Monday, December 13, 2010

Culture shock, phase one.

I'm in Seoul, enjoying the free internet at the airport. It is a cold day in South Korea, so cold I could see my breath as I stepped outside, so cold that the windows on the bus glazed over with a thick fog as we traveled the hour and a half from the airport into the city center, so cold that my leggings and sandals weren't quite suitable attire. No images to share today; no fully formed thoughts either.

An extended layover provided me with an opportunity to explore the city, and I accidentally ending up in one of city's main shopping areas. Today, as I watched the life on the streets, I felt a similar sensation to that when I traveled through central Russia and finally made it to Moscow. It's how I felt wandering through the city--one stocked with high-heeled women who could (amazingly) do stilettos on ice/snow--in the grubby travel gear that sustained me through the Siberian winter: out of place and wayyyy under-dressed, an outsider.

This morning, I sat and just stared for what felt like hours. Fine, I stared in appreciation at all the great shoes and coats women wore. I noticed how well-kept they appeared. I noticed how the streets were clean, how movement was orderly. I noticed the seatbelts in the bus (wow). I noticed how much more expensive food and transport were. And it became really evident to me that I've been living in a third world country, without much of the modernity and creature comforts to which I had grown accustomed, for a good chunk of the year. And I will continue to do so next year.

I wonder how Los Angeles will feel. My plane boards in 30 minutes.

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