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Reisverslag You didn’t make a reservation?
21 augustus 2014
You didn’t make a reservation?
Seoul was nice for a few days, but to make sure I wouldn’t spend too much time there I hopped on a bus and headed east. The lonely planet had described Sokcho as a nice place for a visit so I decided to check that out.
The bus was very comfortable and modern and the journey proved to be quite short. In Sokcho I went to my first option for accommodation but was turned down however the second one was willing to have me as a guest, albeit that they were surprised I hadn’t booked ahead. It was a beach town but unfortunately that day it wasn’t great beach weather. Did end up at the beach though and met some friendly Canadians who invited me for a drink. They were teachers in Seoul and it was interesting to compare notes on teaching and learning some about the life in Korea. Back in the hostel I met my roommates and finally got to drink some Soju with some bona fide Koreans.
The next day was the start of an unpleasant part of my trip. After breakfast I casually walked over to the reception to notify them that I’d stay another night, when I got informed that there was no bed available for me. The friendly owner called all the guesthouses he knew but none of them had anything, the only thing he could offer was a motel at almost triple the rate I was paying here (which wasn’t cheap to begin with). I politely declined and weighed my options, not sure what to do so I just surfed the internet some when the owner came back and offered me the staff room to stay in. He had earned the Korean people some serious brownie points here.
This freed me up to go visit a nearby national park since the weather was pretty bleak for a day at the beach. Seoraksan National park wasn’t that impressive but it still made for a very nice day, especially since I was there with some French people who I had just met this morning.
The accommodation quest continued later that day, I still had to find a bed for my next night and preferably in a new town. Doing this in the height of peak season was a true mission impossible though. Scouring the internet for beds (something I intensely dislike) I had to come to the sad conclusion that they were right, I should’ve booked ahead. From where I was and where I eventually wanted to end up in the south there wasn’t a single bed available in any of the places I had wanted to stop. Seriously bummed out about this but with no other option I made my way down to Busan and was looking forward to some beach time there.
Busan is a massive city (5 million people) and had chosen to locate myself at Korea’s most famous beach, Haeundae beach. I was warned that it looked like Daytona beach but I thought that would be just okay, nothing wrong with a bit of spring break vibe on your vacation.
Haeundae was bright, loud and all about consuming but I loved it. Again the weather wasn’t working with me but I had a pretty good time there anyway. Met some cool people, saw some interesting parts of the city and had a great hike along some ancient fortress wall.
There was some idle hope of visiting some other places on my way back up north to Seoul but the accommodation was still a nightmare, so I went straight to Seoul from Busan.
The DMZ tour was something I had purposely left for the end of my trip because of the price tag. After haven spoken to a friend who highly recommended me the more expensive full day tour I was fully convinced that it be worth the extra WON (the Korean currency) but I had to book in advance which would’ve been fine if it wasn’t for the fact that the last full day I had in Korea was a national holiday, thus robbing me of the chance to make that trip. It was possible to do the half day tour which I did and was also interesting but I had really wanted to see more.
My last day was now spend by going to Nami island because I was also recommended to go there and to not go would possibly be an insult…
It turned out to be a great thing, the trip was longer than expected but very much so worth it. Leaving Seoul behind me and seeing the countryside from the train was fantastic and made me feel sorry for not seeing more of it. The train passed through mountain and along meandering rivers where everywhere you could see Koreans enjoying their beautiful country. Nami island is an idyllic island full of trees that form an ideal setting for a day of strolling around or just relaxing in the shade of one of the many trees available.
Leaving Korea, I was sort of sad that I hadn’t seen nearly as much as I had set out to see, but travelling is all about adapting so that’s what I had to do. I tried to enjoy my time as much as possible and look at the positive. It’s not the first time I found myself in a position where I had to deal with a severe lack of accommodation but it’s the first time I just couldn’t get around it. So if you’re ever going to South Korea in July or August don’t make the same mistake I made, but either book ahead or better go before or after these months.
(this is a first draft, couldn't be bothered to spell check and memory is already getting hazy so quickly had to jot something down before forgetting even more)