Many westerners think of warm weather, tropical rain forest, beach and elephants upon hearing the word “Asia.” True, but a lot of them forget that there are norther Asian countries and these countries can be freaking cold, with snow. The city of Seoul gets its regular dose of snow too, albeit not as much as American Midwest.
On January 4th and 5th, Seoul had a lot more snow compared to the average. It was about 10 inches. Media screamed that this is the largest amount of snow in 41 years. The entire city became winter snow pandemonium. Buses were delayed, if not flipped upside down; subways were packed with passengers for all day, not to mention delays; highways and bridges became a big parking lot; the city’s snow cleaning squad was not enough so the city called support for army’s Capital Defense Squad; about 3,500 army boys joined to clean the snow; the city lacked snow tractors/blowers so the mayor made an official statement, asking for help of everyone who has snow cleaning vehicle; subways and buses extended their business hour, running until 2 am. I was about 20 minutes late, yet I was the 3rd earliest. Officially excused to late, leave right on time and wear Ugg to work. Yay.
Despite the craziness and inconveniences, it was pretty funny to my eyes. In Great Lakes areas, it snows almost ever day for over 15 inches in winter. People are so used to it. Salts are regularly put on the road for thrice a day. Snow blowers go around 3-5 times per day. People, wearing their snow boots, fleece hat and gore-tex jacket, drive to work. That’s it. So the amount of snow did not surprised me; I was rather surprised by the entire metropolitan Seoul fell into a havoc and panick attack just because of 10 inch snow. I know Seoul is just not ready for this kind of snow, but it was still a new experience for me.
At the same time I really liked it. It reminded me so much of my days in Midwest – all that snow, white scenery, trees, snow piles on a road, cold, crisp, clear air, quietness, navy-blue evening sky…calmness. Great to listen to music. Pull out any music – snow and coldness makes it sound like 5 times better. Listening to Joy Division’s Atmosphere, I was just full of mellow, pleasing feeling of melancholy. I used to mindlessly bike around with my iPod on. I know I know, I will start complaining about snow and lack of urban conveniences once I go back. Maybe it’s not even the same Midwest I lived or remember. Maybe I am just fond of Midwest because I was lucky enough to meet people who are nice to me or share a lot with me only. Maybe it was just all daydream illusion. But I miss it – a corner of my heart does not want this Seoul snow melt away.