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Planning for South Korea - comments please

Planning for South Korea - comments please

May 5th, 2010, 06:55 AM
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"the shopping is good in seoul however, but nothing in comparison to bali or bangkok..." - I guess I took that to be "faint praise".
thursdaysd is offline  
May 5th, 2010, 07:17 AM
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bob weren't you on a tour following someones red flag at the time?
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
May 5th, 2010, 08:03 AM
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A tweet sent me here: http://www.traveldudes.org/travel-ti...uth-korea/2795 - sounds a bit sweet for my taste. The site also has some other info on SK that could be useful.

hawaiiantraveler - lol!
thursdaysd is offline  
May 5th, 2010, 11:45 AM
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I have found the website by the Korea Tourism Organization to be excellent. You can find information on it about temple stays...but for convenience here is the link--and just scroll down for the locations:


If you haven't browsed through the rest of of this site, I recommend you do so.

Last summer I did some shopping in my local community (1million+ population) and came home empty handed. What I found was items that were basically the same as here. I wanted Tshirts to bring back with Hangul writing. NOTHING...all the shirts were in English! I Had a teaching assistant who gave me one for a going away present and she had to order it off the internet. Go figure?

One thing I did find in Seoul that I love are the gray jackets that are worn by monks and nuns. They are a bit pricey but I wear mine all the time. I also found very nice loose cotton shirts with Mandarin collars in a Korean formal clothing store that are wonderful. They actually are made for men, but I wear it all the time and have received many good comments.

I kept a blog while living in Asia and you might find parts of it interesting. The section on Korea starts in June (use the archive on the side).


I leave on June 17th for a month in South Korea. In September I will return to Hanoi for the semester....so if your trip gets you to Hanoi in the fall give me a shout...we can have a mini GTG in Hanoi!!!

....and a final SHOUT to whoever is listening. I have my FINAL CLASS in 20 minutes. I am retiring and today is my final classroom day after 30+ years of university teaching. I have a smile on my face and am ready to roll into retirement --which means travel and of course teach! : )
gailmo is offline  
May 5th, 2010, 12:13 PM
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Congratulations, gailmo! I hope your students stop surfing and listening to their iPods long enough to say farewell and thanks.
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May 5th, 2010, 12:17 PM
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Thanks so much, gailmo! I'll spend some quality time on your site.

Would love to GTG, but I'll be in Japan in September. No SEA until next year.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 5th, 2010, 12:26 PM
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gailmo - I tried to leave a comment on your blog, but it didn't work. Here's the comment:

"Really interested to hear they've mechanized rice planting. I suppose they must have done so in the US, but I'm so used to seeing people bent double in the fields in Asia I hadn't thought about how else to do it! (And very glad to hear about the toilet situation - I can cope with squats, but would prefer not.)"

And welcome to retirement!
thursdaysd is offline  
May 5th, 2010, 06:19 PM
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Gailmo - I read you blog with interest particularly as you were in Gwangju. I'm heading a bit further south to Gangjin in August so was really glad read a bit about the countryside. I'll only be there for 2 weeks but I was also very glad to hear you could find tonic!!!!! I have been wondering if I'd find some to go with the gin. Maybe it will be even harder in Gangjin which seems to be a small town of about 30000.

Looks like I'm going to get a bit wet in August too!

Congratulations on your retirement.
MaryW is offline  
May 6th, 2010, 12:04 PM
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I'm really impressed with the Korean Tourist office. They sent me a load of stuff - three maps, brochures, two tour listings, the booklet on Seoul and a DVD. I wonder if this will be like Syria last year - hardly any American tourist but loads of Europeans?
thursdaysd is offline  
May 6th, 2010, 04:44 PM
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And all the cars are white, gray, black or beige. If you see one of another color, you see an expat. That kind of sums up Korea to me - no high, no low - just bland.
wintersp is offline  
May 14th, 2010, 01:56 PM
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if you are going to Seoraksan during peak season be prepared to be stuck in traffic getting there and going up the mountain. it took us 8 hrs each way from seoul via bus. and then hiking up the mountain, we starting hiking at 6am to avoid the rush of people. with being said, the views were very pretty.
jyoung is offline  
May 14th, 2010, 02:28 PM
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I was in SK for about five days in 1998 -- I think I posted this info recently on another thread -- flew into Gimpo and were met by a friend who took us to Lotte World Hotel (just a hoot). I toured an ancient palace and museum in Seoul with our friend, then an ancient shopping area in Seoul with teeny tiny lanes (while MP attended a conference). The metro system is excellent, although Koreans stared at me as if I were from outer space -- the only gringo woman for miles!

We took a train the next day to Pomun Lake near Kyongju, an ancient city from the Shilla kingdom what was unearthed a number of years earlier when a development was planned for the site. When the excavations began and the objects and sites were revealed, the development was aborted and archaeological excavations began. Kyongju is the best to see in terms of historic sites. We had only enough time to see a few of them, but enjoyed them in any case. I enjoyed S. Korea, but have no desire to return. For a few days, it's well worth the trip.

It seems as if you're doing national parks. We didn't see them., but SK is about 65% mountainous, so you should be rewarded by some lovely scenery.
indianapearl is offline  
May 14th, 2010, 02:55 PM
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Thanks for the warning jyoung - sounds like it's a good thing I'm planning to overnight.

Thanks indianapearl - I figure this is my one visit, so I'm trying to put in some variety. I'll check out the site you mention.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 20th, 2010, 09:36 AM
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On my United flight today, I discovered that Seoul is the target this month for their magazine feature "three perfect days".


