Back from the holidays and all ready to tell you why you really should go and visit South Korea:
1. It is a beautiful country. Lots of fantastic nature parks, in which you can stumble upon rock carved budha's, little monasteries or 'just' a big grey squirl or black and white woodpecker.
2. The Korean people are really proud of their country and go out of their way to help you and give you a great impression of Korea. Total strangers helped us found a place to stay (which took up to 1,5 hours at one point), took us to nice restaurants (and wanted to pay) and gave us guided tours of the city. Out of niceness, not for money or anything else. Can you believe that? It is true!
3. Seoul is like New York, only lots cheaper: vibrant, exciting and with lots of good shops, hip bars and good food. Even I, a notorious non-shopper, found an interesting store: a mega mega mega bookstore, which also had quite an English collection.
4. Public transport is great, maybe not as excellent as in Singapore, but still very good. In Seoul the trainstations are also mentioned in English, which is nice, because learning the Hangeul script properly takes a little longer than a week. There is a train station close to almost every place of interest, ranging from the Olympic stadium to the grand royal palace. If you take a wrong exit though, as we did a few times, it might still take you half an hour to get to the actual sight. :-)
5. There are, thanks to the Olympics, clean public toilets everywhere, for free. In the Netherlands you have to pay for every toilet, if there is any at all, and then they are mostly dirty. And don't ask if you can use the toilet from a shop or pub, because they will assertively say 'no'.
6. Did I mention the food? We really loved the food. Some people can't get charmed by the kimchi (peppered cabbage), but that is only a side dish and one of many at that. Mostly you end up with at least 4 different dishes on your table, to accompany your sticky rice or noodles and you can spice up the food to your liking with peppers, garlic and other interesting stuff. Lots of veggies and the right type of fat too. You won't get fat in Korea, as long as you don't go to Maccas.
7. Koreans are internet crazy: almost every hotelroom gives you free internet. In your room.
8. They are also mad about tv, judging on the size of the flat tv screens in the hotelrooms: mostly they are about the same size as the double bed. Compared to our 15 inch screen at home, that was shocking!
9. All hotels, restaurants, etc, serve clean drinking water, so no worries about getting travelers diarrhoea. Drink to your hearts content.
10. Korea boasts amazing teashops, with serve totally different teas from anywhere else. If there is no-one on the streets around 4 p.m., have a look in a teashop. That is where everybody relaxes with a big cup of spicy or relaxing tea, accompanied by little rice cakes. The cinnamon and jujube tea were especially tasty, but also the pear tea was yum.
11. The traditional Korean building style is still used in new buildings and it is very charming. The big skyscraper apartment building are not my cup of tea, but considering there are over 10 million people living in Seoul, they need them. If you go out into the country though, you'll see the traditional style everywhere.
12. Koreas has a lot of World Heritage sites to visit and enjoy. Bulguksa temple in Gyong-ju is recommended (4 hours by train south of Seoul).
13. If you would like, you can get the most peculiar things on markets to spice up your lovelife, get your brains to work properly or cure/prevent about any disease. We did not personally try the grounded snakes, but they looked impressive.
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