Rocking through the ROK

Looking Back

January 12, 2010
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Back in reality, wishing I was back in the ROK. I go back in time whenever life gets too dull, repetitive, and uninteresting. I always think of what I would be doing if I was in Korea right now, and if I had no sense or care of time, money, or the future. So I come back regularly and read my blog to make me feel like I did when I was wandering around marketplaces, beaches, and cities, and to make me see life from a happy, open, and bright perspective. Anyways, I have created a little review of the trip to sum it up a little. (Devans answers are in italics. You may notice that they are much less descriptive :P)

Most memorable moments: Well, there definitely are a lot, but if I had to pick out the moments that stuck with me the most, it would be the following. First day in the ROK, I sit drinking my coffee as a picachu drives by on a scooter… The Daegu temple, it basically defines what peaceful really means. The DMZ was surely the most exciting trip, being surrounded by soldiers ready to defend against a nuclear testing communist nation is not something I’m used to. Haeundae Beach in Busan was stunningly gorgeous with its turquoise warm water and light sand. Hongik University area was my most favorite area that I absolutely loved! Just being surrounded by so many young people and such amazing creativity was something I could do everyday! Hiking mountains like at the Beomosa Temple and Mnt. Halla was breathtaking and something that I think about all the time. Devan:  receiving potatoes at the Daegu temple, talking to the UN Cemetery volunteer.

Least memorable moments: Watching a woman get beaten on the street isn’t really on my list of things to remember about this trip, although I think it’s going to stick with me for some time. I am happy, however, that I have read about this in someone else’s blog before, who was actually being criticized for sharing this information and giving people the “wrong idea” of South Korea. It’s not the wrong idea at all, it’s reality. South Korea is still a place where men have superiority over women (of course, like the rest of the developed countries, women are slowly making a comeback). Still, this was something I didn’t enjoy about the ROK. Besides this, some negative experiences were the subway washroom, among various other dirty bathrooms, which had no toilet paper and no hand towels. Also, impatient and ignorant taxi drivers and their driving. Devan: Jeju taxi driver, leaving South Korea.

Best food I tried: The dish I miss the most is the Korean potato pancake. So simple, but so good. The Korean BBQ is what we had the most, the ribs were my favorite there. Fresh BBQ shrimp from the Busan fish market were pretty godly, I would definitely recommend trying those. I also miss the Japanese food! I know that’s not really appropriate for things about Korea, but the food there is so much better than the food in Canada. Devan: PORK!

Weirdest food I tried: Ox Shank Soup, for breakfast…probably the weirdest food I had. Ribs with mustard, hot sauce, and almonds also ranks in the top 5. Other than that I tried various things I didn’t know and still don’t know what they were, but they were all generally pretty yummy! Devan: Pocari Sweat.

Most recommended activity: Hiking! The hiking in South Korea is absolutely breathtaking and I miss it so much! Karaoke singing with a Korean person. Koreans rule at karaoke and it’s so much fun to hear them rock out.Go see the temples, palaces, markets, and DMZ. Devan: Watching the people, exploring. D

Least recommended activity: Using the subway washroom, as I said before. I wouldn’t suggest going places when your not prepared. Always have a note in Korean stating where you want to go. Not everyone speaks english in South Korea, and once you leave Seoul, it only gets harder to communicate with people.  Devan: taking a cab in Jeju

Favorite cultural aspect: Koreans seem to be very creative! All the detail they put into temples and palaces, their artwork and crafts. They are also very friendly, helpful, and polite. The kids are all respective, obedient, and cute, not obnoxious, obese and oblivious like American kids.  Devan: how foreign we were to them but how welcoming they made us feel.

Least favorite cultural aspect: Hocking loogies and spitting! I’m sorry, but it makes me gag. Devan: some resentment to my non-speaking Korean skills.

Recommended and least recommended time to go: September – November. In September it is so warm still, but not scorching hot. Coming from Canada it would be a very nice summer month, and you would have lots of summery things to yourself (like an entire beach), since it’s too cold for most Koreans. In November it will be fall and the vivid fall colors will take your breath away. I, myself, wouldn’t really want to go in the summer, since it’s too hot, or in the winter, since it’s too gray. Devan: Fall (most recommended) Summer, July, August (least recommended).

