Blog post Tom - First Few Days in Seoul
I remember wandering around the airport of Dubai waiting for my connected flight to Seoul like it was yesterday. Amazed by the Porsche’s and Ferrari’s in the Duty Free Shops, the palm trees in the terminals and just this constant vibe of it being a very rich and wealthy little area. Then came Seoul, another completely different setting. A culture shock from the moment I touched the ground. The airport and passport control being so efficient, fast and correct, like I’ve never seen before. A language I had rarely heard before and was impossible to follow. Let alone the alphabet and all the symbols. What did it all say? Where was I supposed to go? I was, so to speak, slightly lost in a city of over 10 million people. Ready for the adventure to begin!
Surprises at every corner of the street
What surprised me the most is basically everything. Just how efficient and clean the city is, how kind the younger generation of the population is, how incredible the food is and how the weather was simply amazing, positively overwhelmed me from day 1. And it left me speechless and amazed till the day I left. I fell in love with the city, and never felt so safe as I did in Seoul. Which, is rather ironic for a city so close to one of the most dangerous and unpredictable countries in the world. It was definitely a culture shock to me, and I experienced one almost every day as I dived deep into the local Korean culture and traditions, and was surprised by how they work and think from day to day.
What I love about Seoul is that it is so incredibly diverse. Each district has its own centre, and each area is very different to the other, making it such a vibrant city. One area can be known for partying, the other for its restaurants and bars, whilst a district on the other side of the river is recognized by the world famous ‘Gangnam Style’ song. The city itself is environmentally also very diverse, with mountains everywhere. The city surprises you in every corner of the street. One moment you’ll have to climb if you hit a left, the other moment you’re trying to stop yourself from running when you take a right. With hills everywhere and trees fighting upwards for sunlight through the narrowest streets of the busiest areas, Seoul looks a lot less polluted then it actually is.
Go out, dare, and enjoy!
When packing for Seoul, the best tip I can give you is to pack for three or four seasons. When you arrive mid august, its raining cats and dogs, in September the sun is out like its June in Barcelona, in October, temperatures drop to 10 degrees but the sun remains, in November it gets a bit colder and hiking season kicks in (beautiful colors everywhere), and in December temperatures drop like you’ve never seen before. So, to keep it simple, pack as much as you can, but also as little as you can, because Seoul is a paradise for shopaholics.
Let yourself be amazed and blown away by the city during your first few days upon arrival. Go out, meet new people, explore together, try local restaurants, and just look around you! If you want to get in touch with locals more, go and explore alone, take a random left, hop on any bus, or let yourself get lost in the huge metro network of Seoul. Go out, dare, and enjoy!