2014 Map of Our Korean Exploration Meanderings


We were impressed by how friendly people were. If we looked bewildered, someone invariably would stop to help us. We found out that most people learn English in elementary school. Even if they remember nothing else, they remember "have a nice day" (even at 9 p.m.). Many people learned English but are too shy to try to speak. Generally the Koreans look healthy and happy; they seem playful and we see them smooching frequently.

The express bus we took from Seoul to Jeonju was fast, comfortable and affordable. To read about our stay in Seoul, click here. To read about our stay in Jeonju, click here. Dimitri is excellent on logistics and his research made the trip easy. The express bus was a good way for us to travel because Audre's big Samsonite suitcase could be put under the bus in the compartment for the duration. We wanted to take the bullet train but there was no luggage check-in (or luggage wallahs) and we would have to lift the suitcase onto the train and keep our luggage with us during the ride (if there was no space in the small area at the back of the train car). 

We were delighted to learn that our T Money card (that we bought at the airport) allowed us to pay for city buses outside of Seoul--all over the country, actually. Very cool. Bus stops usually have English names and announcements in buses and subways are in Korean and English. In Jeju and in Busan, we also heard announcements in Chinese and (we think) Japanese. Addresses were difficult. Often we couldn't find street signs at all (let alone in English letters) or street numbers (fortunately Koreans use Arabic numerals). If a business had a business card, the address would usually be in Korean. So we learned to find places with directions such as: 100 meters on the left from Exit 6 of Subway Line 1.

As we traveled the countryside, saw near agricultural plots, mounds which looked like burial mounds. It turns out that they were. If you own the land you can bury people on it. That's different than the way it is in the US.

The bus from Jeonju to Wando was a longer ride and we had to change buses in Gwangju. That ride was fine, even the non-express bus portion. We spent 2 days in Wando before taking the express ferry to Jeju Island. Click here to read about our stay in Wando. That boat ride was 2 hours on a trimaran and it was rocky.

We spent 10 days on Jeju, staying in Jeju city (click here to read about it). By the time we got there we really, really needed a laundry. We had tried to find a "wash, dry, fold" place in Seoul but didn't. In our apartment we had a washer (no dryer) and didn't want our underwear to feel like paper from line-drying. We finally used the washer in our apartment with some softener that our friend, Holly, gave us. The underwear really wasn't soft even using the softener. Dimitri did a google search on laundromats in Jeju and found some. We walked and walked looking for it and then took a taxi (KRW 6,200/US$ 6)). We found a laundry that would do our laundry (even our socks and underpants--which the laundry we found in Jeonju would not) for KRW 10,000. We decided to keep looking for a laundromat. We remembered that the Lotte City Hotel (near our Jeju Amber Hotel) had coin operated washers and dryers for long term guests. We waltzed in saw the directory, went to the 6th floor, found the laundry room and did our laundry in luxurious splendor (KRW 4,000/US$4 for the wash and KRW 4,000/US$4 for the dryer). Fortunately the instructions for the machine were also in English--we had heard disastrous stories of people adding detergent to machines that automatically dispense it. After we had done our laundry, we felt absolutely triumphant. Small things make a huge difference.

Speaking of underwear, Jeju is a honeymoon destination. In the windows of shops selling lingerie there were male and female mannequins wearing matching underpants (and she in a matching bra). Very hilarious. On our ferry ride, we saw couples wearing matching outer-wear (like shirts). We didn't ask them about their underwear! 

As we got further south from Seoul, the hotel beds seemed to get harder. By the time we were sleeping in Jeju, it was as if we were sleeping on a plank. But we did sleep and did not have back aches that were any worse than usual.

Another thing that got harder to find outside of Seoul were regular tables and chairs in restaurants. In Wando, for instance, we had a difficult time finding a place to eat with our English speaking acquaintances and spent 45 minutes driving around Wando (and telephoning) looking for a restaurant (other than a shell fish grill restaurant--we had had that the night before). We finally did but it was probably the worst food in Wando! 

The best Internet connection we had was in our worst hotel--in Wando--but room 503 was the only room that had good Internet. Generally the wi-fi connections have been very good all over the country.

We found Korea to be very expensive. We hated paying KRW 6,000/US$6 for one peach and one apple, for instance. We observed the South Koreans spending very freely, as if they were very flush. Even in pricey places like Hong Kong, we did not find ordinary people's food to be so expensive. 

We were delighted with Busan. It is a very picturesque city, with mountains rising from the sea. Lots of great hiking and, using the bikes that the city makes available for free, lots of great biking by the shorelines. See the Busan city website for free bikes: http://english.busan.go.kr/SubPage.do?pageid=sub041002