will not include stuff that involves Jackie because, obviously, that is all good. This is simply observations about the city itself. First, the good!
- Korean barbecue is super tasty. It is inexpensive and the whole experience is unique. You sit at a table that has a small pit in the middle. They bring over some coals and a special grill thing and you cook up the meat you ordered. It also comes with Korean specialties like kimchi. I really dig it.
- Public transit: It would be impossible for me to see Jackie without public transit. Seoul has a great mass transit system. I do not have a car here (and, even though it seems like I could get one pretty easily, I do not want to drive in this city), but I have no real trouble getting around because, between the buses and subways, I can get anywhere I need. Plus, the stops are announced in English. That greatly helps me when I am out and about.
- Paying bills at ATMs: Yep, you can totally do that here.
- Low utility costs: In Portland I was happy to pay "low" utility bills. But here, the bills are ridiculously low. It was a pleasant surprise.
- Low taxes and more benefits: Here, I pay considerably less taxes than in the US but I also get national health insurance. That is a great deal more than in the US. I got a splint at the hospital without insurance in Portland and now owe nearly $1000...
- There are a ton of hiking opportunities in Seoul. The city seems to merge with the local mountains, which are covered with trees. From nearly anywhere, you are close to a good hike in the mountains.
- The city is safe. I mean, really safe.
- People here drive like they are INSANE. Motorcycles drive on sidewalks, the wrong way on roads, in between lanes. Whoa. Everyone cuts each other off, and big time. Buses are driven the most aggressively. I have seen buses cut off other cars without care. And one day I was on a bus where a truck cut us off badly and the bus driver tracked him down, walled in his truck with the bus and proceeded to get out and yell at the guy. I was just trying to get to work!
- People stare at you and it is weird...
- The city smells horrible. Half the time I smell sewage and the other half I smell car fumes. People also put their trash out to be picked up and it sits there for some time. I do not see too many dumpsters or curb side trash cans. So, if I am allowed to add another half to my two already stated, half the time it smells like trash.
- It is strange to walk around and see CCTV signs literally everywhere. That stands for Closed Circuit Television. You live here and you are constantly under surveillance. Every once in awhile that idea gets stuck up in my brain and I it starts to bother me. Then I find something to help me relax. (Ha, ha, just kidding)
- I no longer have a car and I live in an apartment near other people, so I can not sing really loudly like I used to. Over long car trips (or anything over a couple minutes really) I would always sing and put on my own personal concerts for myself. Now everyone can hear me and get mad. If I sing it has to be relatively quiet. And that is not fun.
- It tend to feel frustrated when I am unable to be understood. Here, in a place where many people speak no English, I am commonly not understood. Many people speak English, or enough anyway, but there are even more people who do not.
I think that is it for now. I leave you with a few pictures from around town.
|I am sure these guys got permission for using the Ghostbusters logo.|