Memories of South Korea – Part 2

In case you missed Part 1 of my Memories of South Korea, you can read it here: Part 1.

Here is Part 2 of my favourite memories and things about my time in South Korea while teaching English. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did writing them!

Night life

The streets of Seoul were alive during the day and they didn’t slow down once night fell.  Full of life, flashing bright electric lights and boisterous crowds of people, you couldn’t help but be enthralled and drawn in by the pulse of the city.  There were an endless number of things to do…night clubs, noraebang, restaurants and outdoor food stalls.  On weekends I would find myself wandering until the wee hours the morning or feasting on comforting food after a night of dancing with friends.  For a glimpse of Seoul’s night life, check out this video I took.

Markets

If you love shopping, you’d love Seoul! Not only does it have huge shopping centers and malls (like an awesome multi level electronic market which housed an uncountable amount of advanced gadgets that would not be found in North America until a year or two later) but it also has its fair share of outdoor markets.  You’d find vendors selling everything from clothing, jewelry, shoes and pet outfits to Korean crafts, house hold items and electronics.  Trust me, you could spend hours exploring!   Some popular ones include Namdaemun Market, Dongdaemun Market and Ewha Women’s University shopping district.

Ewha Women’s University shopping district – great for fashion, accessories and shoes

Festivals

South Korea celebrates several cultural festivals over the year such as Mud, Film, Dance, Blossom, Ceramic and Tea Festivals.  While I was there I experienced the Andong Mask Festival ,which showcases the Korean Mask Dance and traditional international dances from around the world, and the Jinju Lantern Festival (Namgang Waterfront) where bright intricate lanterns light up the Namgang River as they float and parade along.

Jinju Lantern Festival

Me working on making my very own lantern at a workshop

Andong Mask Festival

Subway system

Oh how I wish Toronto had the same subway system as is in Seoul.  I was quite nervous to use the subway system at first.  With, now 10 different lines (in 2005/2006 there were a few less), the subway map was (and still is) a maze of colourful interconnected routes and lines that zig zagged in every which way.  The subway system is amazing and literally gets you to anywhere you want to go in Seoul, quickly and economically.  When I was there a one way trip cost a commuter 1,000 won, which was the equivalent of $1USD.

 

Photo Credit: Korea Hotel Reservations.com      http://www.korea-hotel-reservations.com/transportation_in_seoul_korea.html

I lived in an apartment in an area of Seoul called Wolgok.   If you look closely, you can see my stop on Line 6 in the top right hand corner!

Sintan-ri

Sintan-ri is the furthest stop North in South Korea before you reach North Korea.   This is the last stop on the train, the end of the line.  There was something a little eerie about seeing the end of the tracks and knowing not too far away is the border of North Korea, a Korea that is vastly different than the one I had come to know.  My boyfriend and I walked along a quiet and still path, in a valley between low mountain ranges, which ran parallel to where the tracks used to continue on North before the war.  It was an odd feeling.  Walking on that path gave me some goosebumps because everything was so still, it was almost like a ghost town.  We were also under watchful eyes of the military who were stationed along the path in the distance.

And for the last item on my list….My neighbourhood

Although I didn’t live in the heart of Seoul, my neighbourhood was still full of hustle, bustle and personality.  Here are a few fond memories of my Wolgok neighbourhood:

–          My apartment was 10 minutes away from my school.  Every morning on my regular route to work, an old Korean man would always try to engage me in Korean.  Unfortunately his English was very limited and my Korean was the same.  If I was running a little late, he would point to his watch indicating I should hurry or some days he would wave me over to his shop and encourage me to take an ice cream bar and would always refuse my money when I tried to pay him.

–          During my break in the school day I would sometimes stop by the bakery owned by the parents of one of my students for a snack.  I used to buy a couple of sweet rolls, to this day I’m not exactly sure what they were, but boy did I love them!

–          Right around the corner of my apartment was a small five way intersection that inexplicably had NO traffic signs or lights…no rules.  During rush hour it was a free for all!  I don’t know how anyone made it through without crashing.  Check out this video to see what I mean! 🙂

–          I was fortunate to have a nice walking path with a great view of the city just a short walk away.  It was a very steep climb to get there, but worth the temporary exhaustion for the outlook.

My street

I hope you enjoyed reading through recollections of my once in a lifetime adventure!

Have you visited South Korea?  If so, I’d love to hear the memories that you took away!

Thanks for reading!

Talia

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