Seoul Experiences a la Airbnb #1: Gangnam with Brian
GETTING AROUND IN SEOUL:
It's Friday in Seuol. My phone buzzed a few alerts for extreme heat and bad ozone. I had planned to stay in this morning anyway.
I've now been here officially one week. I have mastered the art of subway/Metro riding which, in my humble opinion, is nicer than traveling by bus (with which I have also become acquainted).
The Seoul subway system is quite extraordinary, but be forewarned. It's a complete multi-layered labyrinth where one must negotiate long lobbies, many stairs (there are elevators if need be), escalators and a large population of subway riders. It's done wonders for my exercise and weight loss program!
Each subway line is numbered and color coded. There are a few that have actual line names ie Bundang line and such. That threw me at first but now I know. There are signs in Korean and English pointing the way. I notice many Koreans trying to find their way too.
When you arrive at the right line be sure you are going in the right direction. I've had to go back and find my way to the other side on occasion. Just the kind of supplemental exercise I needed - NOT! On the subway itself there is an automated announcement in Korean and English for each stop. I carry a handy subway map in English with me at all times to follow the stops.
Some stations are more crowded than others. During rush hour you can get packed like sardines. Koreans are well mannered and civilized though. Everyone waits to let riders exit before entering the car. No-one pushes or shoves. Your "personal" space is maintained as well as can be in such situations.
The subway trains and buses are air conditioned which is absolute bliss when coming in from the blazing hot sun! You get a chance to temporarily dry your sweaty face and clothing! Many travelers carry cute little electric hand-held fans with them.
Another welcomed benefit - restrooms! There are plenty of them and they're kept fairly clean as is much of Seoul in general it seems. At least from what I've seen in one short week. There are also stores, vendors, food booths and rest areas. All in all it's a pretty well designed underground world. But I digress.
|Keeping the subway stations clean|
With this blog (which will be presented in parts - this is Experience blog #1) I hope to enlighten you about a really great touring site: Airbnb Experiences! Who woudda thought? I've been using Airbnb to find homes away from home while touring. Others have reported occasional dissatisfaction with them but, so far, knock on wood, I've found them very useful. By the way, if you register with them please mention my name. We'll both get some discounts.
Anyway, lately the site has been sending those annoying pop-ups advertising various things. I usually ignore them but for some reason one day I didn't. I'm very happy to tell you that Airbnb has a program where local residents can submit a proposal for what is called an "Experience". I have to say that these experiences are quickly becoming the highlight of my stay in Korea so far. In fact I may be in danger of becoming an addict! Read on and you'll find out why...
EXPERIENCE #1: Walking Tour of Gangnam by Moonlight with Brian Min
Starting with the COEX square, which recently opened in March 2018, we will walk through three divisions of the Gangnam District—Samseong-dong, Cheongdam-dong, and Apgujeong-dong. Along the way, we will hit monumental spots, including some K-Pop locations, and I will provide handfuls of knowledge and history about the neighborhoods. Throughout the tour, we will also discuss what everyday Korean life is like. We will then return to where we started at Samseong Station to say "see you later."
I can't speak highly enough about Brian, our local "experience" guide. Brian is a very friendly, outgoing and knowledgeable young man who was born and raised in Gangnam. As a teen he studied at the school of the stars just because he lived in the neighborhood. So he has some fun memories and insights to share about stardom. He completed his college education in North Carolina with a major in Psychology and Women's Studies! Whoa, wait a minute. Women's studies? Feminism? What? He explained that it was a required course but it ended up really interesting him. What he gained from this was a new and different perspective on understanding life. WOW! Very cool indeed. You might enjoy hearing about this topic when you go on your tour! Ten years in America helped him "learn English or die" as he put it. He returned to Korea about three years ago, finished his mandatory military two-year service in the Korean air force, and now holds down three part-time jobs as he settles back into life. This is one of his jobs.
Clearly this tour was designed just for me!! Out from under the sweltering sun and under the moonlight. Ahhh, sweet moonlight, how this night bird loves you so! YES! Gangnam has become well-known because of the Korean singer/dancer, Psy, who has recently met with global success with his hit song, Gangnam Style. It's not exactly my favorite in the K-Pop world but hey, I can't account for people's taste now can I? Check out this funny version. Sorry, digressing again.
Psy's Golden Hands; a monument in honor of his global hit song:
As described, Brian took us (three attendees) for a long but thrilling walk around the highlights of the Gangnam area. I won't give away all the great information he shared. You'll just have to take the tour yourselves! However, I will share a few photos below. Most importantly, Brian and I have started a new friendship. We plan to get together again while I'm still in Seuol to share some singing.
Here's a huge plus. Brian has volunteered to help me in my quest, my impossible dream to follow and reach that unreachable star... XIA-Kim Junsu --- no matter how hopeless, no matter how far! I am climbing every mountain for sure! Thank you G-D!!! Thank you Brian! See you later!
COEX Plaza and home for K-Pop Entertainment