“Asia is so awesome!” shouted one of my best friends who is half German and half Taiwanese. I’d heard that before but Asia is so vast that I am always confused by that statement. Asia does not just include China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam – which is what people where I live (Vancouver) seem to think. Asia includes India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Tajikistan, etc. So many different cultures and different places to explore in such a vast area – where do you start exploring?
The standard Thailand/Indonesia route is very tourist friendly and a lovely area to explore. I had done Thailand already so I thought about checking out a different country in Asia but on the eastern side of Asia – somewhere off the beaten track. I was going with a girlfriend of mine who works for Air Canada so we could get a cheap ticket from Vancouver direct to wherever Air Canada flies. As interesting as Japan sounded, it was still a bit too standard for me. I was looking at the map and I noticed KOREA – this peninsula close to China, close to Japan but not nearly as talked about…well except for North Korea and Kim Jong Il’s human rights abuses. $300 and 11 hours, we were in Seoul for 5 nights! See video below!
- After researching all the different areas to stay in, we found a hotel in Myongdong area (the shopping/market district) for around $80CDN a night. Small-ish hotel room but clean and with a fantastic toilet. 🙂
- By far, the highlight of Seoul for me was how friendly the people were – I was amazed at how polite, friendly and accommodating the locals were. There were quite a few times that we were lost and we asked someone on the street for directions/help. Although English isn’t widely spoken, simple hand gestures and smiles did the trick and usually we were accompanied by the stranger to our destination.
- I wouldn’t say Seoul is cheap – it really felt very similar to Vancouver prices except for the odd street food stalls or counterfeit goods.
- Street food was pretty cheap – usually $1CAD for whatever grub you could find – I tried a lot of it (which is apparent in the video) except for the meat. It looked too sketchy.
- So it might be terrible to say this but I didn’t realize one of my favourite Taiwanese restaurants has a branch in Seoul. It’s called Din Tai Fung and the pork dumplings are OUT OF THIS WORLD. Please see the video – yum. Again, cost-wise it was pretty similar to Vancouver.
- We also went to Bulgogi Brothers for Korean BBQ which was reliable and tasty.
- Note: Coffee in Seoul is pretty expensive – a latte usually costs about $6 or so. Traditional Korean teahouses also charge about $6 or $7 for tea.