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Woodsey
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« on: March 25, 2019, 09:07:13 PM »

Anyone been?

Have 3 full days, mostly interested in what is the best area to stay to get around the main sights in that time and preferably not too expensive. I suppose I like seeing the older traditional areas, but that’s not a deal breaker as long as I can travel to them easily.

Thanks in advance  Smiley
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bergeroo
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« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2019, 10:06:14 AM »

I was there six years ago, Facebook just reminded me this week.

The trip to the DMZ was the most memorable thing that I did. You book it with the American military - you will have to do it in advance and are kind of brainwashed by them on the way - but going to the border is super interesting and you get guarded by ninja South Korean soldiers and spied on by North Korean soldiers with large binoculars. Also tried North Korean beer which was pretty disgusting!

The area I stayed in Gwanghui-dong was pretty interesting. I just got some random airbnb there without knowing anything about the city or different areas or anything - It is basically little Russia. Loads of Russian, Kazakh, Uzbeki businesses including lots of food options and karaoke joints. It also bizarrely seemed to be the hub of the city for buying tennis and badminton gear. But wherever you stay, the metro is very easy when you work it out and taxis were incredibly cheap.

As for the city. There are a few palaces with long names that I can't remember, where they have a bunch of people in traditional garb doing dancing and parades etc.

Going to see an e-sports show is really fun if you can find one.

Itaewon is the ex-pat area and good for a night out.

Going to one of the Night Markets is pretty cool too. Loads of people around, food stores and you can buy random crap.

One of the most odd things is different parts of the city specialise in selling different items. So you will go to one area and it will be two blocks of stores selling vacuum cleaners - about 20-30 different shops all next to each other. Then you keep walking and it is two/three blocks of shops selling light fixtures. There must be some list somewhere that you look up what you want to buy and it tells you where all the shops are for that thing.

Gangnam (from the song) is a pretty boring businessey area with designer stores that I only went to once. Probably wouldn't recommend staying there even though it is one of the most famous areas because of the song.

There are two casinos where you can play cash, one at Walker Hill in a fancy hotel, the other in a shopping mall.

I was there for two weeks and honestly the city didn't grab me the way that Tokyo did (much more affordable though!) but I don't think I really got below the surface. Not to say I thought it was a bad place or anything. The food was top notch. Loved the Korean BBQ but I got tired of kimchi every day eventually! Would love to hear what you think of it as hopefully I will go back in the future.

Adding - Hongdae is a fun neighbourhood, I guess I would try to stay near there next time. Near the universities. Lots of food options and people around, bars and stuff to do in the day and evening.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2019, 10:16:41 AM by bergeroo » Logged
nirvana
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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2019, 10:58:15 AM »

I was there six years ago, Facebook just reminded me this week.

The trip to the DMZ was the most memorable thing that I did. You book it with the American military - you will have to do it in advance and are kind of brainwashed by them on the way - but going to the border is super interesting and you get guarded by ninja South Korean soldiers and spied on by North Korean soldiers with large binoculars. Also tried North Korean beer which was pretty disgusting!

The area I stayed in Gwanghui-dong was pretty interesting. I just got some random airbnb there without knowing anything about the city or different areas or anything - It is basically little Russia. Loads of Russian, Kazakh, Uzbeki businesses including lots of food options and karaoke joints. It also bizarrely seemed to be the hub of the city for buying tennis and badminton gear. But wherever you stay, the metro is very easy when you work it out and taxis were incredibly cheap.

As for the city. There are a few palaces with long names that I can't remember, where they have a bunch of people in traditional garb doing dancing and parades etc.

Going to see an e-sports show is really fun if you can find one.

Itaewon is the ex-pat area and good for a night out.

Going to one of the Night Markets is pretty cool too. Loads of people around, food stores and you can buy random crap.

One of the most odd things is different parts of the city specialise in selling different items. So you will go to one area and it will be two blocks of stores selling vacuum cleaners - about 20-30 different shops all next to each other. Then you keep walking and it is two/three blocks of shops selling light fixtures. There must be some list somewhere that you look up what you want to buy and it tells you where all the shops are for that thing.

Gangnam (from the song) is a pretty boring businessey area with designer stores that I only went to once. Probably wouldn't recommend staying there even though it is one of the most famous areas because of the song.

There are two casinos where you can play cash, one at Walker Hill in a fancy hotel, the other in a shopping mall.

I was there for two weeks and honestly the city didn't grab me the way that Tokyo did (much more affordable though!) but I don't think I really got below the surface. Not to say I thought it was a bad place or anything. The food was top notch. Loved the Korean BBQ but I got tired of kimchi every day eventually! Would love to hear what you think of it as hopefully I will go back in the future.

Adding - Hongdae is a fun neighbourhood, I guess I would try to stay near there next time. Near the universities. Lots of food options and people around, bars and stuff to do in the day and evening.

Great you spent time doing that.. V interesting too
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Woodsey
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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2019, 12:33:12 PM »

Cheers for all that mate. Had forgotten about the DMZ stuff will deffo do that.

I actually wasn’t that arsed about going, but where I’m gonna be for the rugby later in the year it’s actually going to be easier for me to get to Seoul by plane than other areas I would be potentially interested in Japan, so I thought why not......
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bergeroo
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2019, 09:25:26 PM »

Cheers for all that mate. Had forgotten about the DMZ stuff will deffo do that.

I actually wasn’t that arsed about going, but where I’m gonna be for the rugby later in the year it’s actually going to be easier for me to get to Seoul by plane than other areas I would be potentially interested in Japan, so I thought why not......

Seems like a great choice, I am sure you will enjoy it a lot.

Another interesting thing - A lot more people in Seoul spoke English than in Tokyo from my experience - which is I guess it is because it is more allied/tied closely with the US and has more Western/American cultural influences? Mostly positive experiences  from the locals apart from one taxi driver who picked me up and as we started driving off and I began to speak English he screeched to a halt and started shouting to me to get out! I was also there for St Paddies where I tagged a long with a bunch of American/British English teachers in Itaewon.

For The DMZ - I guess there are a few tours that market themselves as this but the one you want is ran by the American Military and you start at the army base in Seoul and you need to give them your passport to be checked out in advance and stuff. I would recommend booking at least a few weeks in advance if you know your dates for sure. On my tour we also went to one of the discovered tunnels, saw the competing border villages with their giant flagpoles, went to an abandoned train station right on the border. And then to the DMZ itself, the one you see on the TV with the huts where they have the peace talks.

As relations seemed to have thawed somewhat since, you might get something different now. The American Military peddled a narrative the whole time that a united Korea was the end goal that both sides wanted and at some point it would happen and a United Korea basically was peace, which I found a bit much. But anyway, it was highly memorable.

I was also in Tokyo for almost two months, although I think that was 8 years ago now - so if you want to know anything about that city then I might know something too!
« Last Edit: March 26, 2019, 09:29:33 PM by bergeroo » Logged
Woodsey
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2019, 09:42:05 PM »

Cheers deffo noted the DMZ advice, Been to Tokyo before so am pretty happy I know the score with what’s what there. In all honestly I’m going mainly for the rugby, whilst I enjoyed Japan last time I didn’t feel compelled to rush back. The stars have however aligned, my missus really wants to go and I know I’ll have a good time there. It also felt like it would be a nice experience going to a World Cup away from the traditional rugby playing countries, plus I thought not many would travel so I’d have a better chance of getting tickets  Grin
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