Sunday, June 24, 2012

Postcard from Seoul (Part 2)

(Part 1 is here.)

In the last picture in the previous blog entry,repeated below, one can see the Hangang (Han River) and one of the bridges in this distance when looking south from the Seoul Tower.

Here is one of those bridges (there are 27 in Seoul). We're looking north back towards the Seoul Tower (visible in the distance if you enlarge the picture) from the south bank of the river.

The Hangang is very shallow and wide (up to 2km in places). Since it is shallow, there is no commercial traffic along the river.

As I mentioned in part 1, Seoul seems particularly people-friendly. As further evidence of this, there seems to be an extensive network of bike paths along the river. As a cyclist, I wished I had my bike with me. I saw a lot of cyclists (not just this dude) using the path next to the bridge:

It's difficult to tell from pictures alone, but I'd much rather be leisurely biking along the Hangang than along the Hudson river bike path in New York City. Seoul just seems to have that relaxed feeling I've never experienced in any other mega-metropolis.

The reason why I'm visiting this out-of-the-way bridge is that Seoul has this seemingly unique concept of building lookout cafés at some of the bridges.

I hung around until sunset and then had a drink upstairs at the Gureum lookout café whilst taking in the city view:

Very, very cool indeed. It's not spectacular like Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong at night, see below, but I can't imagine wanting to ride my bike in metropolitan Hong Kong.

(The two available-light night pictures above are evidence of the clear superiority of cameras released in 2012 compared to those of just three years ago. Both pictures were shot at f/2.0 (wide open) with the 12mm Olympus lens. But the key is that they were taken with a shutter speed of 1/5sec *handheld*, and although it's hard to tell from the reduced-for-the-web picture size, both pictures are remarkably free of blur from camera shake. That's Olympus's new image stabilizer. A considerable improvement over the stabilizer in the 3 year old E-P1. Since the shutter speed can be slow, this has the bonus of allowing for a relatively noiseless ISO 200.)

Anyway, I digress.. back to Seoul. How to get to Café Gureum? Take the subway to Dongjak station. Take exit 1 and walk to the bridge.

The subway is very easy to use. Stations seemed priced according to distance. I bought single-use tickets at the machine (English language instructions are available).

At the end of the journey, I'm surprised you get to keep the ticket. But wait, there's a refund machine. You get 500 won back when you give up the ticket.

On the trains, it's interesting to see everyone busy on their (mostly Samsung) smartphones. However, they're not yapping on the phone. Rather, it seems everyone is running some kind of text chat program (maybe Ktalk here?) or browsing the web.

Like in Hong Kong this year, in Seoul that unmistakable Samsung phone with the huge screen (Galaxy S III, mostly in white) seems to have broken Apple's lock on the cool smartphone market. Previously, it seemed that everyone in Asia wanted to have and to be seen with an iPhone 4. Now clearly, the nearly 5" screen Samsung rules. Especially since in Asia, people seem to have moved beyond the voice (phone call) paradigm. Smartphones are mostly for text chat and web browsing. And when voice is reduced to a subsidiary role, the 5" screen is no longer an encumbrance. At any rate, every other person I encountered seems to be sporting one. A Hong Kong friend commented that it has superceded her iPad.

Next. Part 3 here.

1 comment:

  1. The last photo is precious ... a modern society of communicators. As always, a very observant eye behind the lens. Thank you!