Almost done with week two of my trip to Korea!
This past week I got to spend a lot of time with my mom, which was another treat. My younger brother has a couple of friends here that we know from church back in the states. (They moved here with their families because their dads had to move to Korea for work.) So while he was off visitng them and sleeping over, my mom and I got to visit some neat places in Seoul. (Pictures to follow!) We roamed an area of the city where people have nostalgically built their homes in a more ancient style (not so interesting) and we visited a street known for its abundance of little shops (more interesting). It was a lot of fun hanging out with my mom and getting to talk to her about Korea and the things we saw. Upon her request, I also bought her a cute little ceramic necklace. (She bought another necklace for which my brother will eventually be requested to pay. Hehe.)
Over the weekend we all got to spend time with some family friends that moved here from California (the same ones that have kids that my brother is friends with). It felt like old times, all three families talking and relaxing on a Saturday evening. One of the families moved to Korea two years ago, and it was fascinating to see how much their kids have grown. The youngest one had barely begun to walk when they left, but now he talks with ease! Since most of the kids were my younger brother’s age, I spent the evening playing with the two youngest children, ages four and eight. We played with Play-Dough type stuff (made of silicone, which I think is a great idea), ran around the apartment (surprisingly spacious), and ate popsicles. What fun! As we were about to enter the subway station, they cutely and heartbreakingly exclaimed, “Bye! See you in America, OK? Bye!” Oh, kids. You have to love them…
One of the great things about Seoul is the public transportation system. The subway system is extremely far-reaching, efficient, and timely; a fleet of buses crosses the entire city. One can transfer from subway to subway without paying an additional fare–the only caveat is the long distance one sometimes has to walk for the transfer. So great is the public transportation that the buses and subway run on the same fare system, which means that one can transfer from bus to subway within 30 minutes and not have to pay an additional fare. Yet one of the peculiar things about Seoul is that it takes 40 minutes to an hour to travel a few kilometers via public transit. Something to do with population density, perhaps? I’m quickly adjusting my Californian attitude against extended travel times. I don’t have much choice, since with walking factored in, it takes an average of 30 minutes to get anywhere. Still, since we don’t have access to a car, hooray for public transportation!
I am writing this from a distant relative’s house somewhere in the countryside. It’s been an interesting experience, but this computer’s not very fast, so I will post pictures of recent adventures later. “Ahnyoung!”