I’ve been working with Chungdahm Academy in South Korea for over 3 years now. Until recently, I had yet to travel home to America for a visit or any country whose primary language is English. My friends who had gone back to America for a vacation said that being home would feel weird. I did not really believe them until recently, when I went home for a vacation. Here are a few observations I made when I went back:
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Incheon, Korea is a landmark for having the best airport in the world year after year. It is still my favorite airport in the world and trust me, I have been to quite the number of airports this past year with all of the traveling done. In addition to having the best airport in the world, Incheon is also known to be the one place that the locals go to for their Chinatown. Although Chinese food and Chinese goods in Korea has its Korean influences, the Chinatown in Incheon is still worth a visit for their food.
As someone who grew up in a landlocked state nearly smack in the middle of the U.S., traveling to another state was normal. But going to another country? Too far and too expensive. In fact, while I've traveled all over the U.S., moving to Korea was the first time I'd ever left my home country. Now that I'm here, the novelty of being able to easily country-hop is still so amazing to me. I can't even count the hours I've spent planning the trips I'll be taking someday. Lucky for you, in all of my planning, I've amassed a huge amount of resources. So get ready to bookmark websites, because it's about to get real with a whole lot of information.
Tags: teaching in Korea, KTX, Korea, vacation spot in Korea, Vacations in Korea, vacation, Trips in Korea, road trips in korea, free time in korea, Thailand, Asia, Vietnam, vacation destinations, south korea, what to do on the weekend, korea bucket list, Bali, jeju, japan, taiwan, philippines, china
In the weeks before moving to South Korea I became increasingly interested in Korean culture, and one of more popular religions in Korea, Buddhism. When a friend sent me a facebook event for a temple stay in Busan, I was ready to pack one very light bag! Temple stays are programs run by Buddhist temples that allow foreigners, or anyone, to stay overnight at the temple for a set amount of time and experience a day in the life of a Buddhist monk. A room, clothes, and meals are included, along with Buddhist activites, like 108 bows and meditation.
One of the best thing about living in Seoul is being able to travel to the surrounding Asian countries, even if it's just for a weekend. This past weekend was a quick trip to Manila, Philippines to explore the food, culture and of course lifestyle. Of course, there was barely any sleep involved, maybe two hours in total for the whole weekend. At the very minimum, sleeping on the plane before working a full day.
It's not every day you experience an art exhibit where it all seems to make sense to you. I found one while teaching English in Korea.
The Korean jimjilbang is right up there with kimchi and they may in fact both compete for the top spot. They are well-known elements of Korean culture. Jimjilbangs are large public bath houses (mostly gender-segregated) and can be found on almost every street in Korea. Some are more fancy than others, but most have a handful of hot baths, showers, saunas, massage tables, lockers, sleeping areas and social meeting spaces. Jimjilbangs are usually open 24 hours a day and many people visit them to bathe, relax and sleep. Many rooms, including the saunas, have special minerals, woods and stones to create a soothing sanctuary and provide elements of traditional Korean medicine. The Korean jimjilbang is a familiar and calming oasis for all Koreans. Each is a mini spa that caters to your every need. They are more prevalent than Starbucks shops and you can spend a day in one for the cost of a latte and a snack. They sound perfect, right?
I have no intention of making you jealous, but I have to inform you that I am writing this blog post from a beach chair 4 feet from the water on the small island of Koh Samet in Thailand. It is late afternoon and the beach area in front of my resort (My bungalow is $20 a night!) is starting to clear out for the day. I personally think dusk is the best part of a beach day. The sky's color is spectacular, the sun isn't as intense as it was a few hours prior and I can finally tell by looking at my skin that yes, I in fact did manage to tan and not burn after hours of frolicking in the surf.
I tell you all this because upon traveling to the island from Bangkok, where I spent 3 days being social and saying goodbye to 2012, I have come to the realization that solo-travel may just be the best thing I have done so far in 2013. I admit I was a bit nervous to embark on my solo winter vacation to Thailand. I had traveled alone before but those trips were always only short jaunts from one place to another to meet friends, family or study abroad groups. Because my other expat friends in Korea did not share my vacation days and I knew I didn't want to stick around Seoul for another week of winter, I booked flights to Bangkok and a hostel for the first night and hoped for the best.