Well for my first trip out of the country … I chose to go to South Korea for 14 days including travel time.
The plan for this adventure was to goto Icheon , South Korea, then bus over to Seoul and stay for about 3 nights and then rent a car and drive 5 hours cross country to
Gyeongju to view the national sites.
After that came the a domestic flight within South Korea to the 7th natural wonder of the world –
Overall this trip has been the furthest Ive been from home and the first time I have been off the continent of America (not counting Bahamas or Hawaii). This was an amazing experience and well worth the 16 hours of torture from being on a plane.
The trip started on a Friday night in Boston at 9 PM. The flight was delayed but finally departed to San Francisco and landed close to 1:00 Am pacific time. There I decided to rest a bit since I had a 8 hour lay over. At around 6:00 AM I got up and took the Bart train to MillBrae and ate at a local diner and had some Hawaiian breakfast (recommend it highly if you have a lay over in San Francisco since the BART will get you there in about 5-10 minutes) and airport food is pretty horrible haha. The diner is right in front of the BART stop.
After that I boarded my ~11 hour flight to Inchon International Airport South Korea. Truthfully the flight was brutal, the turbulence was bad and at the time I did not have any games installed on my Ipad. The food on the airplane was completely disgusting as well which did not help. But once we landed … it was all worth it.
I landed in Inchon where I then took a “limo” bus to my hotel in Daerim/Guro Digital City (train stop in the inner city rim of Seoul).
Some things surprised me right away when I was there .. first the highways look exactly like Massachusetts highways and the weather felt about the same (which I find strange since I thought Boston was unique in the sense of climate especially not expecting this after traveling 6000 miles haha) Anyways the main thing that struck me as strange was doors .. noone uses mechanical keys like in the USA, all the keys were digit codes on what looks like a samsung galaxy phone attached to the door (haha). I found this weird, also the automatic doors don’t have motion detectors in the stores (like the ones we are used to in Walmart, they are all push button to open). Another thing that struck me as weird was the trash … it was so organized , food waste in one container, paper in another container and plastic in the other one (in America we dump everything in one waste basket).
The hotel also stunned me as well ! Especially the bathroom! I had to ask the front desk where my shower was … then I definitely felt like I wasn’t in Boston anymore … I don’t know how to explain this except the fact that in Korea the WHOLE bathroom is the shower .. there is a sprinkler attached to the wall via a hose from the sink and you just shower in the bathroom …. everything gets wet .. from the toilet seat to the sink … the whole bathroom is the shower and you have to wear sandals in the shower as I am assuming the floor is not clean especially from the water splashing from the toilet! haha Surprised me a bit, but after a while I got used to it and I realized the good side is that the toilet and bathroom is always cleaned everyday automatically haha.
The main things I did /saw in Seoul which I found amazing were
- Nam San (Nam is the name of the mountain, San means mountain in Korean — also in Chinese as well which is why I know the translation) – you will need to take a cable car up here unless you want to do the hike which I do not recommend especially if time is limited – it is quiet a scene up there as this is where the famous “lockets of love” where couples lock lockets of love are located (see picture album to see what I am talking about, can’t really explain it haha)
- Myung Dong (famous shopping district)
- The Palace
- The Temples
- The famous Myung Dong Church
- Rainbow Bridge
- Amazing street food!
- Cinema (the movies seem alot better here, I have no idea why!) , I watched the Avengers in 3d english but Koreasubtitled
- Korean chicken (twotwos , hotsun etc .. have to try! amazing)
- Ddobokki street food
- Ox tail soup for breakfast!
- Korean Disneyland (lotte world) – see pictures there is a indoor park and an outdoor park so you can go whether it rains or snows! haha
Going onto the next subject of transportation, the trains are ridiculously fast and always on time .. despite having this annoying chime everytime a train is approaching/showing up (I can only compare the sound to a 1990’s Nokia ringtone.)After a day, I rented a Hyundai Avante (very very nice car) to drive 5 Hours away to
in Gyeongju which use to be the capital of an ancient civilization in Korea, I highly recommend seeing the following (excuse me if I don’t know the name of everything)
- Royal tombs where the ancient kings are burried
- Traditional Korean food (see photo album)
- Famous Gyeongju bread (see photo album)
- Famous temple
- Famous buddha on the mountain side
- Try the mountain water from the mountain water falls (taste very fresh haha)
Then I drove back to Seoul and took a domestic flight to
The list is expansive for Jeju island as it is a very big island and there is just sooo much to do as this is the primary tourist destination for Koreans
- See the monkey shows
- See the dolphin shows
- See the seal shows
- Beaches! Beaches Beaches!
- Try the “live” fresh sashimi (absolutely amazing.. best sashimi I ever had)
- Try the famous oranges!
- Try the famous orange products (ranging from chocolates to juices etc)
- See dragon head rock (see photo album)
- Rent a car and let it climb the “ghost” road hill in neutral (yes it really does climb up hill! weird)
- See the famous pheonix island
- See why it is one of the 7th natural wonders of the world by seeing the famous formation (Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak)
- See the various water falls
- Hang out in Jeju city and do some shopping in the underground malls
- The InFamous Sex Museum (VERY weird stuff in here haha)
I then flew back to Seoul and spent another 3 days there mucking around. There was tons to do, and tons to see! Some of them are in the gallery below, feel free to browse!