…Seoul, first impressions

We’ve been here just a little over a month now, and it’s high time I updated you all on our new digs. Here are some of my first impressions of the city/neighborhood.

1. It’s gosh darn cold. Yes, coming from Dhaka, we expected it to be cold. However, we arrived in time for the coldest and snowiest December on record, apparently. Is this payback for all those screamingly hot days in Dhaka? Either way, it’s barely broken above freezing most of the time we’ve been here, though the last few days have been a mild 35 degrees farenheit… as a high. Those kind of sweltering temperatures have allowed me to occasionally go out of the house without a full body mummy wrap, but mostly I just look wistfully outside, dreaming of spring. We’ve had tons of snow too, and Neko’s fun little toddler pull-sled arrived earlier this week with our last shipment of household goods, so she’ll be able to learn a little about what fun snow can be.

2. Everyone on base drives a white, late 90’s sedan. Ok, not everyone does, but nearly everyone seems to have one. Several of our neighbors have been kind enough to lend us cars so that we can go grocery shopping while we wait for our own, and every time we’re in the parking lot looking for these borrowed cars, we have to be very careful not to get into the wrong car, as they all look exactly alike. Thankfully, even though the car we’ve bought is also white, it’s more of a wagon/MPV, so we won’t lose it among the throngs, or at least not as much. It’s currently in the transfer process (from Korean-registered to diplomatic-registered vehicle), and we’re hoping to be able to start driving it by the end of the month. We tried to get a middle of the road car (pricewise, sizewise, etc.) which was surprisingly difficult. The car we ended up with will definitely take us around the base, but will also be reliable enough to go “out into Korea” on occasion.

3. Meeting people is HARD. Both due to the cold, and our untimely arrival (i.e. in the off season), there haven’t been many welcome events or invitations. Dhaka was fabulous for it’s community life, and so far… Korea is just not living up to my expectations. All the embassy families live in one neighborhood, so I expected to meet a lot of people and have play-date, coffee and other invitations all the time. But, instead, Neko and I spend most of our days cloistered quietly in the house. Another reason to dream of spring and the chance to encounter people outside. Everyone I’ve talked to about this agrees that summer’s the time to meet people. I’m trying to build up a friend list, but I only know about 3 people, and they all work during the day, so I’m kinda stumped for ideas. Luckily, there’s a play date scheduled for Friday, hopefully Neko won’t be asleep the whole time. They always seem to be at 10am, her preferred naptime.

4. Korea loves kids. When we go out with Neko, she’s a constant attraction for people of all ages. On the street, in the subway, at restaurants, etc… people take her photo, tap on glass to get her attention, allow her to pet (mangle) their furry coats, touch her toes… she’s a total star. I’m not sure if it is because she’s so popular, or because she enjoys getting out of the house, but she’s absolutely thrilled to see the Ergo or stroller getting prepped for an excursion. Sometimes she’ll even carry the Ergo into the living room, holding it out to me, begging to go somewhere (typically when it’s 3 degrees and snowing fiercely). The only neighborhood where she hasn’t been an absolute rockstar was Gangnam (yes, of the song). Are they too cool there?




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