One-Week “Staycation”: My Best Vacation in Korea
I have five weeks left in Korea and instead of traveling out of the country for my summer vacation I decided to partake in my first-ever “staycation.” I have heard of people doing this before but I was always from the school of thought that said, Why vacation where I live when I can vacation somewhere new? My staycation now ranks in my top five best vacations.
There were five of us traveling together–two Americans visiting, two fellow English teacher friends and me. After being in Korea for a year, you can hit spells of boredom and you can fall into a routine. Prior to the vacation I was wondering whether it would be fun, and if we’d be good traveling buddies. I had no idea if my friends, Faye and Sarah and I would travel well together, and I didn’t know the two American guys visiting, who were friends of Faye’s. But, it all worked out perfectly–we had good chemistry together.
The minute we landed, it felt like we were in a different place entirely. No one stared at me. No one thought we women were wearing too little, and it was perfect.
We started off by taking in the sights of our small town. We happen to live near a Casino so we did a little gambling, followed by a firework show and ending the day at a K-Pop concert. The casino ropes off a foreign section so we had an area all to ourselves to laugh and be loud, and it was so much fun. The firework show at the casino was completely free as was the K-Pop concert.
We decided to spend three days on the island of Jeju and then four days in Seoul. I am from an island so I am always skeptical of other islands–how will they compare? Will the beaches be clear? Will it feel like an island? Thankfully Jeju did not disappoint. The minute we landed, it felt like we were in a different place entirely. No one stared at me. No one thought we women were wearing too little, and it was perfect.
We didn’t really do much in the terms of sightseeing. We didn’t go to Hallasan. We just went to Jungmun Beach and Hyeopjai Beach. We also checked out Cheonjiyeon waterfall on the southeast side of the island. Jungmun beach was nice–it sits along a mountain and has great views, and it’s not too crowded, but the water isn’t crystal clear.
Hyeopjai was located an hour from where we were staying, and I somehow convinced the group that it would be worth it to go. We took the local city bus and arrived at a beach that was very crowded, but also had some of the most amazing water. It was crystal clear with a low tide so you could walk for maybe 100 meters before it reached your waist. The only downside of the beaches in Jeju is that they rope it off and the lifeguards are very specific about where you can swim.
This time I experienced it like a tourist–we went to a trick eye museum, ice skated, rode bikes along the Han River and attempted to see Namsan Tower.
We swam and played cards and drank beer every day in Jeju. At night we ate dinner and drank and played cards. Everyday was filled with laughter. I found new appreciation for South Korea–maybe because I was looking at it from a tourist’s perspective.
Whenever I go to Seoul, it’s never to participate in tourist activities. I always have such limited time, so I usually go to shop, drink and eat foreign food. This time I experienced it like a tourist–we went to a trick eye museum, ice skated, rode bikes along the Han River and attempted to see Namsan Tower. These were all activities that were inexpensive. If anyone is in Seoul I definitely recommend renting bikes along the Han River. We did it close to sunset and it was awesome.
We drank beers on the grass while we watched live music. The cost was about $3000 won for an hour. Also be sure to check out a trick eye museum. When we decided we wanted to go check one out, one of the guys was skeptical and thought it would be boring, but by the end of it, he had the most pictures and was using props. With the right group of people, it can be loads of fun.
All in all it does not matter where you live–try to do a staycation. You might learn something about your town, city, or country that you never knew before. I have a newfound appreciation for Korea and my small town of Gohan. It was a great start to the end of my journey here in Korea.