081118 – 151118

After coming back to Hong Kong from Singapore after Deepavali (I stayed for two days and flew back on the morning of 7 Nov), I had a very tight schedule to keep to, because I had another flight to catch the following day – this time to KOREA! (south obv)

We did so much on this trip that it’s really gonna be very difficult to cover everything in detail, so I’m just gonna give a brief overview/summary of the trip as a whole. Four of us planned and went on this trip – Fred, Frankie, Ruben and me. The trip was largely initiated by Fred coz he was sian of staying in HK and wanted to fly out for a short holiday lol. In hindsight the timing of the trip was pretty bad and we should’ve gone during reading/study week instead, but there were many timetable clashes and everything was quite hastily planned so it is what it is.

Anyways, so the basic outline was we landed in Incheon, rented a car from Lotte Rent-a-car in Incheon, and then did a nice big roadtrip around Korea, covering three cities in particular – Jeonju, Busan and Andong – before ending off the trip in Seoul and returning the car. The roadtrip itself, from the point of collecting the car in Incheon to reaching Seoul safe and sound, lasted 5 days, from 9 to 13 Nov. 1 night in Jeonju, 2 nights in Busan and 1 night in Andong. And then one night in Seoul, after which I flew back to Hong Kong the following evening, on 14 Nov.

CHALLENGES FACED

  • Language
    • boiii. Nobody speaks a whiff of English. It’s all Korean. Which is great for Korea as they keep their language and culture well and alive amidst a global westernisation/anglicisation movement, but not so great for us. Thank god for technology though; we literally just Google-translated our way through everything, and made use of some more advanced apps, like one that could scan words through the camera and translate that (roughly) to English in real time, and another that records your voice and translates what you said to English (and vice versa). In the major cities, namely Seoul and Busan, it was still not completely hopeless as you have a bit of English here and there, but in the more suburban cities we went to there was no chance man.
  • Navigation
    • Another thing that shocked me was realising that Google Maps doesn’t work in South Korea. I had no idea prior to planning the trip. It was only when we tried to look at places to cover during the roadtrip on Google Maps that I/we realised Google Maps had very restricted coverage for S. Korea. In Korea you had to use local apps like Kakao or Naver Maps for navigation; Waze was alright too, better than Google Maps but not as good as Naver or Kakao with regard to accessibility. It was difficult to 1. verify my account on the app, it kept cocking up initially probably coz my phone was on roaming and not using a local SIM card, and took quite a while to set up the app properly, and 2. familiarise myself with the app(s) as I’d never used them before
  • Food
    • I’m vegetarian. There was nothing for me to eat at about half the places we went to. It’s actually not that Korean food as a whole was vegetarian-unfriendly, but many of the restaurants we went to were “specialised” so they only mainly serve a particular type of meal, like samgyetang (chicken soup), KBBQ, jjim-dak (braised chicken), roast duck etc. So in all those places I just had to eat what I could to survive, which was basically plain rice, kimchi, leafy greens, some sweet onion condiment thing etc. – basically whatever side dishes there were that wasn’t meat. On the bright side those places kindly didn’t charge me for the meal, so I saved quite a bit of money.

It was a tremendous trip in all, with lots of highlights. The weather was amazing, the scenery was gorgeous, the food (in places where I did have proper options) was scrumptious. We also stayed in different types of accomodations everywhere we went, from traditional village style living to Airbnb to motel to hotel (in that order actually). Fred insisted on staying in a proper hotel in Seoul which was a bit more pricey, but in the end I was quite thankful for that because it felt really good to be able to unwind in full, *proper* comfort at the end of a long and exhausting roadtrip.

Enjoy some photos from the trip below!

Day 1 – Incheon

Day 2 – Jeonju

Day 3/4 – Busan

Day 5 – Andong

Day 6.1 – Seoraksan National Park

Day 6.2/7 – Seoul

I didn’t take any nice photos in Seoul 🙁

***

What a trip.

Now it’s back to reality in Hong Kong. Sigh.

Signing out. Peace. Guru.

 

 

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