The most famous place on the planet at the moment is probably Gangnam. It is an area in Seoul's south that is both affluent and plastic. Home to Asia's best plastic surgeons and the type of people that would use them, along with the cars they would drive. I was told that plastic surgery is a popular gift to graduating students from their proud parents. Makes the waterfront lunch in Geelong, Mum and Dad bought me look tame. Young Korean's would rather get thier boobs, noses and eyelids (most popular apparently) than enjoy a steak with the folks. It is also a place of commerce, with many businesses and conventions taking place there. It is for that reason I was in Seoul, Korea. It feels as though the work component of the trip has overtook the travel side. I didn't really get to sit down and enjoy the three course cultural meal of Seoul as I had planned. It was more like I 'sat at the bar and had drink, promising myself I must come back properly'. I was fortunate enough to be shown around by some locals so did get enough of a peek.
Business in Korea is a consuming and homo-erotic affair. Koreans work all the time! It seems the notion of holidays, like vegetarianism, is foreign to them. It is also common to see pairs of chummy business fellow's walking arm draped over each other discussing mergers and acquisitions. If not wearing a business suit, most Koreans seem to favor Jeans and runners. This is ultimately the birthplace of this controversial look. Gangnam style seems to translate to Levi's and Nike's, making Jerry Seinfeld a sartorial icon before his time.
Beef is a popular dish in Korea. So popular I don't actually know if any other food is served. That is an exaggeration. They have various pickled vegetables and greens, but they all seem to serve as a vessel for beef. In my 4 days there, I had beef twice a day. There is now so much iron in my blood that I am negotiating with China for the mining rights to it. The food is amazing though! Most nights it was BBQ, but I managed a burger or two from Kraze Burgers...off their all beef menu. The most popular burger is known as the 'Cow Stack'. It is a beef pattie served with cheese, pickles, mayo wedged between two outer beef patties.
It was hard but I took in some historic sites when I could. I took a couple of early morning walks in the crisp air to a temple and also King's park. It was coming out of Autumn, and the trees looked like they were on visual fire...but not in a Moses or Black Saturday way. The temple was an interesting experience. It was very busy with locals praying ,but still managed to be serene despite being in the center of a city. However, I am always suspicious of a church or holy place that has its own ATM on premises. Again, I saw another bunch of offerings to shrines, carrying on the Asian tradition. These God's seemed like they were running a restaurant, as everybody kept bringing them rice.
Korea is easy enough to get around with only English and working legs. Most signs and shops are also in English. Such businesses as 'Beer Bang' and 'Skin Food'. I hope the latter is not what it sounds like. There are enough cosmetic places around as it is. I did see a delightful little bistro that offered up an array of dog. Out front was a simple handmade sign showing your choice of doberman, poodle, maltese or bisou with complimentary kimchi. Kimchi is the other Psy of Korea, it is everywhere and made mostly of cabbage.
Seoul as a city is huge. It is sprawling like I'd imagine LA, has the stature of New York but reminds me mostly of Vancouver. It is extremely clean and well presented much like it's people. However I didnt get a sense of much substance. The saying goes "South Korea has Seoul" . I also hear North Korea has a military dictatorship and that sounds much more interesting to visit.