Tuesday, October 24, 2017

China & South Korea Trip Summary

What a great trip!  It started off with an overnight in Helsinki before meeting up at the airport for our flight to China.  For the past few years, Finnair has positioned itself as the gateway between Europe and Asia.  The flight to Beijing was only 7,5 hours.  It was almost too short because by the time I fell asleep it wasn't too long before we landed.  Not a complaint mind you, just an observation.

Plus, I really enjoy flying on Finnair.  Their planes are built for tall Scandinavians so even the economy seats are comfortable.  Plus they are apart of the Oneworld alliance so I get British Airways points.

For an American citizen a Chinese tourist visa is $140.  But if you are flying to/from another country then you can stay in Beijing for up to 72 hours visa-free.  Beijing is huge!

My favourite parts were visiting Tiananmen Square and finally getting to the Great Wall of China.  We probably shouldn't have gone on National Day which made it super crowded but live and learn.  Another day or two in Beijing would have been perfect.

Then it was on to South Korea.  Our 3 AM flight on Korean Airlines to Busan took under 2,5 hours.

I didn't really know what to expect of Busan but it was well worth a visit.  There was plenty to see and very easy to get around.  Highly recommended.

Then it was on to Jeju Island which is pretty much the Korean honeymoon destination.  Jeju City was fine but the best part was the black pig bbq.

Then it was on to Seoul.  I kind of thought that I would like Seoul.  No, I loved it!!

I thought NYC was an around-the-clock city but really it's Seoul.  There is always something going on.  For example, the shopping malls open at 9 or 10 AM but they don't close until 4 AM!  It's not like the stores are just open but they are open and packed.

The DMZ tour was definitely worth it but I'm still disappointed that we weren't able to visit Panmunjom due to the current tensions between North Korea and the USA.  We saw the rhetoric on the morning news everyday but that was it.  We never felt any tension the entire time we were in Korea.

One thing that stood out was that in every subway station there are gas masks at the ready in case tensions break out.  

The food was a definite highlight of the trip.  I'm already missing my daily dose of kimchi.

I was glad that I took the time to learn a little Korean.  While you can certainly get by without knowing any Korean most people really appreciated the fact that I was able to say a few words.

What a phenomenal time we had and neither of us were ready to leave but it was time to get back to work.  It only there was unlimited holiday time because we could have spent another couple of weeks in Seoul. 

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