Oh sure Korea has cars. With cars come roads, traffic, bad drivers, and all the other joys of cars. Oh and smog...Seoul has LOTS of that.
But Korea has made the decision, as have many European countries, that they want to limit the number of people driving. There are a couple ways of doing this. Cuba just doesn't import any cars. But as one of the major companies here makes cars (have you ever heard of Daewoo, Hyudai or Kia) So instead they tax the gasoline up the wazoo.
As much as people abhor extra gas taxes...and Koreans are no exception...it's not necessarily that take taxes, it's what they do with them. Seoul's public transportation is going to be one of the primary things I miss when I leave.
The buses run until 1:00 am and start at 5:00. They are clean, usually not crowded and come very often.
The subway is AMAZING. It is clean. It comfortable. Ok, sometimes it's too way too crowded. But it takes me everywhere I want to go in Seoul.
If I want to get away for the weekend, I can take a bus and go anywhere in Korea for cheap.
How cheap? The standard bus/subway fare in Korea is 900 won or about 75 cents. If I have to travel from one end of Seoul to the other...I many have to pay up to $1.50..the horror is overwhelming!
But...how in the world can Korea afford such an amazing system? Simple, they tax their gas resulting in the 8th highest price in the world. 1600 won/liter. (I guess I need to convert that into a non-metric system for those of you in the 3 countries in the world that are NOT on the metric system...you know Lybia, Myanmar/Burma...and the 3rd county slips my mind at the moment...for the other 170 countries out there...good for you) That's $5.15 cents..day in and day out.
Instead of driving SUVs, Jimmy's and full sized trucks (I know who you are...) The take a LOT of public transportation. They also use motorcycles and mopeds. A LOT. Pizza drivers in America are usually driving beat up used cars.
Well, in case you haven't noticed yes, this isn't Korea. In Korea, delivery is done by motorcycle. Period. Everything from Chinese food, Pizza, and yes even McDonalds...delivers via motorcycle. But with gas ALWAYS above $5...how else is there to drive?
The curious thing about motorcycle/moped drivers here is that they don't exactly follow the same rules as the cars. And that's really saying something as the rest of Korean drivers don't exactly follow many rules either.
But at least the cars stick to the roads.
The mopeds drive on the roads...they drive on the sidewalks...they drive everywhere. If they are stuck at a red light...instead of waiting...they'll fly onto the sidewalk...once they get sick of weaving around pedestrians on the sidewalk, they jump back onto the road...where they manage to out-do the taxi drivers for crazy, reckless driving...again...another impressive feat.
So the next time you're filling up the gas tank of your gas guzzling monster...remember...the mopeds are coming and at up to 100 mpg (sorry to all my metric fans out there) you'll be ahead of the curve because as soon as gas stays above $5.00 that's what half the country will be driving.