Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Life in Gwangmyeong City: Part 1

So far, most of the posts on this blog have centred on South Korea's capital city, Seoul, mostly because that's where I've spent most of my weekends and where I've done most of my sightseeing.
But technically, I don’t live in Seoul at all. During the week I live and work in Gwangmyeong, which is a separate city in its own right. Sure, it’s on the metro and is only half an hour or so from downtown Seoul. But technically it’s outside the boundaries of the city.
It’s quite fitting I should live in such a place, since my own hometown of Romford has a similar status, being technically an Essex town yet also lying within Greater London’s urban sprawl.
And I guess, like Romford, Gwangmyeong is not the most charming or charismatic suburb to live in. It’s noisy, polluted, busy and somewhat drab (especially on cloudy days). But it’s still Korea, and so it has enough strange, exotic things to keep a foreigner like me entertained. Each Sunday I like to go for a little walk around the area, exploring and taking photos.
In this post I'll show you some of the stuff I've encountered in Gwangmyeong so far. But before we check out the city…let’s take a look at my apartment:

This is the building I live in. It's only a minute's walk from my school, which makes me feel pretty lucky, especially as I've met some teachers who've been placed in apartments over half an hour away from their workplace. I especially appreciate it now that the mornings are getting pretty cold!
I live on the ninth floor. There's no key to my apartment, only a code to unlock the door.
And this is my main living space. You can't see it but just to the right is a small kitchen area, which I haven't used a whole lot because it's pretty cheap to eat out in Korea. Another thing you can't see is the underfloor heating system. I haven't had to switch on my heating a whole lot so far, as the heat from my neighbours' apartments has kept me pretty snug. But whenever I do it's nice to feel the warmth of the floor on my feet.
Here's the view from my apartment window. There's a Chinese school directly in front of me, but fortunately it's nowhere near as noisy as the school I work in.
And this is a school football ground I can see from my window.
Another view from my apartment block.
This is a golden horse by the shops in Cheolsan, the part of Gwangmyeong where I live. There's usually someone selling clothes by here.
From Cheolsan one can follow this road into central Gwangmyeong.
Along the way, there are lots of vendors selling food on the sidewalk.
There's also a guy selling...eels.
Just off the main road is Gwangmyeong Sijang, a really cool indoor market that reminds me of the bazaars in Turkey.

The market has several different avenues to explore

Some streets just near the market.

One of my favourite places in the city is this tributary of the Anyangcheon, which is itself a tributary of the River Han that runs through Seoul.
It's quite a pretty place to go for a walk, and provides a quiet refuge from the noisy, smog-ridden streets nearby.

Some more street scenes in the city.

There's a pretty nature park in the city, populated by hikers and dog-walkers.
At the top of the park is a memorial statue. I'm not sure what for, as the sign was only in Korean.
A view of the city through the leaves.

Back at street level.

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