I’m writing from 32,000ft in the air, which is a nice change from the usual bus, boat or guesthouse locations I’ve used in the last two months. I’m en-route to Bangkok, having just spent 30mins in Taipei, Taiwan airport (Hong Kong was my pitstop on the way to Seoul; going on airport quality alone I’ll be visiting Hong Kong way before Taiwan).
Aboard a ‘plane seems the natural place for me to wrap up and conclude my trip, and I’ll take a stab at that now.
My last few days in Korea were, as was par for the course, excellent. Wednesday was spent wandering around the fortress just outside Cheongju. It took around 90mins to walk the loop, but Neil and I stopped frequently to take photos and chat about life. It literally screamed “Asia!”. The countryside was beautiful, the various temples were intricately detailed, a man was playing a flute in the woods, and military jets were performing exercises overhead. If I had to sum up South Korea in one experience I’d have a hard time beating that.
Yesterday, my last full day in Korea, was spent relaxing while Neil was at work. In the evening we went out for ‘Budae Jiggae’ (lit: army soup), which was a collection of meat and noodles boiled together. It’s a traditional dish that has its roots planted in the post-war era, a time where meat was scarce (and usually taken from US military bases – hence the name). It was incredibly tasty and, given how easy it is to make, I’ll be cooking it for myself when I’m home. I think I’ll leave the rice liquor and pickled cabbage in Korea, though. After dinner we hit some balls in the batting cages (something I haven’t done since Ohio in 1996!), and then spent the remaining few hours in ‘Ethnic Bar’ (only in Asia…) smoking shisha and drinking beer – something that was needed after such a busy week.
My time in Korea was a fitting end to my travels. It was great catching up with Neil again, and I’ve always wanted to visit Seoul since my good friend Janne (hi!) speaks highly of it. I’d heartily recommend it as an alternative destination to Japan (I have an unrelenting desire to visit the land of the rising sun), but since I haven’t been there yet I can’t make a comparison. What I will say, however, is that if you’re looking for a destination in Asia that’s both culturally different, yet modernised and relatively westernised, Korea is a good bet. Next on my list in this part of the world is Japan, Hong Kong (and not just the airport) and Vietnam, but it’ll be a few years before I get to visit them.
So, what now? Well, I’m not going to get all soppy and reminisce about various events of the trip, because it’s difficult and I don’t want to do it. Instead, I’ll leave you with the promise of a metric tonne of photos that I’ll be uploading when I get back home.
After the inevitable photofest, the blog will remain relatively stagnant until I go away again. This will either be December (a possible Barcelona trip) or January (a definite and cemented ski trip to Austria). Given that this is a travel blog, periods of dormancy are to be expected. Until I (hopefully!) progress up into a role that jets me around the world, I’ll be updating only when I’m off on vacation somewhere.
Right, I have 5hrs left on this flight to Bangkok (which is where I’ll be posting this entry from), and then a 12hr flight to London; I think I’ve earned some sleep. Check back in a few days when I begin to upload my photos. It’ll take a couple of days to pick out the best ones, and it’s no easy feat given I have 2500 to pick through. Until then.