20 interesting things I noticed around Seoul Korea
1. These elegant kiosks can be found around the city and sell cold drinks, newspapers, and other odds and ends. They are also used for shoe repair and other useful purposes. Similar kiosks can be found in most other cities in the world, but not in Vancouver. Hmmm.
2. Idling Tour Buses are a major source of pollution, especially around popular sites in Vancouver. However, this unusual looking bus is powered by electricity.
3. Some Korean taxis are fitted with ‘interpretation devices’ to accommodate foreign tourists. They would be helpful in Vancouver…and not just for foreign tourists!
4. After baseball games, a pretty young girl gets to interview the team manager, who acts disconnected and gruff, just like most American managers, regardless of whether they win or lose!
5. Seoul’s subway system incorporates a very easy to use Smart Card system. I know we’re getting one too, but I just hope it’s as extensive and easy to use. Transit is very cheap, perhaps thanks in part to the item below.
6. Seoul's subway system generates considerable advertising revenue from electronic billboards along station platforms and inside the cars. The video system is also used to provide easy to follow directions.
7. In some Seoul gas stations, the pumps drop from above. I have no idea how this works or why, but it was odd to see. But it reminded me, why don’t we build small gas stations into the base of new buildings in Vancouver similar to what one sees in Europe. (Don’t tell me it’s a liability issue!)
8. Seoul has a Press Arbitration Commission. I have no idea what it does but it sounds like the sort of thing we need in Vancouver!
9. I saw a lot of attractive planting down the middle of some streets and in planters. We could do so much more in Vancouver, and not just to separate bicycle lanes. Check out Gilbert and No 2 Roads in Richmond to see what is possible.
10. McDonalds does home and office deliveries in Seoul. This is something we don’t need!
11. In many locations one comes across these public declarations of love. I think we could do without them too!
12. Seoul is getting a new City Hall built around a portion of its old City Hall. This is something we need…but maybe not just yet! But time to start planning?
13. Koreans, like the Japanese, often wear outfits with ridiculous English words and expressions. Who makes up this stuff? And while we’re at it, what does the railway company mean by “Fast, but Slow Life” as stated on their magazine cover? (Someone told me the Koreans like English words, even if they don’t understand them, to demonstrate they are becoming global. Hmmm.)
14. I saw a lot of beautiful and interesting Public Art around Seoul. While the Vancouver scene is improving thanks to the Biennale, we could do much more in this regard. Coming soon on my blog…the best public art installation I have ever seen….it’s at EXPO 2012!!!
15. The connections from some Seoul subway stations to surrounding development sites and streets can be very convenient. While we may not need such extensive and complex links, we certainly could improve on what we have built. I mean, just look at Cambie and 49th!
16. Seoul’s bridges become works of art at night with exquisite lighting and even spraying water. I think there’s a lot we might do with our SkyTrain pylons and other similar structures. Although we might do without the spraying water!
17. While the Seoul City Tour Bus does not offer a very good commentary, it does have excellent translation equipment and headphones when compared to most cities. But check the limited choice of languages offered.
18. There is an unusual fascination with American things from the 50’s and 60’s. It’s not just the chocolate brownies…you should hear some of the music!
19. The 19th thing is something I didn’t see. Graffiti tagging!
20. Finally, we really should start installing these hi-tech toilets in more hotels and homes. They really make our practices in the bathroom seem quite old-fashioned!
- post by Michael Geller