Of course: The title is not absolutely truth! But he sums up the best our experience in South Korea. The sights were not a very big highlight. The mountains are hopelessly crowded with hikers, but what we always will remember, and what makes South Korea absolutely valuable and recommended as a tourist destination, is the warmth and hospitality of its people.
Our two originally planned days in Seoul became five: It was so difficult for us to leave our „host family“. „Mami“ Rebecca spoiled us every day with a large range of Korean cuisine, with „Papi“ Tom and „son“ Richard we went on Sunday in the mountains for hiking. And every evening we sat together and talked late into the night about traveling, culture, love and life. Of course we also visited Gangnam, the most famous district of Seoul, which is well known for its trendy bars and shopping malls.
From Seoul we took a trip to the „DMZ“ (demilitarized zone). It is heavily guarded by the armys of North and South Korea. There we visited a platform from which one we were able to see with binoculars across the border into the „bad neighbors country“. It is just ridiculous, sad, and a shame that nowadays there are still such hostilities between two neighbour countries! (By the way: Several South Koreans have told us that they do not see North Korea as a threat: on the contrary, they even laugh about the „little aggressive neighbour who has to draw attention to themselves with the production of nuclear weapons!“)
Our second destination was Sokcho, a small town on the east coast, which is primarily known for the raw fish specialties and the Seoraksan National Park. The raw fish we tried out by coincidence on the top of the third highest mountain in South Korea, when we spontaneously were invited by a group of hikers for lunch. This invitation was not the first and not the last one. Koreans often invited us and gave us something to eat or surprised us with small gifts. It is simply incredible and beautiful, how open and generous the South Koreans are towards strangers!
In general, we have spent a lot of time here with hiking in the wonderful autumnal colored national parks. 8-hour mountain hikes (where you can get away from the crowds) have become a part of our iteneraries.
A whole week we spent in Jeju, a volcanic island in South Korea. In addition to the mandatory hikes (including the Mount Hallasan with 1950 meters, the highest peak in South Korea), we explored the island, especially by scooter.
South Korea is a very modern and well organized country. The landscape is mostly hilly, green and well maintained. The cities are clean and manageable. As a tourist, you are not going to have any problems to find the touritic spots, because everywhere are tourists information where you can get maps and information. In additon tot hat, many people speak English, so it’s really easy to travel around. Also interesting is the food: each regular menu includes at least 5 different kinds of side dishes in all colors and flavors as well as a soup. Granted: to some dishes you have to get used to. But after China, there is nothing in terms of food that is going to surprise us.
We easily could have stayed longer in Korea. Not because of the sights, but because of the people. Unfortunately, it was ultimately a question of our budget. The expenses of transportation, accommodation and especially food are considerable very high (food in Switzerland is significantly cheaper!)
Furthermore, here it is getting colder and soon the winter will arrive. And as we’re really not made for the cold weather, our journey continues towards Southeast Asia : Myanmar (Burma) is the name of our next destination. From Busan, the second largest city in South Korea, we fly on November 2 in this apparently very fascinating country that just recently has opened for tourism.
Myanmar is still pretty retarded in terms of infrastructure. Whatever we will experience there between temples, Buddha statues and pagodas – you will rad it in our blog as soon as weg get a good internet connection (possibly earliest in December when we arrive in the next country).
Stay tuned in – Best wishes,
Silvan & Veronica