Saturday, October 4, 2008

where I live

I live in Bangbae-1(Il-) dong, in Seocho-gu, Seoul Korea. This is a relatively new and wealthy area on the South Bank of the inner city (there are many more related towns around it, which is how still about half of the country's population ends up working & living here)

I have my own apartment within an apartment-complex (Toti Hill Castle, 931-3, Keum-Kang Kil)
It is perfect for one person and I find it very comfortable. I really like the heightened wooden floor and that there is an actual space where I can leave behind my shoes / sandals, or even put them away into a cupboard.
Everything is spaced very efficiently, I even have cupboard space left. And I really like it that I have two to three cups, two large plates, two larger Korean eating bowls and two smaller bowls, pans, very good kitchen knives, two pairs of chopsticks, spoons, forks, knives etc. I have my own washing machine for clothes on the balcony, as is customary here. The programming can be very exact, how much water to use, for how long, how many flushes. And it's customary to wash with cold water, then hang it out to dry.

The heating system works very well: one hour of floor-heating is enough to be warm for the evening, all over, even when it is -10 degrees Celsius outside. I wish average Dutch houses had similar heating efficiency...

The cutest phone ever!
And a dish with delicious persimmons fruits of the season, together with a gift from a friend...

The location is excellent: traffic is nearby & multiple, subway or buses, it is close to work at the University, the main organic supermarket of the city is 6 min. from me, there is an organic dry-clean about one block away. There is a very friendly small night-shop, another supermarket above, and some nice eateries near the bus-station / subway station. Really everything one can need in daily life.

Unlike in Rotterdam, recycling is mandatory and very easy: just put all that can be recycled (paper, plastics, glass) into any kind of clear plastic bags, same kinds together. The general trash is collected in special bags for which one has to pay, this is at the same time the fee for garbage collection. If you have a lot of (larger) trash, you pay more... Collecting recyclables is free.

I notice that the houses in this neighbourhood are sometimes not at all new or slick. Sometimes the brickstones are a bit withered, there are cracks in the pavement, as if they were rather old already. And this is not such an old neighbourhood at all. I like this a lot, it reminds me of the area of where my grandparents used to live in Budapest.

Quite a few houses are unfinished or are separated from the street with giant wrapping while they are in the process of being demolished inside (an excellent idea to wrap the house, so that the dust won't get around the neighbourhood). But I guess that to actually have a house on your own is already quite something, rather than to live in one of the mega-flats which are housing many thousands of people in perhaps even smaller apartments than mine.

And it's not like the average Korean wouldn't need that much space bodywise. I may be a bit taller here than average, but that is also statistical: the elder generation who are now in their 50s and 60s has many people about 2/3rds of my length. But otherwise there are more than enough adult men and also women who easily come very close to or match my size, or are taller than me.

How do they all fit in? The proportions of cars, houses, shops, is in general lower and a tiny bit more narrow, than what I'm used to even in the Netherlands, though not as narrow and tight as Belgium, where houses can tend to be even more vertical and narrow (at least in Antwerp and Brussels) ...

This fan was available for free at the National Museum. Korean history impressed me a great deal, what an amazing achievement of a people in such little time...
The fan was also excellent to avoid the electric fan and for killing the very aggressive, but actually more easy to kill mosquitos ...

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