I had no time to write in Seoul. Traveling with my best friend meant that I had no time alone in cafes. It meant that I constantly had to keep up with her. And she likes to travel, and to shop, so I had little reflection time. I did however manage to scribble some notes in a journal while laying on the bed in our hostel moments before we slept.
The following in an excerpt from that day, Friday March 21, Seoul, South Korea
Arrived in Seoul at noon. Through the entire train ride people were talking on cell phones - a big contrast to the tomb-silence of trains in Japan. People also chatted with each on the trains, even total strangers, in a loud tone that I sometimes mistook for aggression. The train ceilings also feel very low and the train door will close on you. On the train from the airport to the mains station we saw an old man get stuck in the door - I'm not sure what happened, maybe his foot or cane went through the crevice between the train and platform. Then in slow motions he fall face forward on the platform and the entire train car gasped. I felt sick watching it happened. Passengers immediately rushed to help him get unstuck, and when they moved him onto the platform, the train doors closed and we sped away.
We got off at Meyongdon at 2:45 to find our hostel and put our luggage down. The place looked like a goddam wholesale alley and was really run-down. We found the hostel, walked up a long flight of narrow steps carrying our heavy luggage only to be told that this was not our hostel. The staff gave some direction but offered no other help. We heaved the luggage down the steps.
We got back on the train to Dongminmum and arrived at 3:30. Still, we could find the hostel so we walked into a Pizza Hut and asked for direction. One of the staff members left their post behind the counter and walked us right to the front door of the hostel. That place could not have been more different from the first hostel. It was modern and clean, and the staff took our luggage right away and carried it to our rooms. The man at the counter was so friendly and chatty, and recommended a good local restaurant nearby. It was 5:00pm when we ate “lunch.”
We spent the rest of the day shopping in Galasoo-gil and I was able to make some interesting observations about the people I saw in Seoul:
• Korean girls mostly wear flat shoes, sneakers, and loafers, not like the Japanese girls in high heels and platforms.
• Couples are more affectionate in public than in Japan. They hold and hands and even sneak kisses.
• Friends of the same gender are also more affectionate in public. They hold hands and put their arms around each other.
• Advertisements show only Koreans, not foreigners, mixed-race people, or even other Asians. In Tokyo, most of the ads for international brands still show only white models.
• People seem aggressive and rude in public, but they nice when you talk to them
• People say helpful things, like giving us directions and or wishing us a good trip, but with a tone that I interpret as aggressive or rude, so its confused me