6 Months in Korea: We’re Halfway There!

Today marks six months since I bid Toronto farewell and agreed to call Korea home for a year.

I still remember arriving in the wee hours of the morning, being greeted by a driver who had spent hours waiting for me after I got delayed in Tokyo, staring in awe at the bright neon lights that dotted the streets, and then being dropped off at a little love motel in a sketchy part of town with nothing more than a piece of paper that said “Hi, my name is Bob. I will pick you up on Monday.”

What have I gotten myself into?

The past six months have turned out a lot better than I expected; no midnight run for me! So let’s take a look at what I’ve been up to:

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Number of weekend trips: 7

Samcheok to visit one of the largest cave networks in Asia, Daejeon for foot spas and food, Cheonan for Buddha and cakes, Busan for fish markets and beaches, Boryeong for the mud festival, Gwangju for the May 18 Memorial, and Boseong for green tea fields and green tea ice cream.

Number of train rides: 10

I have travelled on the KTX, and I can now say that I prefer the Mugunghwa even if it takes four times longer to reach my destination. I like slow train rides that weave their way through the countryside.

Number of meals I won’t be repeating: 2

Dry squid which is served at bars and happens to be chewier than rubber, and grilled eel – enough said.

Number of times I’ve been locked out of my apartment: 1

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Number of strange murals I’ve come across: 2

This one of a scandalous foreigner shaking her thang at a noraebang (wait, no, not me!), and one of pantless farmers…

Number of festivals attended: 2

The Lotus Lantern Festival and the Boryeong Mud Festival.

Number of times I’ve had fish guts spilled one my feet: 1

At the Jagalchi fish market in Busan – also the place to find the infamous sea penises.

A Collection of Strange Sea Forms

Number of times my students have made completely inappropriate yet hilarious remarks: Lost count…

But here is a sampling of the things they say of a daily basis.

Number of complaints I’ve received from my building: 1

Apparently disposing of furniture without the appropriate tags is not cool. They will put up flyers in the elevator urging you to come clean and threaten to scan CCTV footage to find the culprit.

Number of travel bloggers I’ve met who are based in Korea or passing through: 10+

Ahem, can I just say that Sam was the first travel blogger I met in Korea and now he happens to be my hunky travel partner in crime. I’d say that turned out well!

There you have it – six months down and there are six more to go! I am looking forward to autumn in Seoul, celebrating Halloween with my students, more weekend trips around the country, trying new foods, celebrating the holidays in a foreign land, and enjoying the snow from the comfort of my cozy little apartment. I hope you’ll follow in the rest of the adventures!

Join the Conversation

27 Comments

  1. Congratulations Audrey! The third photo is a confirmation about that strange-looking fish in Korea lol. A friend told me about it and we watched a video from YouTube 😐 Now this confirms that it is widely sold in fish markets there in Korea =)) I wonder how that tastes like lol.

    And since you’re just in Korea, I will convince you again to visit the Philippines soon =)) Cebu Pacific Air and ZestAir are two of the budget airlines that flies to Manila regularly 😀

    1. says: thatbackpacker

      Haha, yes, the rumours are true. Sea penises grow in Korean waters…

      You really are tempting with the Philippines, geez! 😀 Are you based in Manila?

  2. says: Sarah

    Yes to six months, lady!

    And dude, let’s change the ‘number of travel bloggers based in Korea’ to a solid 11 soon okay!?

  3. says: Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    Considering all that you have experienced in the past 6 months, one can only assume the next 6 months will be even more epic! Can’t wait to hear what other (mis)adventure you’ll have!

    1. says: thatbackpacker

      It’s bound to be another exciting six! The quirky things my students say are enough to get me through it, haha. 😀

  4. says: Zhu

    Sounds like you are having a great time! These anecdotes are priceless, and they make living abroad fun and interesting!

    Did you think you were going to “last” a year at first? You seem to say these 6 months went by fast, so I guess it’s a good thing!

  5. Korea does seem to attract a lot of travel bloggers, doesn’t it. I guess it’s because most of us enjoy food and shelter but don’t make enough from blogging to afford both at the same time and Korea is arguably the easiest place to make the most cash. And they allow you to stuff yourself with grilled meat for US$10. Or maybe that was just me.

    1. says: thatbackpacker

      It sure does! The other day we had a pretty big blogger meet-up in the city. It really is a great place to save up some good $$$ before hitting the road. 😀

  6. says: Waegook Tom

    Almost six months here too, Audrey! Well, on this contract at least. That food sounds revolting…DRY SQUID yuck. By the way, what’s this cave network in Samcheok? I’m planning to head over there when my brother comes to visit next month to see Penis Park anyway, but don’t know anything about a cave network? Sounds kinda cool 🙂

    p.s. congrats on not doing a midnight run! HOORAY!

    1. says: thatbackpacker

      Yeah! Isn’t it a good feeling knowing you’ll be done and ready to hit the road in just a few more months?! The cave was called Hwanseongul, and then there’s also Daegeumgul – I only went to the first one. It’s a pretty amusing site, especially with all the neon lighting and rainbow bridge… I would recommend it, but don’t expect to be donning a helmet with a flashlight in hand. That’s what I anticipated; it’s a whole lot tamer than that.

    1. says: thatbackpacker

      It’s easy to get comfortable in a place after a few months. Some weekends I have to remind myself to go find something new too. 🙂 It sounds like the area around Chiang Mai would have a lot to offer!

  7. says: Melissa

    I’m only a newbie blogger but if you’d like to add another one to your list, I’ll be in Seoul for a few days in late September. My first time! I’ve enjoyed reading through your posts on Korea. I’ll be visiting Seoul, Gunsan (visiting a friend who teaches there) and Jeju.

    1. says: thatbackpacker

      Ooo, that’s exciting! First time to Korea? I hope you like palaces because Seoul is full of them! Drop me a line a bit closer to the date. 😀

  8. says: Edna

    Girl, I don’t know what you’re talking about, dry squid is great snacking food. That rubberiness just makes it last longer, the bonus being that you eat less 😉 But in all seriousness, enjoyed the recap and look forward to your adventures in the next six months!

    1. says: thatbackpacker

      Woohoo, Korea! Will it be your first time in the country? Send me a message closer to the date and Nomadic Samuel and I can hopefully show you ’round the town. 😉

  9. says: prasit khotchakhot

    Teachers always have nice ways to tell nice stories. I love to follow your posts.
    Keep om sharing you excellent works.
    It is not only useful for travelers,
    but also for students of the English language.

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