Ah, Korea. The land of the morning calm. It's been four months since my Winter Sonata adventure and truth be told, I still can't get over with it. In fact, I miss the super cold weather there. Behind their towering skyscrapers and historical landmarks, South Korea has this character that is very hard to resist.
Here are the seven things I learned about South Korea.
1) It's not that expensive in Korea, but it doesn't mean all commodities are super cheap. During my trip, I brought $450 with me (roughly equivalent to half a million Korean Won), and I still had a hundred and fifty thousand when I got back in Manila five days later. Well, generally speaking, the transportation and our accommodation weren't that expensive, but when it comes to food, it's the other way around. The average price of a set meal costs around KRW 8,000 (~Php 450). But I tell you, it's all worth it. There were so many side dishes served to us on top of what we've ordered. Don't get me started on their street foods, especially on Myeongdong. It's worth the try!
2) It's easy to go around Seoul and Busan. Commuting isn't really a problem in these major cities as they have a very efficient transportation system. Their bus and MRTs are all connected to each other. If you find their train stations a bit overwhelming, taxis are always available, and it's not as expensive as Japan's.
3) Koreans always pay tribute to their past. Like other countries who took pride of their heritage, Korea restored and maintained some of its cultural and historical landmarks. When in Seoul, don't forget to visit Gyeongbokdung Palace and the Bukchon Cultural Village. When I was there, I felt like I was transported back to the glorious days of Choson.
|Past to present.|
4) The locals are vain. Well, vain is actually an understatement. The cosmetic industry in Seoul is a very profitable business. They even have beauty clinics because for them, looking good is the most important thing in their life. While strolling around Myeongdong District, I couldn't help but notice a myriad of beauty shops. Most of the shops are brightly lit, colorful, and their staff is very accommodating. What's more interesting was that most products were sold at rock bottom prices. Here in the Philippines, one facial mask at Body Shop costs around PHP 75. In Myeongdong, if you buy 10 masks, you'll get 10 more for free! Best part of it? It only costs PHP 300.
5) Their winter can be really harsh. I went there last January, right in the middle of their cold winter. I never thought that their winter would be THAT cold as temperatures plunged to -19C on our first night in Seoul. My left leg hurt for three days, and I had a mild epistaxis. If you're planning to visit Korea during winter, I suggest that you should wear HeatTech jackets of Uniqlo. Trust me, it really works.
|View from Namsam Tower.|
6) Showbiz is a REAL business here in South Korea. Whether if it's KPop or the Korean drama series, South Koreans really know how to entertain their audiences. My friends went all crazy with these new KDrama shows. I don't know, but there's something in their shows that easily catches the hearts of the viewers. Is it because they show love and affection in a quirky way? Or is it because the actors were all too charming? I don't know, but one thing's for sure: the hype is fucking real. It goes the same with KPop. In Seoul, they even converted some shooting locations of the show into tourist attractions.
|Metasequioa path in Namiseom Island.|
7) Seoul-Incheon International Airport is officially my favorite airport in the world, next to Singapore's Changi International Airport. I don't know, but I won't mind if my flight's delayed for four hours if you have a great airport like Incheon. It was a good idea to stay and explore the huge terminal eight hours before our flight to Manila. It's not just an airport! You can relax in their free lounges, watch movies in their cinemas, channel your inner Elsa on their ice skating rink, and a whole lot more! Not to mention that their wifi is so fast that you won't have any troubles uploading videos on social media, or even have a seamless video chat with your loved ones. I just love this airport so much.
|Inside Seoul-Incheon International Airport.|
How about you? What are the things that you learned about South Korea?