Go and Explore
People often ask me how I find all the places I find here in Seoul. I’ll tell ya, it’s not easy.
It takes hours and hours and hours, sometimes days, of research, and then days of building up the courage to just set out in search for a place and be prepared to get lost. I have no Korean translator handy to fill me in on the details.
Since I can read Hangeul, I usually can click around on a Korean website until I find a link to a map. Then I sit with my MANY maps of Seoul and surrounding areas and try to make out the name of a subway station near my destination.
Once I find something I can identify as a station, by the word “yuk” after a name, I get out my subway map and find the area of the station, the line and the distance from my house.
After this point, you’d think it would be simple enough to just get on the train and head out there, but, for me, that feels risky. Since I don’t know the area I’m going to, don’t know how long it will take me and will have three kids in tow, the train is no friend to me. Instead, I pile everyone in my car, type the name of the nearest station into my Navi (GPS) and drive out there on my own. I usually make a day of it and give the kids strict instructions about noise level in the car while I’m driving. It’s nerve-wracking, I won’t lie. However, I feel a little bit in control when I can drive myself. The vast majority of my friends here in Seoul don’t drive. It can be scary to drive here, and with the rude honking of horns, no one tolerates mistakes, but after all is said and done, it IS just driving and I’ve been doing that since I was 16. I drove in Tokyo and small suburbs of Japan on the opposite side of the road. Here in Seoul, I drive my right-hand driver mini-van on the left-hand driver roadways. If I can manage that, I hope others will feel brave enough to drive their cars around too.
Exploring the city you live in can be empowering and insightful, especially if you live in an amazing city like Seoul where you could spend an entire lifetime and still not see everything wonderful to do here. Every time I venture out I learn amazing things that change my life, alter my perceptions or broaden my horizons.
Go ahead and explore. Get out there and just do it. Find what works for you and explore the city where you live. Then, post here and tell me about your trips. They don’t have to be in Seoul or even in Korea. I’d love to know about a cool place near your house so that I can plan a trip and we could meet for coffee.