South Korean Adventure
Chatteris' own Max Price on her time exploring South Korea.
Living in Hong Kong is exciting and fulfilling, but sometimes it’s good to escape from the humidity and well known streets and people. This Easter break, I left the brilliant sunshine of Hong Kong behind and went to Seoul and Busan in South Korea – a mixture of bright sun, rain, and brisk winds. Summer came to Hong Kong much faster, it seems!
Before coming to Hong Kong, I had been looking into moving to Korea for work, so I knew a lot about it – in theory. I can speak some of the language too, so the opportunity to practise this and experience the country I had learned so much about first hand was a fantastic proposition for me, a trip I had been saving up for the long Easter break!
My arrival in Seoul, the capital city, saw me in a large Asian city full of bright lights and people milling about – a similar experience to Hong Kong (though with fewer people). My next morning, however, showed me just how wrong I was to put Seoul anywhere near Hong Kong.
Above: Some snapshots of Seoul.
There is more than just a language difference between Koreans and Hong Kongers – the people were very friendly and polite and were very excited (and surprised) when I was able to communicate with them in their own language, and encouraged me to try more even when I was struggling. The roads are very open, and while there is a lot going on, there is still an overarching sense of space in Seoul – perhaps because it’s such an enormous place to begin with.
Highlights for me mainly revolved around food – from cold, sweet bingsu (shaved ice with amazing toppings) to piping hot doenjang jiggae (a soft tofu soup served with rice), it’s hard to go wrong with Korean food (even for a vegetarian like me!) However, the lights in the University district of Hongdae and the peaceful mock old style village at Namsang offered both excitement and tranquility in this massive city, perfect for any kind of person.
Above: A mouth-watering bowl on bingsu.
Half way through my stay, I took a train down to Busan (no zombies, thankfully) and found myself in the sprawling second city of South Korea. When I arrived it was cold and raining – not the best first impression for a new city, but a new side to Korea I hadn’t seen. As I rode the long bus journey from the train station to Haeundae beach on the east side of the city, I got to see a fresher, darker side of the city, which was a wonderful thing to experience (despite getting rained on).
Above: Pictures taken in Busan.
The centre of seafood and stunningly coloured houses took my breath away at every turn: from shopping in the main central district to relaxing by the bay, there was never an uneventful moment in Busan. The air was fresh, the people friendly (and keen to let me practice my Korean, which people from Seoul seemed more reluctant to do… Perhaps they wanted to practice their English?), and from the traditional market under my hotel to the 10 HKD fantastic coffee, every inch of Busan was a dream I can’t wait to get back to.
Above: Making friends.
All in all, my time in South Korea taught me a lot about the culture and about myself. It is somewhere I am eager to get back to, and somewhere I advise all budding CNETs to visit if they get the chance!