Tag Archives: seoul

Better To Stay Loose

Leaving Seoul today. I knew that it was coming but still, for some reason or another, it’s hard. I don’t want to go back to Beijing. I have responsibilities there.

I am writing this while sitting on the airport express train. That old, peculiar feeling of leaving a place or a friend has sprung up again.

For some reason it always feels like it’s raining on the last day of a trip. Rain drops splatter against the sides of window panes as the questions run through my mind.

What if I don’t leave?

What if I do?

What if it’s all a mistake?

seoul black and white

Hill top in Itaewon, Seoul.

Traveling to a new city is always like living in a dream. You meet new people and see new things. You walk around and imagine yourself in every cafe and on every street corner.

But you know you’re just kidding yourself. You don’t love this city anymore than the last. It’s all just that hopeless romantic side of you. Not made to fit in anywhere because, actually, you enjoy not fitting in.

I mean… what I mean to say is, you don’t like staying anywhere too long. Then the shine wears off and you see that everyone is human again.

Better to stay loose. Better to keep moving.

Modern and Drab Seoul

I recently completed my goal to visit the triumvirate of northeast Asian Mega-cities: Beijing, Tokyo, and Seoul.

Seoul lights in Gangnam.

Seoul lights in Gangnam.

All of these cities are massive. But they are also unique.

Beijing, where I live, is gritty and brutish.

Tokyo is dazzling and unique.

Seoul is…

Seoul is modern.

I knew that it was technologically advanced, but I didn’t expect so many free internet access points and for everything to be so clean. That’s a big plus, especially when you are coming from China’s tight internet restrictions and less than ideal sanitation.

It’s geography is also quite nice. It’s hilly and that gives it some character. Maybe I’m partial because Beijing is so flat.

And while Seoul is ideal for tech and cleanliness, it is also a bit bland. In terms of architecture, at least. The buildings are all pretty similar and leave something to be desired.

(I would also comment on their music/movie scene, but I feel it’s too early for that. They might have something unique there, but it still needs time. I will give them the benefit of the doubt- even though Gangnam Style is a little… OK moving on.)

On the whole, I think it’s not quite a bad place at all. Safe, clean, and technologically advanced. In terms of style it’s no NYC or Tokyo, but that’s OK. I suppose that may be a title not everyone actually wants. 

It’s nice to finally visit all three cities. It took four years and I feel like I now have a really strong breadth of this area. 

Funny that even though I have noticed many unique characteristics, I have found that these three places actually have far more similarities than differences. The food, family values, and culture of face all seem ubiquitous.

While I feel like this trip definitely closes a chapter in my traveling career, I also look forward to visiting these places again someday. Each has a very youthful vibe and it’s almost like you can taste the change in the air.

I like that. I like when people push the status quo.