The food is mostly steamed, boiled, or roasted; not fried. Thought Koreans are fond of coffee – and it's not because it is fashionable, they seldom take some at breakfast. But all kinds of coffee shops are full of customers. One can even have a jelly-coffee!
When I was by myself, everyday I tried a different dish at restaurant. The last day I asked for noodles with an egg on top, and showed the picture on the wall. But as I don't like cold noodles (a Korean specialty), I showed the blue and the pink buttons of the water machine to the waitress, saying and gesturing "No" for the cold-blue and "Yes" for the warm-pink. She seemed having got my thought, but she brought me – with a large smile – a big glass of hot water together with my noodles in a still half-chilled broth.
Once, while visiting a historical site, my host had to call his son (who studies in China) because there was a word I know only in Chinese and he spoke only a little English. He unfolded his handkerchief to cover his cell phone, and explained to me that the use of cell phone was forbidden in public places, on bus and subway, and in parks. There is no music in stations, stores, and taxis. People talk in low voice, on a sweet tone. Just like a song! You can imagine how I found the voice volume striking on my return to Beijing!
Smoking also is forbidden in several "green zones" even in the open air. I was told that 50 percent of the Koreans smoke, but in fact, I was disturbed by a cigarette smell only three times in two weeks.
Museums are often free or the admission price is very reasonable. Seoul National Museum is huge, like History. So I concentrated on the Unified Shilla Period. Families with children were visiting as summer holidays were still lasting. Chinese families were the most numerous among foreign and local tourists, but their interests and behavior were different. Would you hear someone laugh loudly, or shout, you unfortunately knew where they were from.
Catholic and protestant churches can be seen anywhere, but Buddhism is the major religion. However, temples and imperial palaces are much smaller than those in China, and their decoration is modest in comparison. I was following a group of Chinese tourists when I heard the guide saying that there was no one building over 30 years old, that all had been destroyed by the Japanese hundreds of times, and rebuilt recently.
From that guide I learned two other interesting things: Indian dragons have six claws at each foot, Chinese ones have five, Korean, four, and Japanese, three. I had never paid attention to that. The other information was that only 11 of the 12 Zodiacal animals were represented in the palace we were visiting. The Dog was missing, "because it was considered dirty," said the guide. "Dog meat was eaten by the poor only."