Being from New York City, I will always do what New Yorkers do best when travelling abroad. And by that, I mean compare everything I see to New York. It’s inevitable, and perhaps annoying. Just before I came to Seoul, I was in London visiting friends. At every opportunity, I would comment on something and how it compared to its NYC equivilent.
“You’ve got cobblestone streets! We certainly don’t have many of those in New York.”
“Your train platforms have signs telling you when the next train is coming? New York SO needs to get that.”
“London’s thing seems to be Indian Food. New York’s is Chinese.”
And so on, ad nasuem. In most every city, this unavoidable comparison instantly occurs. But now I am in Seoul, so here I go again. The first order of business… signs.
Signs are all over. You can’t turn in any direction without being assaulted by signs of every shape, size and color. These buildings are called “office-tels”, each which contain any number of business, restaurants and shops crammed onto the lower floors and affordable housing on the higher ones (yours truly lives in one of these. More on that another day). I suppose competition is fierce, and they are all in a mad mad dash to gain your attention. Hence, the garish signs plastered over every square surface of each building.
But night-time. Oh, the night time. That’s when they truly come to life:
My crap photography can’t do this justice. This picture only shows you one angle from very far away. Believe me when I say that it’s impossible to capture the experience on film. When I stepped off the bus on the first night of my arrival, my eyes exploded and my brain burst into flames.
However, after a few days of being exposed to all this, I am finding it quite lovely. New York is many things (there I go again), but colorful certainly isn’t one of them. This neon smorgasbord has really become a beautiful symphony of color and light. There’s always something to engage your attention, no matter what direction you’re looking in. In NYC, it’s very easy to find yourself staring at the sidewalk while walking around. I’m finding that very difficult to do here.
Perhaps my posture will improve as a result.