Recommended length of trip: Anywhere from 1-3 weeks, as long as you have plans to fill your days . Devan: 2 weeks

Did I feel safe? Always, however; I was always with Devan so I was never alone. I would have probably felt less safe had I been by myself. Definitely would have been worried in some of the more shady parts of the city. I usually felt much safer though than I do anytime when I’m in downtown Grande Prairie or anywhere, for that matter, in Edmonton, AB. Devan: all the time.

Did I feel welcome? I never felt unwelcome. People were always super friendly, polite, and helpful. Even when people just stared, I didn’t feel like they were trying to make me uncomfortable, they only stare because you look different to what they are used to. The only time I ever felt less welcome is when I went to Jeju Island. Devan: in Seoul I felt welcome, but further south I did not.

Did I prepare enough? Too much. We prepared like we were going to a third world country. Hidden passport pouch, trekking clothes, bug spray, water bottles, travel pillows ect. were not needed. Neither were the recommended shots of rabies, malaria, mumps, H1N1, and typhoid. It’s a personal choice, I guess, but I felt like people have no idea what kind of country South Korea actually is. Devan: too much

What do I miss the most and the least? I DO NOT miss taking the taxi and I do not miss crazy driving. I do however miss all the awesome food! All the varieties of restaurants and street food. I miss the cheapness of everything! The amazing shopping everywhere you go. I miss all the young people and their creative fashion. I miss the beautiful perfect weather. I miss not knowing what people around you are talking about. I miss the determination and self-discipline in the people. I miss the cute little school children in their matching sweat suite uniforms. I miss almost everything! Devan: I miss not understanding everyone, the food, and the adventures with Sarah. I don’t miss trying to communicate in a tense situation.


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Unending and Unstoppable Seoul

October 24, 2009
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Back in Seoul, from an adventure to the south, we are both glad to be back in the forever buzzing city.

We are staying at a guest house called Bebop House which was created by 3 art students. It is located right by Hongik University and surrounded by art galleries and shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars, shopping and so much more. Everything around is arty and creative, even the people are all dressed art inspired. There is lots of variety within the restaurants and bars. I even found a real german bakery down the street.

For the past 3 days we have been enjoying shopping, good food, and visiting with friends. Last night we got together with Devan’s cousin who is an english teacher here. We went to a rooftop BBQ with some of her friends, where we BBQ’d 2 types of fish, prawns, and crab. It was delish. Then we moved on to a belly dancing show at a bar in Itewon, the foreigner area where the American base is located. It was neat to see a whole area within Seoul that was filled with all kinds of different people. We also went to see a live band at a bar called Woodstock.

The night before we visited with some Korean friends I had met at the college in Grande Prairie. It was definitley nice to see Shane again and to meet his sister and girlfriend. We had dinner at a restaurant in Insadong, where they ordered, what to us seemed like, two kinds of omelett and an alcoholic beverage that was served with a latel. Unfortunately we didn’t really like either of them. The omelett was good, but when you have nothing but that it’s soon too much egg. The drink was very different from what we know and it tasted very strong. It was brown creamyish, a little fizzy, and had a strong alcohol taste. His sister loved it and had at least 5 cups, which would have left Devan and I totally drunk, but she drank it like pop. Waffle at a coffee shop down the street was for desert, and we all shared an ice cream belgian baffle. It was nice to have so many questions about Korea answered. We learned that there is a great significance about couples and being single. I thought people made a big deal about being single back at home, but here it’s a whole other story. Shane’s sister wanted to do so many things, like go hiking in Busan, and she believes she can’t  because she is single. Also, after only 100 days of dating, the guy buys rings for the couple. And they actually go all out on these rings. Couples rings are sold for around 800,000 Won in some places. Shane came to visit us in Seoul because he was on his way to the east coast with his girlfriend to celebrate 100 days of dating and get a set of rings. Also, we learned that if the couple breaks up after, the girl gets to keep both rings. Very traditionaly, the man also pays for all the dinners and anything they do together. He even holds her purse.  It seems to be very bad if you are at a certain age and not married, you are better off, in their eyes, married to someone you don’t even really like. Divorce is a disgrace on the family, so if you end up marrying someone you don’t want to be with, you are stuck with them, to a certain extent. There are “love motels” all over Korea. This is where you go to have an affair. The motels even have little curtains in the parking lot to hide your car..

