I finally visited Seoul today. I went with Julia (I met her through a friend from Bishop’s) and Lorne (went to Bishop’s but I never talked to him). Lorne has lived in Korea for 6 months now, so he’s down with the Seoul scene, if you will. Seoul, as it turns out, is enormous. I’m not kidding. Think of the largest city you’ve ever been in (unless you’ve been to Bombay, Karachi, Delhi, Shanghai, Moscow or Sao Paulo) and multiply that by 2 to 3 million. That’s how big Seoul is. It’s also a very unattractive city, in my opinion. It’s like if they built everything rushed and didn’t bother maintaining anything. I’m not denying that there are many beautiful ancient temples and structures, but in terms of a city, I find it very dirty and worn. Maybe it’ll grow on me though and I do love the fact that you can see mountains from the middle of the city. I guess it has its charm.
Since it was my first visit to Seoul, I got to get a feel for the travel times. Turns out I live 10 minutes from Suwon Station (the metro station in my city) and from there it’s 60-ish minutes to the middle of Seoul. The Seoul metro system is sort of like a mix of the TTC and the GO trains (for Torontonians) or the Parisian Metro and the RER. It emcompaces the innercity as well as the intercity routes. I haven’t quite figured out how the fees work, but it’s 900W for the bus and there’s a small transfer fee for the metro. Either way, it’s a very cheap way to get around.
So we walked around for a while and it was good. I’ll need to go check it out on a weekly basis to see all of the city. We saw a few foreigner, but very few of them acknowledged us. It was weird, I mean it’s pretty obvious that we’re all from North America. I figure we should at least say hi, kinda of like how bikers greet each other. But that’s just not how it is. Also, some crazy/drunk homeless man accosted us with a toothpick and offered Lorne fellatio. Tempting, but he somehow resisted. Julia though he was going to spit on her and was shook for the next half hour. Big cities are a strange place indeed.
Tomorrow I’m going to a student’s house for Chuseok (a Korean holiday similar to Thanksgiving). I’m really excited but I’m also quite scared. I don’t think anyone in the family speaks English except the student and I think we’re going to her grandfather’s house. I’m so scared that I’ll do or say something that’ll dishonor her or her family and they’ll have to live in shame for the next 17 generations or something. Hopefully it’ll go well. I figure I’ll smile lots and copy what they do and hope for the best.