Wednesday, October 31, 2012

High-Speed Train to Seoul

Kay and I caught the high-speed train, the KTX, from Daegu to Seoul. Travel time is estimated to be 1 hour and 54 minutes while our drive to Daegu with Brandon and Wonny was nearly 4 hours. How fast is the KTX? See for yourselves. The rocking is just me being unsteady and the noise in the background is the food cart.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Off to Daegu

We are off to Daegu, where Brandon and Wonny are living, a 3 to 4 hour drive, depending upon traffic, through the mountains southeast of Seoul, or it's a 2 hour train ride. We plan to stay in their high rise apartment for 3 night then return to Seoul for one full day before flying home. I'll have to admit that despite enjoying our visit to South Korea immensely, I'm starting to yearn for home and the familiar, the primary reason being the language barrier. If I were here any longer, I would definitely take a language course for travelers. Google and the others still have a lot of work to do on their translation App's. I'm looking forward to a 'Star Trek' style translator. Well, enough of that, lets see what's in Daegu. Use the link below to go to all the pictures in Picasa.
Link to Photo Album Off to Daegu

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Wedding Day in Seoul

This day belongs to Brandon and Wonny and pictures are worth a thousand words. Use the link below to go to the picture album in Picasa.
Link to Photo Album Wedding Day in Seoul

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Seoul Man

Call me the "Seoul Man" because it feels so good to be back in Seoul after three days on Jeju Island. The busy streets of Seoul are energizing and alive with lights, noise, traffic, people, storefronts and open markets. At times, it seems that all of Seoul is out and about on the streets. Catch a vendors eyes and they'll solicit you to buy their goods. Just about anything you need can be found at the marketplace. Keep an eye out for motorbikes though, because riders use them to maneuver through the slow moving traffic so they can be seen riding the wrong way in traffic or often using the sidewalks with the hordes of pedestrians. The street activity envelopes people and compels me to often wander late into the evening. Our new apartment in Seoul is on 11th floor overlooking a busy intersection. It offers great views of the cityscape, but traffic noise is a constant background sound that never sleeps. Use the link below to go to the photo album in Picasa.
Link to Photo Album Seoul Man

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jeju Island

Jeju Island has been a nice break from the business of the big cities, but it is a lot more touristy than I had realized. There are many interesting formations, big and small, on the island due to its volcanic beginnings along with numerous other attractions, both natural and man made, and this all draws Korean and foreign tourist by the bus loads. One of the major products of Jeju is tangerines and there are farms everywhere. The big surprise to Kay and I is number English speaking travelers we have encountered with Jejueco Tours. Haven't heard so much English since leaving home. The travelers we met are Indian from the U.S., Singaporean, Malaysian, and Phillippino. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know other travelers. Kay and I were on our own yesterday so we wandered into a market in Jungmun city. Pictured below are some of the things we found at the market. Use the link below to see all my pictures in Picasa.
Link to Photo Album Goodbye Seoul, Hello Jeju

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Goodbye Seoul, Hello Jeju

Brandon and Wonny, our nephew and niece, picked us up from the Bukchon Guest House for brunch on the south side of the Hangang River near the area of Seoul where Wonny once lived, then we were off to Jeju Island on an early afternoon flight. Brandon and Wonny, thanks a bunch for brunch and for driving us to the Gimpo Intl Airport. Now is a good time to mention that one of the reasons we are traveling in this region is to attend their long belated formal wedding, which will occur in Seoul several days after our return from Jeju. While on the island, we'll be traveling to sights with Jejueco Tours which Kay found through the Internet. I've posted some pictures on Picasa and will post more from Jeju in a few days. Use the link below to go to my photo album.
Link to Photo Album Goodbye Seoul, Hello Jeju

