A few weeks ago Lily and I got back from visiting my college roommate in South Korea. He and his family are stationed there for a couple years and we took the opportunity to see all of them and to explore this fascinating country for 10 days.
Over the next week or so I am going to write about time in South Korea including trips to two different parts of the country, 7 of the 12 World Heritage Sites, the Demilitarize Zone (DMZ), and several funny stories, adventures, and information we had or found out about. The World Heritage Sites in South Korea are Baekje Historic Area, Changdeokgung Palace, Dolmen Sites, Gyeongju, Haeinsa Temple, Hahoe and Yangdong Villages, Hwaseong Fortress, Jeju Island, Jongmyo Shrine, Namhansanseong, Tombs of Joseon Dynasty, and Seokguram Grotto & Bulguksa Temple.
Today I just want to explain a few basic travel tips for traveling in South Korea. First and foremost is the fact that most apps you use around the world will not work in South Korea and they have their own apps you need to get. For example, Google Maps will show you where everything is, but not a route to get there. For that you have to use NaverMap. While it is a pain to have another app to use NaverMap is accurate and fairly easy to follow. I routed us all around the country will no mess ups and relatively little waiting time between trains, subways, and buses.
In order to use a translator it is better to use Papago instead of Google translate. It seems the translation is more accurate. You can also take a picture of a sign or menu and the app will translate it for you (Google Translate does also but not as accurate I am told). This is helpful when ordering food (although pictures of dishes help also, haha) and finding your way around. Unlike other places I have visited that use the Latin or Cyrillic alphabet, the various Asian alphabets (including South Korea) look so different that I was rather lost in figuring out what words to even look for. Interesting English translations were provided less than expected and where they showed up seems quite random.
Our trip to South Korea began the day we said goodbye to my parents in Honolulu. They flew home and we flew to Seoul Korea (Incheon International Airport (INC)). Due to the International Date Line we left at noon and arrived 9 hours later at 6pm the next day!! :0 !!! Once processed through Customs, Immigration, and given a covid test (our expense of $65ish each) my friend and his wife picked us up and took us to Osan Air Force Base, which is the home of the 51st Fighter Wing.
The next two days we spent on or near the base hanging out with his family. Three of his four daughters (fourth one is in the US going to college) took us off base as we walked around a Korean area that caters to the American airmen called the SED and show us where the subway station was. I felt good to just hang out and relax for a few days. After that we grabbed a backpack and took off for a three day adventure on the opposite side of the peninsula, but you will have to wait until the next post to read about that. 🙂