South Korea

Looking At The Next Olympics

With the Rio Olympic games in full swing, I've been consuming as much Olympics coverage as possible. I'm a huge fan of the Olympic games, and I've always wanted to go to an actual Olympics. With the next winter games in South Korea and the next summer games in Japan, I'm seriously considering attending these games in person if at all possible.



Will I be able to use points an miles to get to South Korea? I'm not sure if that is a possibility or not. I have very little experience with the games and not many people I know have tried to attend. If at all possible it might be more worth while to get a economy class ticket and bump to first/business class with miles if there is low availability to directly use miles for travel. 

Another thing that might be an issue is getting a hotel in the area. In Tokyo, I doubt this will be much of an issue. When it comes to South Korea though, the city isn't the largest international tourist destination and likely doesn't have the options that a place like Seoul has available. Then there is the issue if points and miles will be usable for the stays at these hotels during the games.

Tickets for Korea go on sale in October and I'm going to seriously consider attending some events. I'll be keeping you all up to date on my plans and efforts to attend the Olympic games in the future. 

My Top 3 Destinations

Over the last few years, I've started to travel pretty extensively around the world. My international travels started in London, then blossomed pretty quickly from there. Now I've been to 5 different continents, 11 countries, and by the end of the year will have picked up at least 2 more countries and the last of the 6 main continents (sorry Antarctica, you'll have to wait a little while). In all of my traveling, there have been some pretty big stand outs for me that I cannot wait to return to. Here are my top 3 destinations so far:



 

London, England

London was the first place I ever visited internationally. The trip was short, much like most of my trips, but a memorable one. Since that time, I've been through the airport in London many times, but never made it back into the city. This is something that needs to change and soon. London is an amazing city, and one that mixes the modern and old city feels very well.

London boasts one of the most amazing collections of art, science and historical museums anywhere in the world. From the Tate Modern, to the Globe Theater there is so much to see in London. At night you can climb aboard the Millennium Eye, I say at night because the view is amazing with the city lights.

Getting around in London is as easy as hopping on the tube and riding pretty much anyplace you'd want to be. London is amazing and it'll draw you back.

 

Sydney, Australia

Yes, I am highly recommending you go down under for your next trip. Sydney is one of those places people don't often think about because the trip is so damn long in the air. If you do fly there, make it a business class or better sort of trip. I made it in economy, and 15-16 hours in economy isn't fun... though Qantas makes it slightly better.

People in Australia are some of the most friendly you'll ever meet. The food is very similar to England, lots of fish and chips, but they add in a bit of Vegemite to morning meals to make it their own. While I'm on the topic, keep at least 30 paces from Vegemite... don't say I didn't warn you.

A visit to Circular Quay is a must for any visits. There you can eat, shops, walk around, catch a play at the famous Sydney Opera House (yes I did that), and catch a ferry across the harbor. On the other side of the harbor is the world famous Sydney Zoo, an absolute must see for any visitor.

Sydney is a place which always sticks out in my mind.

 

Seoul, South Korea

I know what your thinking, "really? South Korea?" at least that seems to be the reaction I often get. Here I'm breaking from my trend of choosing English speaking countries. There is a good reason for choosing South Korea and that largely to do with the people. South Korean's are very friendly, fun and happy. While there was a major language barrier everywhere I went, there was no point that I felt uncomfortable in South Korea. 

The city is huge, but worth every second of any visit. Museums, observation towers, old temple grounds, and an amazing market. Despite being sick when I visited last time, the trip was a hit with me and continues to stick out as a highlight of all of my travels. 

If you ever get the chance to visit South Korea, do not think twice about it, Seoul is amazing!

 

Future

These stand out at the big three destinations to date. With Dubai, Cape Town, Honk Kong, Tokyo, Melbourne, Queenstown, and so many many more on my list, this is likely to change in the coming years. Still, these are the 3 places I'd most jump at a chance to revisit if the price is right.

 

My Thoughts on Seoul

Now that I'm back from Seoul, adjusting back to East Coast time zone and back to the daily, what did I think of my trip to Seoul?