Friday, October 19, 2012

Exploring Seoul

The timing of our departure for Jeju Island, off the southern shores of South Korea, couldn't be better as Kay has had enough of our small traditional style room at the Bukchon Quest House. Hopefully this means we're back into some western conveniences such as tables and chairs. After an initial afternoon getting acquainted with Seoul, our comfort level was back and we explored as much as we could over the next 3 days, visiting the sights and wandering the streets well into the night. Using the subway worked out great after we got use to their conventions for signage which differ from Tokyo. I was actually feeling fairly good about ourselves at getting around our area and seeing Seoul until today. This afternoon, we visited Seoul Tower for an aerial view and saw how big this city truly is. Nothing compares with seeing things with your own eyes! The reality is that we've only seen a small, and I mean very small faction of this city so far. Even if you lived here, you may not see all of Seoul useless you worked at it. I hope you enjoy the Pics. Use the link below to go to all of the pictures in Picasa.
Link to Picasa Photos Waking Up in Seoul

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Waking Up in Seoul

Our departure out of Tokyo was a late one so it was well after sunset when we landed at Incheon Airport. The taxi ride into Seoul, at night, was a somewhat surreal experience. Nothing was familiar and I was disoriented to say the least. Once in the city, there were numerous successions of right and left turns through brightly lite crowded streets and dark quiet ones. It all left my head spinning and me wondering if the driver was taking us for a ride. We finally arrived at our place on a narrow quiet street where a not so friendly host ushered us through an old courtyard to a small room barely twice the size of a small tool shed. That was our place for the next four nights. What have we gotten ourselves into? I'm again uncomfortable with the uncomfortable. Nothing more to do then but sleep. Hopefully things will look better in daylight. Use the link below to go to my pictures in Picasa as we explore Seoul.
Link to Photo Album Waking Up in Seoul

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sayonara Tokyo

It has been great here in Tokyo and we feel very comfortable out and about even though language is a barrier toward getting to know any of the locals. Today is our last full day so we'll check out another place or so, perhaps the Shinjuku area, but focus on getting things ready for departure. Here's some facts about Tokyo according to me.

     Live music is often sung in English even though many do not speak English
     Tokyo is very clean including their subways and public toilets
     Finding public toilets is not an issue and there's no charge
     Don't be surprised to see a cleaning lady in the restroom while you are using it
     Taxi drivers wear suit and ties
     Drive and walk to left like Brits
     You don't hear cars honking in the busy streets
     Many young people appear very style conscious
     People are very orderly, no line cutting or loud talking
     There is no talking on phones in subways
     Very little graffiti anywhere
     Don't see many homeless people
     Bikes are often ridden on the sidewalks so look before you turn
     People act and appear very respectful in public
     Don't see intimate contact between couples in public
     Streets appear to be paved with a material that cuts down tire noise
     Businesses offer very good service with a smile
     Construction site are screened off so people don't see the mess
     Surgical masks are a very common sight
     Use of mobile devices is a common sight everywhere
     Vending machines selling drinks are everywhere throughout the city
     Public trash containers are difficult to find
     No hand towels in restrooms
     Recycling is done everywhere

Again, our smart phones have proved to be invaluable tools in our travels. There are many App's that can perform language translations; either by typing the text, speaking through the microphone, or using the phone camera to read text. They are far from perfect, difficult to use at times, and usually require a data service; but they've come a long ways. Language translators will only get better in the future which will truly open the world for travelers. I can't wait! I've added more pictures to my Picasa Album and will add a few more in the near future. Use the link below.
Link to Photo Album Bikeless in Tokyo

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bikeless in Tokyo

Kay and I are in Tokyo and we've been on the go since landing here just over 4 days ago after nearly 24 hours of travel time. And no, I did not bring a bike. We're slowly getting accustomed to the Japanese way and more comfortable with our uncomfortableness since this country is foreign to us. The Japanese have been very patient with our sign language and gestures so we are managing well enough. The few words I learned from Jay during our 2008 bike trip in Northern Japan, have been helpful in getting us started. I just have to remember that they drive and walk on the left like the Brits and not to be surprised when ever I encounter a cleaning lady in the men's restroom. As for eating, it's helpful to look for places with pictures on their menu. Kay is adapting very well, although she's already tired of noodles. We've seen more than a few of Tokyo's top sights so it's time to slow down and relax a little more. Click on the picture below to go to my photos in Picasa.