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Jeju Island

October 21, 2009
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For the past five days Devan and I have been staying on Jeju Island, and it surely has been an adventure. The island has taught us that everything has its ups and downs, and that sometimes planning your days thoroughly is necessary. Most of all, we learned that you can’t go somewhere and expect happieness, you have to find it and make it yourself.

First Impressions

The morning of the 16th we go up, after an early night of drinking and karaoke singing, packed our bags and headed to Busan Airport. The flight is only about 30 minutes, but no matter how long, traveling always takes a toll on you. We were both excited for the tropical Island of Jeju, which some people call the Hawaii of Korea. Now, I have never been to Hawaii, but I can surely tell you that this is an overstatement.

It started all with the taxi driver. Grumpy as $%&#. From the moment we got in, he would repeatedly say things to us, and as he got more frustrated he started to raise his voice. He then took us to the wrong hotel, trying to get rid of us. When we finally arrived at our hotel, we were greeted with more disappointment. The room we had booked looked something like what you would see in a typical murder scene of a thriller. Stains on the walls, the ceiling, the carpet. It also came with a wonderful view of the ghetto. Already unimpressed with the island, we go to hunt for a better place to stay. Four hotels later, we were frustrated as ever. Two of the hotels seemed to have just turned us down because we weren’t dressed nice enough, or because they couldn’t speak english and didn’t feel like dealing with us. So we went back to our hotel and upgraded our room to at least have an ocean view, which helped a lot. To light up our night we decided to take a walk down the sea shore to enjoy the ocean. So for the peak of our bad night we go to witness a man beating another woman on the street with people standing around watching. Great.

Day One in Jeju

We found that there weren’t many restaurants in our area, only local kitchens where the menus were in korean, that not many people spoke english, and that it is quite hard to get around the island if you’re not orgazied and prepared. The island is bigger than expected and many museums, parks, and things to do are spread across the island, making it hard to use both bus and taxi. For our first day on Jeju Island we ventured out to Loveland, a sex amusement park. It was a little awkward and funny at the same time to see older couples and groups walking around taking pictures in front of a dirty statue.



After our adventure we rented two bikes for two hours for a whole whopping 3000 won (roughly $3CAN). It was nice to explore the area around us. Although we found some shopping, we still didn’t find any good restaurants. For anyone booking a trip I would definitley recommend the South side of the island.

Day Two

On day two we decided to ventue to the South. We took a bus to the other side of the island (Jungmun), and then a cab to an ATV place. It was 40000 won for the full course (30 minutes) and your own quad. The quads were in pretty rough shape with shaved tires that were very low on air, and they had over all sketchy look and feel. I was surpirsed Ididn’t have to sign a waiver for the quad they gave me. Since we told them we were Canadian and knew how to ride these four wheelers, they let us go in front of the families. The course went around windy, sandy, turns with groups of sharp lava rocks sticking into the trail. Devan and I both drove standing, ready to jump off at any second incase an axel or who knows what broke. Also, because the tires were so low on air that you could literary feel every single rock, and trust me, there were a lot of big, sharp rocks. We even went down a cliff into the beach that I’m pretty sure was steep enough to flip the quad. But hey, I’m alive, and even though we both had a face full of sand, since they give you everything under the moon (knee pads, elbow pads, helmets, jackets, gloves) BUT safety glasses, it was a lot of fun!

The horseback riding place we intended to go to after unfortunately only lets you be led around on a horse, so we didn’t want to pay 30000 won to be led around for 30 minutes. This ranch was stated as “best” horse back riding ranch in our Frommers Guide, which was pretty disappointing. I saw a lot of better places we could have went to throughout the next few days. DSC_0428

Later that night we took a walk along the shoreline to view the rough ocean waves. The waves were so high that they would hit the shore wall with a deep “thump” and then splash into the air over the railing. Very romantic 🙂

Day Three

On day three we took a bus to Manjanggul Cave, the worlds largest lava tube. One  kilometer of this cave is open to the public, and as you get to the very end, it’s pretty eerie to stare into the darkness ahead of you. It was quite neat to see how large the cave was and how rough the lava stones are.  So many things on Jeju island are made out of these lava rocks, all the walkways in parks and the city, fences all throughout the island, stairs, water fountains, you name it.

