A Travellerspoint blog

South Korea

South Korea-Jejuing on the hop-on hop-off

Yesterday, I awoke early in Jeju. Unlike Seoul, the weather here is great-nice and sunny and hot. I was able to wear my shorts for the first time in a long time. To start the day I got on the hop-on hop-off bus across the street (after breakfast at the hostel of noodles). The ride was nice-and the first stop was a museum. I didn't want to get off at the museum originally, but a lot of people got off at the museum, and the women walking around the bus collecting tickets encouraged me to get off there, so that is what I did.

When I was at the museum-I still couldn't figure out why I was there. It was a beautiful day, and I didn't see a reason to stay indoors. There didn't seem to be a lot to do around there-so I went to a restaurant and had a second breakfast of more noodles, and then caught the next hop-on hop-off bus.

This time I rode the bus a few stops to a large market. I actually needed to buy something-a converter for my computer/phone. The current one I had works with plus that are on a horizontal strip, but not the vertical wall plug in the hostel. So I walked down various isles-found lots of food, and had some tangerine chocolates, and a pancake style snack (I was full), but couldn't find the plug. I went to an underground mall, that looked small-but it had about 100 stores, and still couldn't find a plug. Finally, when I walked outside, I found a pedestrian mall, and here i found a wall plug. As a matter after buying it-I found a street vendor with a better one-so now I had two.

i got on the hop-on hop-off bus again, and took it to a more scenic area-a suspension bridge called Yongyeon pond with a gazebo near the beach.

Then I took a walk along the path to a road the ran along the coast, and I saw the coast, which was filled with large black lava stones from the dormant volcano. I kept walking in the late afternoon, as the sun was going down, and watched the sunset. Then I an expensive dinner ($15.00-a lot more then I usually spend on meals), and had some good fresh seafood. I waited a long time for a bus to go back home (the hop-on hop-off busses had long stopped running). Eventually, a bus came-but went back to the airport instead of the bus station (which was near the hostel), got on another bus, and got home. After I got back, I saw I had an extra wall-plug, so I actually bought two I didn't need.

Posted by DavidPearlman 15:27 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

South Korea-From the Lazy Fox to the Jeju

Yesterday, I checked out of the Lazy Fox Den Hostel in Seoul. The Lazy Fox Den is a fun hostel where everyone is a lot younger than I am. The check-in is open from 8:30 until 11:00, and then everyone goes out. It was a fun place to stay, and they encouraged me to come back next time I am in Seoul.

I went to Gimpo airport, a small airport, and caught the flight to Jeju island, which is supposed to be a "Korean Hawaii", with beautiful spots, volcanoes, etc. Ordinarily I prefer big cities, but I could use a break, (I figured out I have traveled on 9 different Metro systems since I started travelling less then 3 months ago). After the one hour flight-Gimpo felt nice, it was warmer as Seoul was cold.

i went to the hostel, which was close to the bus station, and learned laundry was free but the dryer cost money, about $2.00. Since I have been washing my clothes in the shower and drying them outside on a clothes line, it was nice to have regular laundry. The washing machine is on the roof, on the 4th floor. So I washed my clothes and put the clothes in the machine next door, which I assumed was the dryer. When I returned half an hour later, I learned it wasn't a dryer-but another washing machine. So my clothes we're washed twice. I then learned the dryer was in the basement. So I had to take the clothes down 4 flights of stairs from the roof the the basement. I also learned that unlike in Seoul, the staff doesn't speak that much English here.

But after roughly 2 hours of washing my clothes twice, I did have freshly cleaned and washed clothes.

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:15 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Seoul-South Korea-Who The F__K is Buddha?

Yesterday, I awoke after a good night sleep at the hostel for the last full day in Seoul. I had breakfast as usual, during which I was speaking to a woman who was checking out about what she did the day before. She mentioned she attended the Buddhist festival, which had bands and people dancing, and she said it was soooo much fun. I was indeed jealous, as I spent the evening trying (and failing) to hold on to my umbrella in the streets near the hostel.

