Post #19 – Let’s take a first look at a fascinating capital city – Seoul, in South Korea. A city I fell in love with at first site. I visited Seoul twice so far, and getting there is easy. Leaving is hard.
I am a world traveler at heart, and love exploring new places, but Seoul has made it hard for me. The allure of this safe, humble and logic city is irresistible. Returning there has become a must. I can only count my acquaintances there with one or two hands, and although each year their number grows, I know that what attracts me there is the common sense of things.
Living in new places is adventurous. I lived in 4 countries and staid in so many more, but my roads never took me blindly back to the same place until I met Seoul. I visited Lima many times because I love the food there. I can’t get enough of Rome, Paris and London because I love museums, art and history. I revisit German towns because of my family. I reluctantly went back to my hometown in Romania, just so I can say goodbye to loved ones. I revisited Cairo three times because I am infatuated with Egyptology. I could live in Venice if it would be less run over by tourists, and I was one of them many times.
But no city has made me feel more comfortable, more at peace than Seoul. I stand out there, but I feel like I go unnoticed, like I blend into the background, in a world of my own. Maybe it is because I don’t understand much of the language and can’t read the walls and signs either. The lack of understanding makes me feel even more at peace. I did not feel the same in Cairo or in Marrakech for that matter.
What exactly takes me back again and again to Seoul may well be a mystery to me forever. But while the level of comfort I feel there is so high, I will keep going. A few small things that add to that comfort are: the silence – people rarely speak loud; the safety – you can leave your phone on the table and nobody will take it; the discipline – people don’t cross the street on red; the markets – you can shop without being harassed; the food – it is safe to eat and good wherever you go; the drinking – costs close to nothing; the sites – unbelievably inexpensive to visit historic sites; the parks – fresh, clean, fragrant; the subway – logical, efficient and clean; and then there is the entertainment: shows, festivals, cultural events … all available and accessible. Not yet sure how it will be to be living there, but that is a subject for the next time. In a few months I will know more.