I don’t remember exactly how it started, but the beauty of this project is that me and Juno started to think about something very similar in the same time.
We chat a lot (Twitter, Skype, but most of all Whatsapp) and I started to wonder how Seoul looked like, I mean of course I can read about it on any guide, but since both me and Juno are “living the local life”, I thought it would be cool to see if these two big cities have something in common. Because I am sure there must be something! Personally I think even Cairo and New York City share many similarities. Aren’t they both crowded and… dirty? ;)
Then Juno came up with this beautiful idea of the “Sister Cities” project. We decided a list of questions to answer. It wasn’t that easy: what we are trying to do answering these questions is giving a real informative knowledge of the cities we are talking about. I mean, if you go to Cairo, Egypt or Seoul, South Korea with our Q/A lists you’ll be ok :)
I am posting Juno’s list and she is posting mine. What a nice exchange! So let’s start… go Juno!
Juno is a travel blogger from Seoul, Korea. She’s currently employed in Seoul as an engineer but she loves hiking and backpacking, and always takes advantage of her free time to explore! Read her stories and see her beautiful travel pics on http://runawayjuno.com
Significant four seasons. Snows a lot in winter, rains a lot in summer and covered with beautiful color in autumn and spring. Three months each, exactly four weather.
2. What Kind of street food to eat.
This article may help you get ideas of it. Korean are food lovers. You can find something to eat in any street in the country.
3. Transportation to use. and price.
Bus, subway, train, taxi you name it. Base fair of bus and subway starts from 1000 won, about 1 USD. Taxi is fairly cheap, starts from 2400 won. In my experience, about 10,000 won for 15 km. My favourite is subway. It spreads all over the city, and is the best way to keep on time. We all know traffic jam in a big city is a nightmare.
4. common drinks (water, coke, milk.. something local, you can get it from the store).
Bottled water is not quite popular, and you can find a lot of bottled tea. Green tea, citrus tea, Jasmine tea, and mixed tea. Coffee is really in at the moment. At least three coffee shop in one street.
5. Where to go/ what to do at night.
Movie, club, restaurant.. countless places. If you ask me where to go, I will say Hongdae. You will love Hongdae if you are into clubbing, if you love food, if you love vibrant atmosphere. Night shopping, drink, movie, street food.. everything is here!
6. What kind of activities you can do at day time.
Anything you can think of. Sightseeing, walking around the Chunggye stream.. It can sound quite strange, but I like to go to a big book store. I can read there as long as I want. It makes me happy, surrounded by thousands and thousands of books.
My favourite thing to do in Seoul is watching small theatre show. Musical, play, or comedy show. Music is a great way to feel the culture. It’s not in traditional Korean song, but all the culture is melted in the two hour show. And also it’s fun! Good looking people dancing and singing in front of me, what’s not to like?
You will notice so many church crosses, and temples. Those are two main religions here. Even though people believe in different things, Confucianism is the foundation of Korean culture. It is more like a Chinese philosophy than religion, it is widely spreaded. Such as, respect your elder and ancestor. Korean’s New Year’s ceremony and Chuseok ceremony is based on the philosophy.
8. Dangers, if any
I believe Seoul is one of the safest big cities in the world. Despite the fact Seoul is one of the busiest, and crowdest place in the world, I never had any serious crime. Occasion car crash, thief, bugler like any other place, but luckily I had no experience in that area. Have to be secured because crime does exist anywhere but I can only say it is a fairly safe place.
9. Main landmarks
The palace. Gyeong bok palace, among the most. It is the main palace where King used to live, and you can see the energy in it.
Nam san and Seoul N Tower is the must, can’t leave out Han river. Newly built Gwanghwamun city square and Chunggye stream are another attraction.
Short trip to Suwon to see Hwasung (fortress), Hiking trip to Soyosan (mountain) up north, beautiful river side in Yangpyeong. All of these places are within 2 hours way from Seoul.
Mosquitoes- you have to be prepared for that. Well, not like Thailand but believe of not Seoul is quite nature friendly city, so it’s quite great place for them to live.
12. Language skills (What kind of language do they use, normally)
Korean is one and only language in Korea. Many young people can speak and understand English pretty well. Not the older generations. English education has been performed quite a long time but practical usage has been not long. However If you pick some words up, people will be so pleased.
13. If you are traveling to your city, you are not going out without…. ( )
Transit card. It is the number one item to get around the city. Go for bus, subway and some vending machines.
14. Any extra ordinary custom
Sadly, still male chauvinism is left; many customs are against woman doing things. For example woman smoking in the street, is not illegal per se, but it’s highly frowned upon.
Based on Confucianism culture, age is really sensitive factor in the culture. Don’t wave to elders, always bow use your back.
When hand things to stranger, use one hand under the other, especially to elders.
I know, a lot of rules and it is bugging me a lot of times, I think respect elders custom is quite good.
15. Your secret tips
If you are going to stay here more than three days, get a transit card as soon as you arrived. You can buy it in convenience store. Cash in, and use it for public transportation. It gives you a lot of discounts. For example, if you take subway and translate to a bus, it will cut your fair more than half. Use the good system!
Thank you Juno for this beautiful journey in your city, Seoul. If it wasn’t for you I would know nothing about it!