Friday, June 17, 2016

South Korea Countdown

This is not a countdown for an upcoming South Korea trip, but a countdown for a past South Korea trip. Who counts down to the past? I do. 

10 * TEN * 열
I booked a one-way ticket ten months in advance. I wasn't coming back. Just kidding. (But if I could, I would!) I was just waiting for a cheaper fare for my return via another city. I had months until the next promo fare to decide how long I would spend in South Korea, but in the end, it was the cheapest fare that decided my length of stay. I am a slave to the airline.
Map from Visit Korea

9 * NINE * 아홉
South Korea has nine provinces (Chungcheongbuk, Chungcheongnam, Gangwon, Gyeonggi, Gyeongsangbuk, Gyeongsangnam, Jeju, Jeollabuk, Jeollanam) and eight special cities (Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju, Incheon, Sejong, Seoul, Ulsan). I want to visit all of them! But...

8 * EIGHT * 여덟
My cheap return ticket, bought six months after I bought my one way ticket to South Korea, dictated that I would only have eight whole days in the country. How should I spend it? Where should I go? What should I do? I had four months to iron out my 8-day itinerary. But did I start planning for the trip after I had sealed the deal with my return ticket? No. Procrastinator is my name.

7 * SEVEN * 일곱
I hustled three weeks before I had to fly out. I scrambled for places to see, for directions, for accommodations. I ended up with a long list of places, places scattered all over South Korea. Definitely unattainable in just eight days. By process of elimination (Too far? Too time consuming? Too expensive? Delete. Delete. Delete.) I trimmed it down to just seven citiesIncheonSeoul, Suwon, Paju, Daegu, ChangwonBusan. All others, including Jeju, would have to wait.

6 * SIX * 여섯
My scramble for places to see, for directions, for accommodations led me to download several travel apps. On the trip itself, I ended up using just six of the apps: Visit Korea,, Google My Maps, Weather, Subway Korea, KakaoTalk.

5 * FIVE * 다섯
I have seven Korean friends. Two in Seoul, one in Gyeonggi, four in Busan. I sent them all a warning that I would be in their country. Five friends did not heed the warning and I happily cleared some days on my itinerary to spend with them. Two friends went into hiding. (The two had an important company event on the day I had scheduled to be in their city, and there was no way I could change my schedule as my outgoing flight was from there.)

4 * FOUR * 넷
With my itinerary ironed out, I had four modes of transportation to wrap my head around: airplane, subway, bus, KTX (South Korea's high-speed train). Taxi was out; too expensive.

3 * THREE * 셋
Maybe it's my friends. Maybe it's the kindness of strangers. Maybe it's the culture and history interspersed in a modern city. Maybe it's all these that has tugged at my shoelaces and purse strings the third time.

2 * TWO * 둘
I jammed my things into two bags. My 33L backpack (my constant travel companion) and a duffel bag. If I had a big backpack, one that would make me look like a walking backpack, I might have used just one bag. But my back said no, I wouldn't have survived; I would have toppled backward.

1 * ONE * 하나
Then there's one. One me. Me, myself, and I. My first solo trip from beginning to end.

South Korea on Three
South Korea Countdown (you're here!)
Itinerary and Expenses
South Korea Solo: Tangible Essentials
Six Apps for a Smooth South Korea Trip
Incheon: Tail End of Cherry Blossom Season
Seoul Stays: Kam Guesthouse and Aroha Guesthouse
Seoul Food
Seoul: Songpa Naru Park and Banpo Hangang Park
Seoul: Wander Around City Hall Station
Seoul Art: Nanta!, Ihwa Mural Village, Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)
Seoul World Heritage: Jongmyo Shrine, Seolleung and Jeongneung Royal Tombs
Gyeonggi: Village Walks in Paju City
Gyeonggi: Day Trip to Suwon City
Gyeongsangnam: Haeinsa Temple
Gyeongsangnam: Find My Name in Masan, Changwon City
Busan Accommodation: Sum Guesthouse Garosugil
Busan: Beomeosa Temple
Busan: An Abundance

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