Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Public Transportation

I had heard rumors of this being the case, but it's something that I didn't quite believe until I experienced it for myself. If you ride the subway, buses, trains, etc. in Korea, you have to get over your fear of people invading your "personal space." There is no such thing as a personal bubble when it comes to public transportation here. The saying, "packed in here like sardines," comes to mind every single time that I ride a bus or hop onto the subway. On top of being squished in with a ton of people, you have to learn to "land surf" as the drivers take quick turns, accelerate, and stomp on the breaks (to avoid hitting someone or something). To say that driving (or riding) is crazy a complete understatement, but it's always an adventure!

A couple days ago some friends and I decided to go to Seoul to hike a mountain.  We took a taxi to the train station, and then rode the train to Seoul. After we got off the train @ Seoul Station, we took the subway for three stops. Then we jumped on a city bus that took us to the bottom of the mountain. Four forms of public transportation later, we finally arrived. 

Hiking in Korea is an experience because Koreans are some of the best-dressed people in the world. Most Koreans wear name-brand hiking clothing, to include the "hiking sticks" that people use to climb with. North Face & Mountain Hardwear are two of the most popular brands I see people wearing here, but it's true that you will hardly ever see Koreans hiking in  old or "bummy clothes." ON TOP OF THAT, Koreans and Americans differ drastically on our outlook of the sun. Many Americans (myself included) spend a day outside hoping to get a little color, but the Koreans we passed were covered from head to toe -- to include visors, hats, neck covers, gloves, umbrellas, and long sleeves that were tucked into their gloves! Pale is considered beautiful here, and many will do anything they can to ensure their skin stays that way. So while my friends and I were hiking in tank-tops and short-sleeved shirts (it was 80 degrees!!!), the majority of the people we passed were covered from the top down. It's interesting to see the cultural differences...

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