The good news is (A) The weather cleared up, so it was no longer raining, and (B) the festival was continuing on for yesterday (Sunday), so I decided to to. The festival is actually called the Lotus Lantern Festival, and dates back 1000 years in Korea, and marks Buddha's coming into the world.

Going to the festival took a ride about 40 minutes on the metro to the largest Buddhist Temple in Seoul, called Jogyesa. The temple was adorned with lanterns and paper flags of many colors. In front was a street fair encompassing many blocks. I walked along the street fair, which included vendors selling food, primarily healthy and vegetarian. I ate some of their food. There we're also Buddhist tents from various countries, including Thailand, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. There we're tents for meditation and yoga, giving demonstrations. I was dragged into a yoga demonstration tent, and I was very stiff, for not doing yoga-plus since the instructor's commands we're in Korean, i couldn't understand them. She kept saying words like "Joshipoo", or something like that.


in between all the tents, was a large dance stage, where different Buddha traditions we're shown, including group dances, and acts with large strange-looking folks dressed as dogs.

I stayed there until roughly 3:00. Today was the last day in Seoul, and the place I wanted to go was the Seoul Wall, so I took the metro 3 stations and went to the Seoul Wall (sort of like a great wall of China but around Seoul). I walked maybe 1/2 a block up the wall, and took some pictures-so at least I saw it.

Then I went back to the festival-there was supposed to be a parade to conclude the festival, but first, around 6:00, there was a dance off between teams who looked about High-School age. They danced off to various hip-hop songs and other genres, including ones with lyrics that we're very non-Buddhist like, such as "Show me your fuckin pose", and a grunge version of "Living Next Door to Alice" (Who the fuck is Alice?"). Nobody else seemed to see the irony that these we're played at a Buddhist festival.

After what i think was 1/2 an hour-the parade started. Various teams of folks holding different types off lanterns (in different shapes, some shaped like hearts) did certain dance routines. Leading the parade was a giant dragon. The dragon would periodically move up and down. I followed the parade up the street. Huge crowds of seemingly hundreds, maybe thousands of people we're watching. I walked along side the parade as it made various turns throughout the city.

At the end of the parade was a huge stage, and large screens showing the stage was being filmed (Macy's Thanksgiving Day style). On the stage, the dancers did various acts.

After the acts, all of the dancers did a group dance together, and then the Master of Ceremonies asked everyone (including spectators), to get on the floor and form a conga line, and dance Korean party music, and fast paced dance music. The event turned into a dance party, with people of all ages participating, right on a corner of downtown Seoul.

After the party was over-I took the metro back to the area around the hostel, and ate various street foods for dinner.


Posted by DavidPearlman 16:18 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Seoul South Korea-Found Indonesian Music and Lost Umbrellas

i woke up late yesterday, since I got to bed 4:00 am the night before and had a headache. I woke up roughly around 8:45-which is late for me but really really early for most people in the hostel.

This was just as well because the weather was pretty crummy, the temperature was in the mid 50's and it was raining. After eating breakfast and doing some work on the computer, I set out wearing the sweater and leather jacket for the National Museum of Korea, which was a 3 different trains on the Seoul Metro.

The museum itself, in a giant building was a short walk from the metro in the pouring rain, and while it was giant, I couldn't get much into it. I went to the first exhibit, something like Korea before the Joseon dynasty-starting in 1392, and all sorts of paintings/artifacts, and after what may be 15 minutes-the lack of sleep caught up with me. I went outside and took a nap on a bench in the museum.

After a 15 minute nap (i think), i went back to the museum, and looked at the guide, it appeared that the third floor might be more interesting with old pottery, and something emulating the Terracotta warriors in China-it wasn't. I just gave up and went to the cafeteria for lunch, which consisted of some mushroom and rice dish, and went outside.

Outside, my whole opinion of the Museum turned around, in the museum plaza, which had a roof to keep out the rain, I heard the Lantun Orchestra, playing to a large crowd of family and children sitting on steps. The orchestra, which came from Jakarta and specializes in Indonesian Jazz had an absolutely phenomenal sound, complete with a smiling, wonderful lead vocalist, and instruments that, in addition to a normal Jazz sound, sound like they come from Indonesia. I watched the band as they played 6 songs, or so, and stayed till the end and purchased a CD.

