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These gypsy feeling, wandering days…

After a fourteen and a half hour flight and a three hour layover, we finally arrived at our long awaited destination of South Korea – specifically, Seoul. After going through immigration, locating our luggage, exchanging Korean wan for our bus tickets to Chuncheon (supposedly a very popular vacation/holiday spot for Koreans in particular), we finally had a brief moment to spare before boarding the waiting bus that would whisk us off to this foreign location. As it turned out, our recruiter so kindly offered us her “remote office”, which turned out to be quite remote indeed, consisting of indoor tents, a mini fridge, little to no Internet connection, and a shower head next to the toilet with no hot water. It was certainly a small adjustment to what I would typically be used to on a day to day basis in Canada, but I considered this week to be similar to that of an “indoor camping experience” – quite a new experience to me, nonetheless! Although the land of Chuncheon is actually a city with many scenic hiking trails, mountains, one or two temples for tourists, and a famous statue, there are areas (including the area where we were located, that was surrounded by beautiful wilderness and a sense of calm, astray from the modernity of the city. For those of you who are interested in a smaller city atmoshere with a lot of rural surroundings, Chuncheon might be the place for you. This is an especially attractive location for those who enjoy outdoor activities. There are also buses and taxis (which are incredibly cheap – for example, to travel in a taxi for approximately thirty minutes, you can expect to pay a fare of 7,000 won, which is basically $7.00!), which can transport you to various destinations within the city. Note: be prepared to use your Korean language handbook, as the English speaking levels of the locals here is quite limited. I will also suggest that those of you who are traveling to the city in the month of July should also not be without your umbrella, as this is the height of the monsoon season (it lasts for about a week in early to mid July), which means you can expect copious amounts of rain from sunrise to sunset, and beyond.

I will not bore you with the details of my first week in South Korea (or perhaps I will), but I will say that I was genuinely sad to leave at the end of the week. My first week in Korea exceeded my expectations (yes, even despite the hardwood floor as a makeshift bed and cold showers). We visited the shopping district in Myeong-dong (a popular and fun afternoon for young people especially), did some browsing of various markets (fruit/vegetable/local food), tried “dok ghakbi” (Chuncheon’s native food, consisting of a stone cooking surface on the table which the waitress uses in front of you, combining cabbage and chicken in a spicy red sauce). Let’s not forget the accompaniment of Korea’s infamous “onion water” as a refreshing beverage. The week spent in Chuncheon (pronounced “Chune chun”), also consisted of visiting a much needed Korean spa (side note: a “spa” in Korea is often confused here as being a “bath house”, a communal bath tub so to speak, surrounded with naked bathers). Therefore, my advice to you is this: if you are looking to visit a spa in Korea, specify that you are looking for a facial/shoulder/foot treatment (unless of course you are looking to experience a Korean bath house – in which casse, expect to bare all). Literally. A lot of our time consisted of exploring the city of course, experiencing traditional Korean food, which included many smaller dishes brought to the table at intervals: fish, chicken, various beef dishes, vegetable dishes, many tentacles, squid, “kimchi” (a delicious and spicy fomented Korean vegetable), and octopus soup to name a few. I would definitely recommend trying tradtional and authentic Korean cuisine at least once.

After departing from Chuncheon, we were on our way to Seoul – approximately a one and a half our car ride or a three hour bus ride. The week would meet us with teaching orientation and a sense of urbanity.

The City of Chuncheon, South Korea

So long for now…

The BEST holidays

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