Travelog: Seoul and Busan, South Korea, 2024

Written by Azat MardanJune 29, 2024

Seoul, South Korea 2023

  • No one checks tickets on trains and people leave laptops and phones on the tables in the cafes if they want to take a stroll. At the same time, there are a lot of prohibition signs and rules on the streets and in the buildings.

  • Airport is very efficient and even has a storage for food items that are prohibited to bring into the country so that people can pick them up on their return. Lockers are also available for at subway station and in the offices which is extremely convenient.

  • Koreans love sugar and carbs in any form: fruits, drinks and desserts. Things like watermelon juice, strawberry juice, all kinds of smoothies and tapioca teas. At the same time, there are fewer obese people than in North America.

  • Dental clinics are modern and even water dispensers are automatic (for rinsing). The prices for X-Rays, CT scans or diagnostics are a fraction of the cost in the USA.

  • Meat is mostly imported from Australia. There’s even Australian Wagyu. Aussie lamb is very good and affordable. Korean beef is Hanwoo and it’s their attempt at fatty marbled beef like Kobe.

  • At BBQ restaurants they sell meat by 100-150 grams unlike all you can eat in the USA. Also, they don’t use any marinades but mostly marbled and fatty cuts. In the USA k-bbqs use a lot of marinades (probably to mask poor quality of the meat).

  • Climate in summer is great. Not too hot and not too cold. In Seoul it’s not humid despite being close to the sea.

  • Some restaurants have tables with menus with photos which is great. Other cafes have self ordered touch screen computers which is also great. No need to speak with anyone, especially since they would probably not speak English well. Two restaurants had robots carrying orders to customers or carrying dirty plates to the back.

  • It’s hard to tell if kimchi soup is hot because of the spice or because of the temperature.

  • Taxi drivers are mostly old men and often like to drive like crazy. They accelerate and break with another foot (should be the same foot). Or they pulsate with acceleration to the point that passengers want to vomit.

  • Koreans pick English/Western names and relatively many speak English compared to Japan.

  • Koreans like ice in everything, even in their soups or just straight in the form of shaven ice dessert. The love for ice is probably influenced by the USA. Also, baseball is very popular here.

  • The cities are very efficient with good public transport and walking-distance convenience. The buildings are not boring at all, many of them are interesting. There’s a good balance with large screens and signs.

  • In some areas there are still old apartment buildings (that still probably cost over $1M USD). During the construction they cover the unfinished buildings and make them pretty.

  • Buildings often have underground shops or restaurants which are very convenient. There are canopies on the intersections for people to wait in the shadows instead of under rain or sun.

  • The parks, bike and walking trails along the Han river are amazing. There’s little to no trash on the streets and not even along the highways (which is the norm in the Americas).

  • Seoul has the sixth tallest building in the world.

Seoul is a great city to live in. It’s very modern and efficient. It offers nice conveniences for regular people and luxury for those who want it. The food is great and especially the meats. The downsides is the traffic. Language barrier is almost non-existent with a big population understanding basic English and the prevalence of translation apps. Busan is also a great city to visit. It’s a little more laid back than Seoul, but still has a lot to offer especially the beaches that are beautiful. If you’re looking for a fun and relaxing vacation, Busan is the place to go.