My first experience in traveling to a country that speaks a foreign language was last year when I made a trip to France. At that point I had been to a few other countries, but they all spoke English. Going to France I learned a few things. First, high school French gave me a surprising base of knowledge to read French. Second, I can't understand a bit of it when it's spoken. Lastly, I wasn't the biggest fan of France. I'm not even sure I can explain why I felt so uncomfortable in France, but I did.

Going into the trip to South Korea, I feared that I may experience a similar viewpoint on Korea because of the language barrier. Boy was I wrong about that. The moment I stepped through customs and into the airport, I was happy to be in South Korea. The vibe everyone gives off is that they are all pleasant. From that moment forward, I loved Korea.

The city was incredible, so much to see and do, I'm not sure I even scratched the surface of this immense city. The things I was able to see were fantastic and I only wish I could have seen more. All the more reason to return as soon as I have the chance.

Getting around the city is incredibly easy to do, the metro system is extensive and from where I stayed, all of the major attractions were only a few subway stops away. Temples, museums, galleries, and more. This city was a journey that Ive been wanting to make for many year, now that I've made it, I just want to make my way back there.

Really I don't think more can be said about a city other than the fact that I cannot wait to return, that speaks volumes for a place. So while the language barrier was a mild inconvenience, Seoul made up for it with friendly people, easy signage in English and a beautiful city to explore. I have a feeling that Seoul will soon become a city I return to often.

Final Day in Seoul

Today was my last day in Seoul. I woke up and had breakfast before heading to Seoul Station. From Seoul Station I made way to the I'Park Mall. The mall is the home of many stores, restaurants and an e-sports stadium. Before coming to Seoul I had planned to go to the stadium, however, it has been exceedingly difficult to find a schedule on when games were being played.



I could not get any definite on if there was any games playing today or not, but what I could find said that there was nothing going on today. Either way I went about experiencing a shopping center in Seoul. The day started out a bit uncomfortably, the way people help in certain department stores is to stand in front of the merchandise and wait for you. Being early in the morning, I was the only one there at this time, and this meant I was waling through a department store with roughly 30 people looking at me waiting to help... it was a little odd feeling for how we do things in the US. Outside of that store though it was fairly normal. The shopping center does try to force you through stores more here, less of a main corridor like the US malls have and more of a pass through one store to get to another. Makes for a bit of a maze, still not sure I figured out the layout of that place.

At the mall I found a cute hat for my niece. Then I returned to my hotel to drop off my purchase. At this point I decided to go to a beautiful science museum I had missed earlier in the week. Then it hit me, it's Monday and many things are closed here on Monday... this also included the museum I wanted to see. So I threw away that idea and returned to the Insa-dong streets. This time I was able to really look through some stores and find some fun items for people back home. I can't suggest enough that you stop at the Insa-dong streets if you visit Seoul. All in all this was a shopping day, and I still plan to make my way back up to see some of the city at night.

Being my last full day here, what are my thoughts on Seoul now that I have been here for a while. I'm still in love with this city. Once I was able to get a feel for how to get around easily, where things were located, this city became one of my favorites. It was a bit of a surprise to me, since France was the only other place I have been that was not English speaking and I didn't like it that much. Seoul has become a fast favorite of mine and I really look forward to bringing people back with me to explore the city more. This has been an incredible introduction to Asia and a place I have fallen in love with. If you ever get the chance, come here. It seems to be low on many peoples list of places to visit, though always high on mine. Do not overlook Seoul, this is a must see from my point of view.

Day 2 and 3 in Seoul

More photos of my adventures through Seoul... Walk through my trip with me.

Day 2 started with rain

Day 2 started with rain

Made my way to the National Museum of Korea

Made my way to the National Museum of Korea

Cheonggyecheon Stream Art Exhibits

Cheonggyecheon Stream Art Exhibits

Ran into a little bit of Texas... estetic nailed!

Ran into a little bit of Texas... estetic nailed!

Day 3 started with a trip to North Seoul Tower

Day 3 started with a trip to North Seoul Tower

Beautiful view from N. Seoul Tower

Beautiful view from N. Seoul Tower

Made my way to 63 City

Made my way to 63 City

Beautiful view from the top floor of 63 City

Beautiful view from the top floor of 63 City

That have been the last few days for me. Tomorrow is the last full day in Seoul.