Lava Tube

Lava Tube

Day Four

Day four was phenomenal. Mt. Halla was on our list, and this would be a big accomplishment. Mt. Halla is the highest mountain in South Korea, and it’s the volcano that Jeju island is pretty much made of. We took a morning bus that brought us to the closest bus stop. From there on it was a 20 minute walk to the main gate. Up on the mountain the fall colors have started to come through. All the trees were colored in shades of red, orange, brown, and green. Our trail was the shortest one at 3-4 hours of hiking to the top, the other 3 trails were at 5-9 hours. The trails were absolutley beautiful and in well kept shape. Stone pathways and wooden stairways had been made all the way to the top. Although it was the “beginners” trail, it was surely a workout! The 3 hours it takes you to get to the top are all spent hiking and climbing stairs. So if you don’t have a tight ass after hiking in Korea, you’re S.O.L. Devan and I were fortunate enough to see some roe deer along the path. The grass would have been just above our knees, and the deer were so small that they were completley hidden. We saw one on our way to the main gate, which was also small, greyish in color, and had a little, fine set of antlers. So we made it about 3/4 of the way. As the trees clearned near the top, the air got really cold and windy, and since both of us were just wearing long sleeve shirts and shorts it was a little bit too cold. Now we know why all the koreans were dressed like they were climbing Mt. Everest. There were also a lot of school groups that passed us on our way up, and many of them excitedly said hi to me and waived. Just me though, not Devan :P.

After our hike and the post climbing nap, we found an amazing japanese restaurant. The sushi was incredible and the miso soup was beyond words. I can feel my mouth watering right now. This was a good day.

Day Five

On day five we played the typical tourist on a bus tour that took us around the island and showed us all the main tourist attractions. First we stopped at O’Sulloc Tea Museum, which was a green tea plantaion. I never knew how green tea was grown, I just knew it tasted great! Next we stopped at Hallim Park, which has a subtropical garden, a kigdom of rare plants, Hyeopjae and Ssangyong Caves, a stone and bonsai garden, and a Jaeam Folk Village. The park was definitley interesting to see, with so many different kinds of palm trees and cacti, banana and pinapple trees, flowers, and bonsai trees. Emrald colored water and white sand was next on the list. Hyeopjae Beach is small but beautiful. Shallow waters persuade you to go swimming or at least dip your feet in the fresh ocean water. The gorgeous water also played a part in our next stop. An erosion from ocean waves and winds formed Jusangjeolli Rocks. It looks like stacked stone pillars. When I first saw these in a picture I thought somebody must have carved them, but they are all natural. Next was the largest buddhist building in Asia. Yakcheonsa Temple is a 4 storey temple with 3 gold colored, giant buddha statues inside. Our favourite stop was Jeongbang Pokpo Water Fall, the only waterfall in Asia that actually falls directly into the ocean. Standing in front of the majestic fall, you can feel the wind blown water on your skin, and in the background you can hear the soft rocking ocean waves hitting the black lava rock. Best memory of the island? For sure!

(I will add pictures, no worries!)

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To Be Canadian

October 15, 2009
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Today we walked around for countless hours trying to find the UN Memorial Park, which in the end, was worth all the walking. It was very silent and peaceful, and there were many restrictions on behavior, apparel, and noise. Constantly staff were cleaning benches, memorial stones, and pathways. Both of us felt goosebumps as we read various memorial stones, like the one for the youngest UN soldier that a water way was dedicated to. He was only 17.

Both of us were automatically and proudly drawn to the Canadian flag, and we wandered, reading the names on the memorial stones. As we walked around, a volunteer worker told us about the park and the Canadian memorial statue standing for all the Canadians that had died in the Korean war, as well as 21 unfound Canadian soldiers. He said over 300 men of our country lie in the park. Then he suggested that maybe our forefathers are lying among the soldiers. That’s when I just smiled and nodded. Neither Devan and I are born in Canada, so neither of our real relatives would be among the Canadians. I didn’t say this though, because it didn’t matter. We are both Canadians, and we felt connected to the ones of our country who had fallen fighting for peace.

