'Poste Restant' Goes Digital

Your PO Box Away From Home :
List of Paris' Cyber Cafés

Paris, Wednesday, 10. January 1996:- As I spend a good part of each day in front of my own bright, digital, 'glotze;' - which is German for staring at something, usually a video screen - I have no desire to go out and have a drink in a place full of them. In an earlier earlier feature, I described the first Café Orbital, near the bourse. Since then, there has been a explosion of the genre in Paris.

Still, I would not write about them - if it were not for the surprise arrival of an email message the other day from Korea, from my nephew, Gene. I was vaguely aware of having heard recently that Gene was someplace in Asia, but I had completely forgotten where or when.

He writes that he is in this web café in Korea, and he finds the Paris Pages - we really are everywhere - and he sends me a message through this way, as he either doesn't know, or has forgotten my email address.

Which made me think; there is more to a web café than 'un express' and a half-hour online. Through these cafés you can keep in touch with home, and home can keep in touch with you - along the lines of: 'In good health; send $125 c/o American Express, Paris,' or 'Oscar, all is forgiven, come home, we love you.'

Therefore, if you expect to be in Paris, I suggest you 'save' this page and print the current 'List of Paris' Cyber Cafés' section that ends this short feature.

Meanwhile back to Korea and Gene. He didn't say where he was in Korea, so I asked him. He replied with a short description of some of things he'd observed, and I add it here because, although Korea is often in the news, not much is ever said about life there.

Korea, by Gene Covert

Saturday, 6 Jan 1996:- What's it like on the street? I am currently living in the heart of downtown Seoul. Smack dab in the middle of the fifth largest city in the world. Well, it's crowded. I imagine that it is much like Paris in some ways: lots of people, crazy drivers, and neon lights everywhere.

- The difference is that the people here are very friendly to foreigners. Secondly, there is a very real lack of noise on the street. In the Korean culture it is very rude to lose control in public, so even though they are crazy drivers and cut each other off, there's rarely honking horns. Similarly on the streets, people bump into one another all the time, but it's never aggressive. Never is probably a strong word, but there is a definite contrast to street life at home. I have not found an area in the city where I wouldn't feel safe going. I haven't seen any vandalism, drugs, or assaults since I have been here. Though, in contrast, there are frequent student protests which can get out of control and which are swiftly suppressed. There are numerous squads of riot police that patrol areas where youths hang out.

- South Korea has literally jumped into being a cosmopolitan society. Everywhere there are elegantly decorated coffee shops and tea houses. It would seem from the number of restaurants, coffee shops, and pubs that the Koreans have a lot of free time. Actually, these establishments are the only places for stress release from the busy city and work. Businessmen frequent bars till late at night all during the week; it is an expected part of the business society. And when they go drinking, they go DRINKING! Late evening sees numberless individuals staggering or being carried home, yet they go to work the next day. Liver cancer is close behind automobile accidents as the number one killer in Korean society.

- If you ask any Korean if they like living in Seoul they will tell you "no". This is evident when about half of the population of the city tries to leave on the weekend (approx. 5 million people). I have done the same and it is grueling. So many people leave that the rest of the surrounding country suddenly becomes very crowded. I traveled 3 hours south of Seoul to go hiking and "get away". It was more like I "found" them. There was wall to wall people, scrabbling up the side of this mountain so they could shout from the top and have a picnic.

- Hiking in Korea is extremely popular, and let me say, they really dress for the occasion. A simple day hike up a modest mountain will have some people outfitted to tackle Everest for a month. The country is filled with parks. All mountains in Korea are sacred. The higher it is the more sacred it is, and the more people want to climb it. Frequently there are buddhist temples dotting the mountain landscape.

- Unfortunately, the many wars in Korea's history had a heavy toll on the environment. Many of the forests were removed during the World War II, so the current forests are quite young. Korea is one of the leading nations in the world for reforestation and great pride is taken in preserving its natural areas. As long as the population stays in the cities, Korea will be able to continue along on this path. There are very few people who live in the country. Mainly it is older people, left on small farms. The majority of young people have gone to the cities.

- Korea will soon have to decide if it is going to just import more food or look at ways to get people back into farming. I guess I've drifted off the street and into MY back yard. Just a little bias on part of the author.

Gene, the author, is a farmer when he is not teaching English in Asia.

Cyber Cafés in Paris

  • Cristal Palace, 43, bd de Sébastopol, 75001 Paris
    Tél : 42 36 22 22
    Métro: Halles, Et. Marcel, Rambuteau
    • Cyberia, Centre Georges Pompidou, 75004 Paris
      Tél : 44 54 53 49
      Métro: Hôtel de Ville, Rambuteau
      email : cyberia@easynet.fr
      Web : http://www.easynet.fr/cyberia/
      • Bistrot Internet, 40 bd Haussmann, 75009 Paris
        Tel : 42 82 30 33
        Métro: Harve-Caumartin, RER Auber
        email : bistrot@bistrotinternet.fr
        • Extrapole, 2, parvis de la Défense, 92800 Puteaux
          Tél : 41 02 99 00
          Métro and RER: La Défense
          • Galeries Lafayette, bd Haussmann, 75009 Paris
            Site located near Men's Wear department.
            Métro: Harve-Caumartin, Opèra; RER: Auber
            • High Tech Café, Centre Commercial Tour Montparnasse
              Tél : 45 38 67 61
              Métro: Montparnasse
              email : bilouf@worldnet.net
              • Lieu, Galerie Natkin-Berta, 124, rue Vielle-du-Temple, 75003 Paris
                Tél : 42 74 42 16
                Métro: St Sébastien Froissart
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