Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sights Unseen

On this morning the sky outside my window started with a blueness and then faded into clouds. I woke up knowing it was the day I venture out of the house and take the bus into downtown. I was a little nervous inside because this meant going out of my comfort zone and finding out what Seattle is like. When I lived in San Francisco I could recall the stench and unfriendliness of street people. Maybe it was me but for the most part the urban life of San Fran felt sometimes dreadful. Don't worry it wasn't like that all the time, but it kind of put me in a frame of mind for heading downtown.

I took these snapshots while waiting for the bus, which is not too far from my house. I love the old Western style architecture you can find out here. Even though it can look shabby in some places I had to admire it. In Seoul, the only real signs of old architecture are in the palaces or narrow alleyways. Hanoks were lovely to look at and I'll miss seeing them, but the reality was that I didn't see thoughtful or historical architecture on a daily basis when living there. Certainly the frenzied array of neon lights and varying storefronts was interesting, but after five years that got really repetitive. I will give Korea credit for the way they built up their cities, is that you can take care of most daily activities quickly due to everything being so close together.

My first bus ride into the city was as mundane and simple as it could be. Yet I noted the differences between a bus ride in Seoul and one here in Seattle. Wheelchair riders sat in the front hooked up to the bus and were lifted down to the street (I've seen it before). In Seoul, I mostly saw handicapped riders on the subway. Indeed, Korea has a long way to go to make their facilities, including sidewalks, friendly to those in wheelchairs.

I also enjoyed seeing the sites out my window, which was first the International District of Chinese and Vietnamese noodle shops. I scoped out some places that looked like they would be a good place to eat.

Then, as we approached the downtown, I found the height of the buildings somewhat comforting and the layout familiar. The urban space seems to have become a part of me, and I no longer feel like a tiny person amongst the towering cityscape.

When I got off the bus I was surprised to see the majest Public Library to one side and a body of water on the other. I'm going to need to brush up on my geography here!

On this trip I had some missions I needed to get done. First was get my WA license at the DMV. I don't really know the last time I was at a DMV, so it was a fun experience. I took my number and waited patiently. The process was fairly simple and I didn't need to take any tests except one for my eyes. There was a snafu with my debit card, but luckily I had the right amount of cash on me. I got a temporary license for now, but should have the plastic version in a few weeks. One happy note was that they didn't take my California license, instead they just punched a hole in it.

My next mission was to get a new phone and have it be attached to my family's family plan. I got that done although have some issues to resolve with the phone company. Afterwards had a light lunch of sushi. Actually, I missed Americanized sushi a lot and this was a real treat for me. The place I went to had the "Seattle Roll", which was really good. Sorry no pics, I'm not sure if we are allowed to take pics of our food anymore.

Spotted this food truck on my walk around town, which got me excited as it has been a craze lately. I visited the City Target and picked up a trash can amongst other things. Then before I headed to the bus stop I took a peek at this Ferris Wheel and admired the view.

Even though I didn't do much touristy stuff I got to see the layout of downtown and get a feel for it. My impression so far is that this city is not too dirty, people are somewhat friendly and it's not too crowded. Really not crowded! Especially when you consider where I am coming from. I suppose the place might be different on the weekend or during rush hour.

Plus it was just one bus ride into downtown and that helps. Although I might still end up with a car! Who knows ~

People say one experiences "reverse culture shock" when returning to America and get all sad about it. I feel like I'm having the opposite affect...more like "reverse culture appreciation"...haha. Maybe it will hit me later when all my bills come in. ;)

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