I realised that I haven’t blogged yet about my trip to Seoul. On a slight tangent, I’ve been doing some “life coach” kind of counselling lately, and reading a book called “What Next” to try and figure out what I want to achieve in my job/career/life.
To figure out where you go next you have to know where you’ve been, so part of the process involves reviewing accomplishments and figuring out what you’re really proud of achieving. In thinking about my own recent accomplishments, I’d have to say this trip is right up there. I think it would seem fairly insane to most people to drag a rather routine-oriented 17-month old to a country thousands of miles away, on a 12-hour flight, with a 16-hour time difference, on your own (with a little help from Grandma). But I did, and I had such a marvellous time.
First, travel is always good for me… it gives me perspective. And it makes me happy. It makes me reflective, and it makes me think. It’s so nice to break out of routines – to spend hours in a cafe in Seoul sipping coffee, mulling over a guidebook, and smiling at friendly locals who absolutely adored M. Babies, especially of the Western variety, seem to be a major hit. Every time M fussed in her stroller on the subway, or got stroppy in a restaurant, a dozen arms would rustle through a dozen purses, handing her candy, biscuits or toys.
My impressions of Seoul, because in 7 days impressions are all I can fairly say I got:
People were friendly, helpful: Whenever we looked lost (which was often!) people were happy to offer advice. A woman even paid our subway fare once as she explained how to use the machines. Except the shopgirls in the trendy zone; they were a bit snooty. But that may be universal.
Fashionable: Most women dress beautifully and tastefully. And even Grandma has an LV purse… only she knows if it’s real or not.
Kid-friendly: Not sure about older children, but babies are a hit, and even the snooty salesgirls cooed over her. Although I would caution those of you wary of people touching and photographing their babies to stay far away; that stuff doesn’t bug me, which is good as M was often surrounded by a dozen people taking photos and videos of her, and reaching out to touch her hands and cheeks. I fully expect to see a billboard of her schilling some product if I ever go back.
Under-visited: We saw very few Western tourists, at least in the parts of the city we were in. We did not spend much time near the large US military base, which has more “foreigners.”
Affordable: Sure the flights add up, but I spent almost nothing on food while I was there.
Vibrant: Coffee shops teemed with people, convenience stores were open all night; gorgeous young people tripped over the sidewalks.
Clean: Super, duper clean. And smoggy too. But the stoops, sidewalks, floors, grounds were clean – and when your 17-month old is juuuuust starting to walk, this is something you notice!
Delicious: Korean food at home is only so-so, at least as far as I’ve experienced. But I had loads of wonderful meals. M only ate rice for the most part though.
As for M, she was a trouper. She had been so fussy recently, and tantrumy, I was sort of anxious about it. But turns out 7 days of one-on-one mommy attention makes M into a very happy, content and well-behaved girl, even on severe lack of sleep. She was a wonderful travel buddy and it was really good for us. P seemed to enjoy his special dad-time back at home too.
Why Seoul? A wedding… a very happy one!
So all in all, very nice to break out of the routine – to throw caution/routines and possibly sanity to the wind… it was well worth the risk apparently!
Of course, reunions are nice too.