Our first post from Korea marked the first 30 Hours of our trip to Korea, from the time we got up at home till the time we arrived in our room at the guest house. So, after our first 30 hours in Seoul, here are some of my first impressions …
Seoul is a modern city. I enjoyed riding the bus into Seoul when we first arrived (after my nap during much of the hour-long trip from the airport to our drop-off point). Seoul reminded me of New York City, in terms of the buildings and the bright lights (I want to get some photos). On our first day here, I was impressed with with the city, at least in the small section of the city we covered by foot today.
Communication is a challenge. We had received conflicting information before we arrived regarding the use of English in Seoul — some said English was fairly common while others said they had trouble finding people who could communicate with them in English. In our brief experience so far, communication has been a challenge for us, especially when we’ve needed directions (more on that in a moment). But we’ve managed pretty well so far (in many ways, it’s a good experience!).
It’s cold! Many people told us it would be cold here. In our research, we discovered that actual temperatures are actually pretty close to what we’re used to in PA. However, it feels colder! We walked a lot today — to find breakfast, to see the city, and later, to find an afternoon meal. Each time, our faces hurt. Click here to see the current weather conditions and forecast for Seoul.
It’s hard to find stuff! At first we thought it was us, but after we had a hard time finding Outback steakhouse, we came back to our room and searched online about how to find addresses in Seoul. We discovered there’s no easy system for finding addresses. Addresses sometimes include a number (but it has no connection with the numbers of the surrounding buildings and the number may not even be on the building), there may be a street name (I think), but usually the section of town is given (e.g. Gangnam-gu where “gu” is the section). Next, it gets narrowed down to the neighborhood (e.g. Apgujeong-dong where “dong” is the neighborhood). Apparently, there are 25 gu and 522 dong.Sometimes a landmark is included (e.g. directions to Outback included that a McDonald’s was nearby; although we eventually found the Outback, we never found the McDonald’s!). Well, at least now we know it wasn’t just us! 🙂
Internet access has been a huge help! I mentioned searching for help with finding addresses. We’ve used the internet to find out how to get to places (like the Korean Folk Village just outside of Seoul, where we plan to spend most of today). A great resource is the Korea Tourism Organization’s website, Tour2Korea.com.This research includes learning how to use Seoul’s extensive subway and bus transportation systems (we’ll probably say more about transportation later, especially if we get lost!). And it’s great way to keep in touch with friends and family!
We’ve enjoyed our first 30 hours in Seoul!