Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sleepless in Seoul

Seoul is a city that never sleeps. Pretty much everything seems to be open around the clock, including some shopping malls such as Dongdaemun Market, and so many restaurants, bars, and cafes. And you're never alone, as the Korean peninsula is overpopulated: Korea is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, meaning the most people per square kilometer... as opposed to Canada, which is on the other extreme. You're never alone in Seoul, yet it can make you feel so lonely.

Korea is full of dichotomies. On one hand, there is always something to do, you can party all night: more bars than you could ever imagine, karaoke rooms, restaurants, even bathhouses. On the other hand, it gets overwhelming, there is too much to choose from, and an evening at home is sometimes what I'm craving. Seoul is also so huge and has so many great neighborhoods to explore, for every taste: Itaewon for the international flair, City Hall for the big downtown feel and financial district, Insadong for the traditional side, Gangnam for the upscale feel and fancy cafes, Olympic Park for its green parks, Hongdae for the college, hippie vibe... I'm probably forgetting so many. Still, the city is so big that it often takes over an hour to get from one point to another. You have to plan your days very well... and thankfully the taxis are so cheap, so sometimes it's the best option. And sometimes not, because you can imagine the traffic jams in a city like Seoul. Yikes.

I've been here for 8 months now, which I still cannot fathom. I'm at the point where I've tried everything I wanted to try. So everything is not as new and exciting, but I think it's better. I'm at the point where it's comfortable: I know where are my favorite spots, I don't get lost in the subway, I have a great group of friends, and I know where to find pretty much everything.

I'm loving all the lights, all the action, all the people. I'm also loving the big urban feel, something I never quite got in Montreal. However, I'm longing for green spaces. For quietness. For less people everywhere. For clean, fresh air. Seoul is so polluted, it's quite sad. The past few days have been especially foggy, due to pollution... something I never experienced before, to that extent.

On the bright side, things at school are better (well, there is still lots of tension, but we don't care anymore). Even though the school politics and antics are getting old, I'm enjoying every minute spent teaching the kids, they always make me so happy. I'm also really motivated with the gym, Aaron and I renewed our memberships until February, and the owner gave us a huge discount, I think he likes us. And the weather has been great, a bit cooler and really sunny. The bugs are pretty much gone (or so I think), and I sneak home to eat lunch at watch "The Hills".


The Phoenix said...

The Hills is the new thing I watch too! hahahaha

Vivian said...

Aw, when I get back we can watch marathons together!!!