After that, I went back to the hostel and took a nap for a few hours.

At around 6:00 pm, I went out again. First I went out for some Korean Barbecue. At home I don't eat much meat-but I like to eat food that is indigenous to a specific region. On the way out i borrowed one of the hostel umbrellas, as it was still raining. (someone here said people forget to return the umbrellas-but I was committed and i was going to).

First I stopped for Korean Barbecue. Normally, I don't eat meat, but I like to eat food indiginous to a specific region, and i stopped here. I dropped my umbrella off at the entrance.

The barbecue, cooked in front of me on a small grill, was delicious. On the way out i collected the umbrella, and then I walked around Hongdae, and stopped at a place called Dystopia (with copies of 1984, and Animal Farm on display), for a $6.00 Mocha drink-all coffee is expensive here for some reason. i sat there for a while, and read my travel guide. On the way out, I looked for my umbrella. I couldn't find it. I thought I found it-(I wasn't truly sure which was mine since I only had it a few hours). I asked others in the cafe an umbrella i thought might be mine was there's-the person working at the cafe thought I was bothering others I guess-so she asked the other people). Out of two possibilities, they we're both claimed by people there. The second umbrella, the cafe girl asked every person in the cafe-and the very last person said it was his.

So I lost the umbrella. I was umbrella-less. I walked around without an umbrella. It didn't really bother me. Throughout my life, I always almost preferred to get wet then to carry an umbrella. In this case, it was just a light drizzle, so with my hat I was ok. It was at this time that I noticed that EVERY Korean carries an umbrella. Old people carry umbrellas. Kids carry umbrellas. Ladies carry umbrellas. Men carry umbrellas. Nerds have umbrellas. The cool with tattoos and piercings carry umbrellas. The only exception is that with couples, sometimes one is carrying an umbrella shielding the couple, (in which case the other is usually carrying a folded-up umbrella).


I felt like I would let the Lazy Fox Hostel down if I didn't return the umbrella, but I bought a new one for the hostel for around $10.00, and came back around 11:15 and went to bed.

Posted by DavidPearlman 17:53 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Seoul-War Museum and Tough Night

Yesterday, I awoke relatively early and went to the Korean War Museum. The museum had a few different parts, one with the weapons and heroes from the wars of from 2333 BC. This wasn't really interesting. Most of the museum was of course from the Korean War. I learned a lot of the Korean War. The North Korean communists nearly captured the entire Korean peninsula-which is when the UN intervened. The UN was founded in 1945, after World War II, and the UN declaring an act of war was one of the first acts. Someone, maybe President Truman or General Maccarthur, thought that if the North Koreans won that would be the beginning of world war III. I also learned that the UN members who thought almost captured the entire peninsula, when the Chinese communists started fighting hard. Of course there was a truce, but never an official end to the war. There were exhibits of airplanes used, a Cadillac given to the ruler of South Korea by the US, other stuff. It was a nice museum. While I was there, some kids interviewed me. I learned that in Korea, kids study until 1:00 am and awake at 6, so they can get into a good university. They asked me what I thought and I didn't know.

i got out around 2-3, and looked for a place for lunch. i couldn't find any-so got on a bus and took it to a neighborhood with restaurants, and found a buffet. I ate a lot. The metro to the hostel ran nearby, so after eating a lot I went back to the hostel and took a nap for a few hours.

After a few hours-it was dinner time, and I went out with some folks from the hostel for chicken-but there was no chicken, and I didn't want it. I had some octopus in the park with some of the guys (take out).

Then we went out around 11:00 am. Went to the same bars as the other night. I didn't play beer pong this time-I just watched. One bar checked my id and wouldn't let me in-There is a maximum age limit too which I exceeded by 15 years according to the bouncer-so I went elsewhere where some other folks we're. Made it back around 4:00 am after some dumplings.

Posted by DavidPearlman 17:25 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

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