Aerial View of Seoul

Seoul was hot and rainy like the Philippines, but that’s where the similarities end. You will feel the the modernity and the affluence of a first world country. You will wonder how its residents keep their skin so white despite the scorching sun and having no qualms about walking up, down, everywhere. You will wish you understood Korean (thank goodness for calculators and electronic dictionaries).

Technological conveniences are abundant, which are my biggest envy of course.

  • GPS is in every car, taxi, bus, and probably cellphone.
  • CCTVs are everywhere.
  • LCD screens are also everywhere.
  • Paying for stuff electronically using T-money is the norm, and works everywhere from public transportation to convenience stores, even while inside wallets.
  • Lotteria (the local fastfood chain, run by Lotte) have wireless devices that light up and beep when it’s time to claim your food. (They also have automated sanitary wipe dispensers.)
  • Those high-tech Japanese toilets are ubiquitous enough.
  • Airport Wi-Fi speed is at 9 Mbps.

Food was hit-or-miss, but always had large portions and came with kimchi. It’s a shame most restaurants didn’t let you share meals. Weirdest dish I had was cold noodles, which literally had ice in the soup. Tastiest were the sauce for breaded pork and the seaweed-based one for a certain fish. I wish I knew what their names were!

I didn’t go to the COEX mall, but Dongdaemun, Namdaemun, and Myeongdong were exhausting enough. Some of the stores are open 18 hours a day. Skin care stores like The Face Shop, Innisfree, Etude House, Missha, and Olive Young are more ubiquitous than McDonald’s. My only regrets were not being able to check out Uniqlo and find a certain Elle Korea issue from 2009.

Oh, and not going during the spring, when cherry blossoms bloom—that’s on the same bucket list as those white tigers—which better be the case if I go to Japan. Get kimono. Wear kimono. Fly. I promise to study Japanese again.

As always, enjoy the pictures. Lumix ZS7 is love.

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made in the Philippines by Sophia Lucero.