Today marks our 5th week in Seoul, South Korea. We are loving every moment of this crazy adventure. After a month of people watching out our window, on the subways, and during our countless hours of exploring the city I have compiled a list of things that must be mentioned about South, Korea.
1. Love Motels
First on my list are the iconic Korean love motels. This is where Alex and I spent our very first night in Seoul. After a long thirteen-hour flight a man holding a sign with our names greeted us. This man was a complete stranger to us and could not speak a word of English. He simply passed Alex a cellphone with our school’s Director on the other line to confirm that we were indeed the right foreigners.
After a forty-five minute drive from Incheon, International Airport we were dropped off in an alleyway motel. The motel had bright neon hearts and the entrance was hidden with large fabric tassels. The hallways were dimly lit with red light bulbs and offered risqué options in the vending machines (pictured below). The sounds coming from other rooms were both shocking and at points concerning haha.
We later found out from co-workers that these motels were much different than any we have ever come across. Love motels in South Korea offer “resting” rates for 1-3 hours. So, if you have an imagination I’m sure you could figure out what people use these for! They are considered to be taboo by some Koreans, but are a cheap alternative to expensive hotels for foreigners (varying from $18-50 per night).
2. Fur, Fur, and More Fur
When we arrived in March the weather here was still fairly cold. This meant that Korean’s had their fur out in full force. There seems to be no shame in wearing real fur in Korea. My kindergarten kids (5 year olds) came to school with fur lined jackets, fur hoods, and even some full fur vests.
You never feel rude for being on your phone in South, Korea. Smartphone devices are basically like everyone’s third hand here. They are never out of sight. My Korean co-teacher is constantly texting over-bearing “Mommy’s” and sending them photos of their children’s every move. The subways are jammed packed with people using their smartphones. They even have little antennas so they can watch TV on their commutes (pictured below).
4. Yellow Dust
This stuff sucks! Yellow dust (asian dust, hwangsa) comes from China’s Gobi Desert. These little particles pick up all of the terrible pollution, bacteria, and all sorts of stuff before landing in South Korea. This mostly lasts for the months of March and April, and is especially bad on certain days.
I was recently a victim of the yellow dust. The dust left me with a vicious cough, an extremely sore throat and troubles breathing. After spending my weekend indoors and under quarantine I decided I no longer wanted to be inside. I made a stop at the closest corner store and bought myself a mask. I will never take for granted clean Canadian air again!
It’s not unfamiliar to come across a squatter in the bathrooms here. Since being here I have been caught off guard a couple times when opening the bathroom stall. The squatters look like ceramic troughs in the ground and offer a great thirty second squat session. Some bathrooms offer both options. The first time I learnt this the hard way, but from know on I check both aisles of the bathroom stalls.
6. Matching Outfits
In order to make sure everyone knows they are a couple Korean’s purchase matching clothing, hats, shoes and so much more. Alex and I are planning to make our first appearance as a real couple in the coming weeks – pictures to come.