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Live in the ROK

October 14, 2009
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By now, Devan and I have gotten used to most of the Korean food, the stares, the traveling, and the cultural differences. Although there is always more to explore, the past few days in Busan have been very laid back and the two of us are just enjoying the area.

Yesterday was a very warm day, and we decided to hiking. We took the subway for a bit, and since we couldn’t find the bus, got tired of the heat and walking through a Korean cemetary, we took a cab to the Beomosa Temple. We wandered around for a bit and ate our breakfast, we had picked up along the way, on a quiet stairwell from which we could observe the temple courtyard. There were many tourists, so we didn’t enjoy this temple as much as the quiet and peaceful one in Seoul ( I will insert and link the name as soon as I find it). From then on we were a little lost. The hostel owner (Indy, who runs a great hostel btw), had said something about going from a North Gate to the East Gate and had some pictures on his wall of a beautiful trail much like the Great Wall of China, only incredibly smaller of course. So this is what we were looking for, only there was no site of it. So as we wandered around aimlessly in the killer heat, I asked a Monk for directions and he  pointed us toward a trail. So off we went on a street like up hill trail. After a while the street turned into a wide gravel trail, then a trail of  rocks with a crease of a previous creek running through it, then we started climbing large rocks…and eventually, after about 3kms of climbing, the trail turned into a little bush wacker trail and the trees slowly cleared. Although we were both sweaty and  gasping for air, we knew it was worth it as soon as we arrived at the top of the mountain. As we stood 801.3 meters above Busan, we had what seemed like a view of the world. At the very tip of Geumjeong Mountain we stood speechless. A 360 degree view, as far as you can see. The tall sky scrapers and appartment buildings now looked like little Lego villages.  But that’s not all, there is a tiny trail through the bush that brings you to a set of stairs, to the very top of the rocky peak. From there on the safety railings came and went, so you were basically on your own. Now we understood why all the Koreans have badass hiking equipment on. They were everywhere, having picnics,  chatting casually on a cliff like rock, or climbing over the rocks to get a better view. The crazy part, however, is that they all seemed to be in their 40’s and up. We even saw an old man (late 60’s early 70’s) hike up right behind us. How he climbed up the steep rocks I would really like to know! From then on we could see the North Gate of  Geumgang Park. It looked like quite a ways, but we surely didn’t want to climb down the way we came up. So we hiked along, at a much faster pace, eager to get down as we were starving by now, through a tiny bush trail. It seemed like a much better trail than the one we took previously, until it got rocky. The rocks started out smaller and spread across the forest. After a while it was 2kms on large rocks. Nothing but large rocks, kind of like a river bed. So it was like hiking down a high, long set of random stairs.  We thought our feet hurt before, but now, the pressure on the tips of our feet was horrendous and we had to take a few breaks to rest. We hiked through the North Gate and back to the Temple. By the time we got there we wanted to do nothing but sleep and eat, but neither seemed anything close to near. Luckily we found a cab that took us to the subway. I didn’t know if I was going to puke or pass out, but somehow, deep breaths helped me get all the way home and too a restaurant. We hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and it was now past 6. Water and Juice gave me just enough energy to wait for our food, and as I was shaking and my head was thumping, I chowed down on the Korean BBQ.

Rested and well fed, we hung out at the hostel and met some people. Since Devan and I are big eaters, we were soon hungry again and headed out to find some dessert. After our fruit and ice cream waffle, we headed across to the “Miller” Pub. Nothing but beer. So I tried my first Guinness and Devan his first Czech beer. We then ordered ribs. Now this is an important part of the day, because they served American style ribs layered with hot sauce, mustard, and almonds. We felt pretty disturbed at the sight of it, but then realized it was our own fault for ordering foreign food. That’s probably how they feel when they order their food in our country. So, nevertheless, we scraped off the mustard and hot sauce, ate it anyways, and thought it still tasted pretty good.

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Korea’s Demilitarized Zone

October 11, 2009
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Korea’s DMZ sure is interesting and a must see when visiting South Korea. It is the 4km zone between South and North Korea that still countains over 500,000 land mines today.

