SeoulO Trip, South Korea

I stared at the view from the bus window searching for signs that would make me feel that I wasn’t   in Japan anymore. There was only the greenery— not enough to give a distinctive feel of the city.  I felt bored but at least I was sitting comfortably in an airport shuttle bus bound to Seoul.  The passengers were a mix of Koreans and Asian tourists. It made me feel at ease that I wasn’t just the only foreigner.  It seemed that the trip to my destination would take more than an hour, so I decided to get some sleep.

I traveled to South Korea for spring vacation.  It was only an hour away from Japan and it was one of the countries I’ve always wanted to go to.  I think I might even have more knowledge of Kpop culture than Jpop.  Despite being one of my must-see places, I went to Seoul to get away. I wanted to be out of Japan even just for a moment, just so I could breath.

I got off at Namdaemun Market bus stop as instructed by the hotel staff where I was going to stay.  The driver seemed kind of irritated because it took more than a minute for us to find my small luggage in the bus compartment.  It didn’t bother me at all and even assured me I was not in Japan anymore. (You know how Japanese are very polite and very service-oriented.) In fact, it was one of the very few incidents that made me feel that I was back in the real world.  And I loved it!

The Seoul subway station was one of the places I felt comfortable.  I relished the noise inside the train. I liked how the ahjummas and ahjussis would claim their rightful spot in the reserved seating. I even liked how some people would slightly bump into me without the need to say sorry. I liked how they would rush into the first available seat they would see. I liked how they didn’t have reservations to sit next to each other. I liked seeing them express their emotions. I sincerely liked those things. Somehow, all those things reminded me of home, of normalcy.

I’ve been stressed for a while in Japan because of one thing. Being surrounded by people aggravates it even more. My visit to Seoul was just what I needed.  I kind of feel like some of the things that I initially love in Japan are getting on my nerves. Well, I certainly know what I’m feeling right now is because of stress. But Seoul has truly been a perfect escape, even just for a few days.

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This is the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) designed by Zaha Hadid.
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Night view in Dongdaemun

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Myeongdong Market

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