It’s back to reality for us. Our year long trip around the world has finally come to an end. I thought we’d experience some post trip let-down, people usually do after an extended journey, but frankly we just haven’t had the time.
We’re back in Seoul and it’s been quite the whirlwind. Moving house, looking for work and reconnecting with old friends and family has kept us jumping, never mind the insane pace of life in this uber-modern, 24 hour mega-city.
Before we took off on our global adventure, we’d lived in the decidedly ex-pat Itaewon neighbourhood of Seoul. Upon our return, we wanted to integrate more into the culture and society, (and to be honest, live in a more modern home), so we moved our life south of the Han River and into contemporary Seoul.
A Quick Seoul Geography Lesson: The city is basically bisected by the mighty kilometre wide Han River. The areas north of the River are considered to be the more historical parts of Seoul. This is where you find traditional hanok style housing and the 5 palaces of the Chosun Dynasty. South of the Han River or Gangnam (Gang means river and Nam means south, so south of the river in Korean, for all you Gangnam Style fans out there), is the modern part of Seoul. Forty years ago, Gangnam was nothing but agricultural fields, but since then, it’s developed into the most affluent, dynamic, and influential area of both Seoul and South Korea as a whole. It’s south of the River that you find modern apartments, huge malls, commercial complexes and the powerful chaebols (LG, Samsung, Hyundai).
Living on this side of the River requires some adjustment. We used to live on the 3rd floor of a 3 story walk-up, surrounded by other similarly sized houses (called villas in Seoul), with a view of Namsan, the mountain in the middle of the city. Now, we’re on the 33rd floor of a building that’s part of a huge complex of apartment buildings. We don’t even have keys for our front door here. It’s pass card or code only. Sometimes, I look out the window and feel like I’m in some sort of dystopian reality, but these apartments are, in fact, very modern and comfortable. Thousands of families live in these buildings.
We still have 9 months of travel adventures to write about, and we’re committed to doing it. It just might take a bit longer than anticipated. After all, we’ve got important things to deal with in our new house, like figuring out what all these buttons on our toilet mean…
Anyone wanna take a shot at deciphering this for us?