50th day in Seoul (hope I’m counting it right lol).
[Update] Miscounted indeed… 48th day lol. A pictureless story…
Took a cab a couple of days ago. The taxi driver was a 61-year-old man who could speak some English; and he’s obviously excited for the chance to test his skills with an English speaking foreigner lol.
South Korea, like Japan, is an ‘aging’ country with low birth rate but significant number of retirements every year. Culturally the senior citizens would pick up some hobbies; trekking seems like the #1 favourite as Korea is quite mountainous, and there’s plenty of nice and safe tracks within Seoul itself.
The taxi driver I met is following another path though; he is taking English lessons and going back to university instead… at age 61… how cool is that? His charming smile will last in my memory for a long while, with admiration and respect.
It rained day and night yesterday; and according to forecast there’s going to be frequent rain for coming days. Snow is fun, rain is not. And today is supposedly the only rainless day in the week; so I should be going out after this post…
Not sure where my destination would be though. It would be arrogant to suggest that I’ve seen most of Seoul, but I think I’ve seen pretty much of it indeed.
I’m beginning to feel a bit at home here, which is a dangerous feeling to have on travel as it means I’m getting lazy to explore the place. It sounds bizarre but it’s a mental challenge to drag myself to walk around everyday or two lol.
I’ve even thought of cutting my trip short, just a flash of thought though. There’s a couple of reasons that kept me from flying back yet, i.e. the cherry blossoms in April, and that I’m going to visit other provinces later this month.
Korean courtesy… there’s probably no “excuse me” in Korean language, so there’s plenty of barging and pushing when walking on the streets, especially for the fact that Koreans move really fast, so a slow pacer like me is often blocking their way in crowded areas. Nothing malicious; it’s just how it works.
And Koreans don’t smile that much. The customer service staff would use lots of polite words (and tone) with some bowing here and there, but rarely a smile. The cheerful taxi driver I mentioned above is one of the very few exceptions.
Don’t get me wrong though, the quality of service is mostly great. It’s just that their emotionless sometimes made me feel like I’ve done something wrong instead.
One thing I can’t stand at all is that Koreans love to spit (guys in particular). Some of them would simply spit on the floor wherever it is; and from the responses of people nearby it seems like a socially acceptable thing to do. Urgh.
Speaking of hygiene, there’s a severe lack of dustbins in public areas, but interestingly Seoul’s streets are one of the cleanest (minus the occasion spits) among all the cities I’ve been too. And the public toilets are excellent in cleanliness too, a strong plus point from travellers’ point of view.
I’ll never forget the nightmarish toilet experience in China a decade ago. I’ll skip the details (or you want to hear it instead lol?) but public toilets have became a factor for picking my travel destinations ever since.
Seoul travel journal
Previous: Cotton candy in a cup | Next: Jangchungdong pig trotter