Monday, June 23, 2014

A smile goes a long way

Navigation is a great skill to have, for those of us that don't have this skill well we travel with people that do. Today was our first entirely free day and my travel buddy and I were pumped, we had a plan and we were going to shop till we dropped, then we got to the sub way.

We started out strong, we bought or ticket and proceeded towards our side of the station, as we boarded the metro we began to doubt our navigating abilities and got off at the very next stop. Upon getting off and gathering our bearings we realized we were indeed going the entirely wrong direction. We stood there grasping our metro maps deciding how to get to the correct side, we eventually found our way but, not before several people asked if we needed help.

Finally we made it to one of the many shopping districts and we were off, on a search for the best souvenirs  our won could buy. The first vendor we stopped at had the traditional items but we were in search of more. The next vender we came across was the best, it was a tiny treasure filled space. We began by trying to select I love Korea t-shirts,  but we could not figure out the sizing. The lady running the stand was extremely helpful, she sorted through the piles for us and soon came out with the shirts we had selected.

Next we ventured to pick out souvenir plates from the same vendor. These plates were tucked up on a shelf, right by the vendors seat, we were leery of going into her space to look at these items, but she quickly jumped from her seat and ushered us in to look. We selected our items, and began to pay, I had several other bags in my hands at this time, the vendor took note of this and offered me a larger sized bag than needed so I could combine everything into one.

Next we ventured on our way and continued to interact with the people in the various shopping areas. From this I noticed that the people were happy and friendly, even when the steady rain turned to a downpour, people still greeted us with a smile and a welcoming hello. People asked if we needed anything, they were great about helping us find our way, and they were always willing to lend a helping hand.

We approached the city with an open mind and a smile and it responded in the same way. I would not have thought that Seoul, Korea's largest city, would be so welcoming, but this really is a country geared towards hospitality. I can honestly say that even through all of the confusion of the subway and navigating around the city that I did not have any bad moments because I knew I would be able to approach anyone with a smile and they would try to help me.

This one day of city shopping and exploring has really shown a new light on the culture here in Korea.

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