The tour begins with a swift rush through a museum, and a 7 minute film. What was expected to be a documentary on the significance of the DMZ ‘s history and the state that it is in today, the movie turned out to be about a nature thriving tourist attraction. We were then lead to the 3rd tunnel that North Korea alledgedly dug during the Korean War to invade the South. Four tunnels in total were found after the ceasefire. It was quite amazign to walk through the long and cave like tunnel. It started out at a 11% incline to reach the original North Korean underground pathway. As we got there, picture taking was not allowed.  At some points the tunnel came to be about 5’2 feet high, so we all had to wear hard hats, especially the 6 foot something white people. After the tunnel we got to the sight seeing, which was my favourite part. The tour stood on a huge balcony with an amazing view of North Korea. To be more specific, the view was amazing, North Korea really wasn’t. The mountainous area was treeless, as they shaved the entire country for shelter and heat. There was a yellow line surrounding the back of the balcony where picture taking was allowed, any further than that and the soldiers will take your camera from you and delete your pictures. Luckily you could still get a detailed picture of the fake propaganda village and the significantly high flag pole by holding the camera up high and using incredible zoom. The train staion is next. Empty and unused, this station is ready at all times to unify the country. The inside is set up almost like an airport, and some areas are closed off to the public. It mas amazing to see a large new train station, ready to work, just sitting there, waititng.

After this the tour returns to Seoul. During the drive, you can see the heavily surveilled and fenced river, which flows out of the North. Along the highway are military stations with armed soldiers, one of them even contained a tank. The tour over all was a little bit rushed, and the included meal was somehow forgotten. All of us wished we had gotten a little bit more time to view the museum and take picutres, but the view of North Korea was more than worth the tour.

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Dynamic Busan

October 11, 2009
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The turquoise waves rock back and forth as the sun beats at 24 degrees celcius. No one is in the water, but instead are trailing around and playing in the sand in sweatres and jeans. I, however, am enjoying the warm and fresh sea of Japan.

Busan seems to be an interesting and busy city. Shopping, the fish market, the restaurants, the beaches, the couples, and the taste of the ocean where ever you go. 

This morning we went to the fish market. The place was crawling and splashing with eels, crabs, shrimp, worms, squid, octopus, and all kinds of live and dry fish. Occasionally you may run into the odd pig head, socks, and knives, from what we found anyways. The women there are noted to be quite bigger and tougher, and were they ever. Most of the work seemed to be done by the women, who also prooved to be quite the aggresive salesmen. As we caught a ladies eye, she encouraged us to come over and repeated “BBQ eel”. Devan and I came to an agreement to try the BBQ shrimp instead, which, by the way, was amazing. She sat the four of us down by a table with a small round BBQ in the middle. She then brought tin foil and about 12 large blue shrimp that she wrapped and placed on the BBQ. As we snacked on the side dishes, the shrimp turned pink,  she showed us how to peel them, and we happily ate our way through the delicious fresh shrimp. All four us were extremely satisfied.

Next was the beach. The leap into the beautiful ocean was already worth this entire trip. Haeundae beach is South Korea’s most famous beach. Tall luxury hotels, nice restaurants and shopping areas surround the bay, then the boardwalk, and then the soft sand. In the summer, the place is extremely packed, to the point where the rows of sun umbrellas are color coordinated. October, however, is the best time to visit, especially on a day like today. It may be fall to the Koreans, and 24 degrees may be to cool for them to swim, but for us, it’s perfect. The trees are still green, the sun is still hot, and the water is definitley too warm to miss out on.

All four of us are in love with the beach, and in love with Busan. Now we know why they say “once you go to Busan you won’t want to leave”.

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The Perfect

October 6, 2009
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At last, after the 13 hour flight, we have made it to Seoul, South Korea. The weather is warm, the air is fresh, and there is never one cloud in the sky. It’s just perfect.

Our Hostel is clean and friendly. We have an ondol room (korean style (sleep on the floor)), on the roof top. So, not only is our room bigger than the others, quiet, and private, it’s on the roof. So we basically have a huge balcony with a view of little neighborhoods, a mountain, and tall apartment and office buildings.