I've not been to many of the places mentioned, but some of the suggestions seem interesting.
someotherguy is offline  
May 20th, 2010, 09:59 AM
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Thanks someotherguy! I certainly won't be at the Ritz, lol, and I think I'll skip most of the shopping, but I do appreciate the food and restaurant tips. Well, most of them - abalone porridge for breakfast? And I won't be seeking out the globefish...

I noticed a clip about the Icheon pottery village MaryW mentioned, and this sounds good: "My favorite thing to do is walk on the banks of the Cheonggyecheon Stream at night. It always has some beautiful light installations on display."
thursdaysd is offline  
Jul 1st, 2010, 07:05 PM
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I've being doing some more reading on South Korea, and as a result have changed my itinerary quite a bit.

- The info from the Korean Tourist Office indicated that there were a few places where I could overnight in a traditional building, and I was especially taken with Jeonju.
- Neither the updated Lonely Planet, nor the other guidebooks I checked (Rough Guide and Moon) mentioned the mountain train I had planned to ride near Taebaek, which also looked to have limited tourist resources.
- It seemed a pity to miss Gyeongju, which had managed to survive the war and the Japanese occupation in better shape than the rest of the country.
- I was spending a lot of time in the country, and very little in towns, and Seoraksan National Park was a long way from anywhere else except Seoul.

So now I have:
Sun Oct 10 - Arrive Seoul Gimpo 10:40 am
Mon Oct 11 - Seoul - friends of friends are returning to Korea shortly before I get there, and have kindly volunteered to show me around Seoul
Tue Oct 12 - Bus to Danyang, afternoon visit to Guinsa temple
Wed Oct 13 - Danyang - visit Sobaeksan National Park and maybe a cave
Thu Oct 14 - Buses to Gyeongju - possible visit to the Hahoe Folk Village in Andong (where I may have to change buses), and a visit to the Herbal Medicine Market in Daegu (ditto)
Fri Oct 15 - Gyeongju - museum and in-town sights
Sat Oct 16 - Gyeongju - Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto
Sun Oct 17 - Bus to Jeonju - plan to stay in a hanok
Mon Oct 18 - Jeonju - check out the handicrafts
Tue Oct 19 - Bus to Seoul, possible visit to Incheon pottery and/or Suwon on the way
Wed Oct 20 - Seoul

Note - I've decided the Moon guidebook is better than Lonely Planet for Korea - maybe not for the maps and transport, but for the sightseeing information and hotel recommendations.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2010, 05:52 PM
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Hi Thursday - I'll be going to Gyeongju and the temple and grotto so will let you know what I find. Also Daegu and Incheon.

As I said before I'm on atour(of potters) so will be focusing mostly on potters, galleries, museums but we will get to look at other major sites too. We won't have much time to wander around but I'll keep my eyes open and report on anything significant that might appeal to you.

We leave early August and back late August so should still give you a little time to fine tune a few of your ideas.
MaryW is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2010, 06:24 PM
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Thanks MaryW - hope you have a great trip. I just found out that Danyang has a "ceramic village", so that's another reason to go there. Will be interested to hear whether you get to the market in Daegu, as I'll need to fit it in between buses if I go.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2010, 11:29 AM
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My son spent almost four years in Gwangju teaching English and just came back last month. We visited him in 2008 and as much as I wanted to like Korea as much as I do Japan it just fell short in many areas. Seoul was fine for hotels, restaurants and shopping but once we got to Gwangju it was a different story. I was surprised at the lack of decent hotels, especially knowing they hosted the World Cup in 2002. It turned into an adventure/wild goose chase after trusting our son to chose our hotel. He made reservations for us at a "love motel" that was really awful! He thought it was fine because it had a King size bed and flat screen tv and it was clean. It had no windows and a flourescent light. I refused to stay there and insisted there must be a better place to stay in a city of 1.5 million. This led to several crazy cab rides to various hotels that were awful. Finally we went to a resort that was in the hills on the outskirt of the city. The common area was nice but the room was pretty tacky and I have never felt a mattress that hard! The food we had was good, Gwangju is known for it's good produce and variety of food. I like Korean food but I find that most of the dishes have the same flavors so after awhile it gets boring. One of my favorite things we saw was a beautiful tea plantation outside of Gwangju in Boseong. I enjoyed the train ride from Seoul to Gwangju,it looks a lot like the geography in Japan.


Maybe you crossed paths with my son! He lived near the university the last stint there. He also worked at the English language radio station helping with local news broadcast. He also looked for t-shirts with Hangul and finally found some with the name of the local baseball team. If you are there now maybe you can find one!

Here is a link to pictures from the trip if anyone is interested. The first pics are Japan, halfway through is Seoul. The hotel is the one with purple walls and purple leather couches...that is the "nice" hotel. Don't ask why my husband included pics of his then new car!
SeeHag is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2010, 01:27 PM
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Thursday: As far as markets go, the Noryangin fish market in Seoul is wonderful. We walked through, marveling at the strange looking sea creatures on display, then picked out various shell and fin fish and took them to one of the restaurants in the market, where they were cooked and served to us.

There is good food in Korea; not all of it is meat. I had very good fish, great Korean fried chicken (all the rage here in NYC these days) and good vegetables. Be sure to try the excelelnt soon doo bu tofu soups with seafood.

There are also lots of other Asian cuisines to sample. I had a fantastic lunch at the Seoul branch of DTF, the Taiwanese dumpling phenomenon. I think there are now two branches in the city.

I did not find the shopping to be very good; there are some lovely ceramics and inlaid mother-of-pearl items on offer in the small craft shops of Insadong but they were very pricey.

Much of the rest is just variations on the western "designer" theme. There are some interesting local clothing designers but I did not delve into that and I know this is not your interest...

I saw only Seoul (and DMZ/Incheon) so cannot comment on other locations..

My money is on you--you will discover things that I did not, I am sure.
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