Alma Nuutinen’s blog
Precisely one month ago I traveled to South Korea and spent undoubtedly one of my best autumn holidays there. I did not know much about the country apart from its Northern neighbour, plastic surgery and cosmetic industry, but as always when traveling, I was eager to learn.
The first thing I noticed after I left the airport was the public transport, particularly its efficiency, cleanliness and affordability. Few months back I was in Mumbai, India. Using the public transportation there was challenging, mildly expressed, so I ended up taking a cab more than I have ever done before. Of course riding a cab is quite affordable in India, if you manage to not get ripped off, however, if you are a Western tourist you most probably will get ripped off. Therefore, to be able to trust your transportation completely and how effortless it was to go from one place another was a luxurious feeling.
A city such as Seoul is alive around the clock, one of the reasons why I love big cities. I did not run out of things to do once and did not spend a lot of money doing them (if shopping is not included), as most of the prominent museums did not charge an admission fee, and even those that did were very affordable if not downright cheap.
Even though India, too, was extremely interesting in terms of culture and history, the ever present lack of safety was quite disturbing whenever I went outside of my hostel. Indeed, even my receptionist told me not to go out alone (i.e without a male convoy), an advice I truly paid my mind to. In Seoul, as a lone female, I felt safer than I do in Finland at 11pm. In my opinion that strongly suggests something about safety.
Rarely do I say I want to go back after I have traveled somewhere, but Seoul is definitely a place I would visit again. The culture, history, people, food and prices do a good job luring you back. Most people are rather shy with their English, but extremely friendly and helpful nevertheless. The only thing I do have complaints about is the insecurity you might start to feel in a society that strongly relays on ones looks. In India it was actually quite liberating to try and look as plain as I could whereas in Seoul I looked at the swollen after-surgery faces in the streets and wondered the reasons behind each of them.
All in all I love how in such a short time I got to see two very different sides of Asia. There clearly is no answer to which one is better, but the one that fits my preferences is South Korea.
Text by Alma Nuutinen