Everyday we get up around 6 or 7, pick up some random breakfast (ox shank soup…) and walk to whatever we want to see, like the authentic market with arts and crafts and traditional korean goods, the outlet shopping area, or the crazy bargain market that is incredibly busy and sells anything you can possibly think of, from G-Star clothing to fibre glassed pig heads (don’t ask). Palaces, shrines, temples, and traditional houses are spread throughout the city and give give the busy business scene a traditional and authentic touch.

The best thing, however, is that everything is my size! Food, clothing, and doors. 180 ml juice bottles and half a cup of haegen-daz ice cream, small sized shirts and size 26 pants, and doors that I can fit through perfectly but everyone taller has to duck.

Just perfect.

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The Shrinking List

September 22, 2009
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With a lot of things to do, and now actually only a few days to get things done, Devan and I are husseling and busseling to cross off everything on the “to do” list.

Planning, packing, shopping, cleaning, and preparing for when we get back. The list just regrows as we cross things off. However, on the Korea front, things seem to be getting better.

The camera is insured and prepped for the trip. The meds are bought and packed up.  Ends and odds like bug spray and water bottles are slowly getting taken care of. Only small things are now left to be done. Sew on the Canadian flag, buy a plug in, buy a tuque. Also, don’t get overwhelmed by excitement.

10 days, and I will be in Korea. I feel excited and nervous. I’m not worried as of now, but I’m sure it will catch up to me. About Devan, I’m not so sure. He has never been out of the country before (except Mexico) and he hasn’t really grasped the fact that we are actually flying to Korea for a month. Culture shock is going to have the best of him, this is what I am sure of. Research through books and websites helped me prepare and imagine what I will be surrounded by. Devan hasn’t really done much of this. But hey, we’re young and naive and “winging it” is what we’re good at. Hopefully that’s all we need.

Posted in Preparation

One Step at a Time

August 25, 2009
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Research, pack, research, buy, research, plan, research, book, research, research, research.

So many steps to make, but slowly, we’re working our way through, and I’d say that we are doing pretty good! We recently took a trip to Calgary to check out the selection of backpacks. We’d checked at Valhalla Pure and Wholesale Sports, but the selection wasn’t really ideal. Instead, both of us instantly found the backpacks we’d been searching for at Mountain Equipment Co-op. Mine, for a reasonable price, Devan’s, not so much. It probably is worth it’s price, but when you think $400 for a backpack, it’s hard to grasp.

The day after our big purchase we took the backpacks to Horseshoe Canyon, near Drumheller, Alberta, for the big trial hike. It’s pretty amazing how much stuff you can fit into a 60 litter backpack, not mentioning Devan’s 80 liter which I’m pretty sure I could fit into. All in all, the backpacks were super comfy, although both of us had slightly sore shoulders.

Next were the shoes. If I’m going to walk for a month, I better have a good pear of shoes! Hiking is definitely on the top of my list, so a shoe that is supportive and comfy is top priority. My first stop was Earnie’s Sports Experts, and all the shoes I liked were sold out in my size. Second stop, Valhalla Pure, where I instantly fell in love with a pair of brown Merrell hiking boots. Did they have my size? Why would they? Not only that, but they were 200 bucks, which not even I have ever spent on a pair of shoes. However, if I’m going to be walking for 30 days, I need a supportive and quality shoe that will keep my feet and my posture healthy. Then I came up with a few more points to make myself feel less bad for spending so much money on shoes.

Important odds and ends. The hidden passport pack was definitely a smart idea. It’s a little pouch that wraps around your upper body and is just big enough to carry your passport and credit cards, but thin enough to fit underneath your t-shirt and not be considered a fanny pack. On my list I also included an incredibly light water bottle, mini first aid pack, mini sewing kit, KM counter, and Canadian flags, pins, and stickers.

Needles, needles, needles. There are no specific vaccinations needed to enter South Korea, however, tetanus and hepatitis A&B should be up to date. Recommendations from the Health Unit may be a little excessive, but it’s always good to be prepared. Malaria, rabies, mumps, and H1N1 and were only a few out of the list I was given. Our appointment is on the 29th, so we will see how it goes!

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About author

I'm a small town girl, German born and Canadian raised, missing the big town atmosphere and longing to travel the world, experience different cultures, and live in the Now. Traveling to South Korea for a month will be a life adventure that I'll never forget. I feel very fortunate to have the chance to go on this trip, and I am going to appreciate every single moment.