Posts Tagged ‘korea’

Planning in Circles

Once I decided against visiting Central Asia this year  (a decision sadly reinforced by the recent violence in southern Kyrgyzstan), the planning for my upcoming round the world trip seemed to get off to a good start. I put together a reasonable outline, booked my award plane tickets, and reserved hotels in New York (the Jane, again) and Vancouver (the YWCA). I even put together detailed itineraries for Japan and South Korea.

But then I stalled. True, I took care of some business – getting my house painted, for instance. And I planned a long weekend in Washington (June) and a long week in Canada (July). But six and a half months requires a fair amount of planning, at least on my end of the planning-winging it continuum.  Rather than two steps forward and one step back it felt like I was going in circles. Or, worse, that I had embarked on a downward spiral.

Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City, by Bernard Gagnon, Creative Commons license

Trying to arrange hotels in Japan, I got especially frustrated. Too many web sites with no English. A chain with an English-language web site that wouldn’t let me book more than three months ahead, and then confirmed my reservation with the right name and phone number, but an address in a different town altogether. A consolidator web site that persistently rejected my credit cards. And prices that had noticeably risen over the last few years.

One shining exception involved the only visa I needed ahead of time. I Fed Ex’ed the lengthy (and expensive) application for my 10 year Indian visa to Travisa in Washington on a Monday, and come Friday my passport was back with me, complete with visa. And then I started making progress with Japan, even arranging a stay at one of the temples on Mt. Koya.

Dodam Sambong, Danyang by Steve46814, Creative Commons license

Time to move on to Korea. I already had that itinerary down, right? Well, no. Between the brochures the well-organized Korean Tourist Office mailed to me, a new, updated Lonely Planet, and some time at the bookstore with Moon and Rough Guide, I wound up with a new plan:

Oct 10 – 11: Seoul.

Oct 12 – 13: Bus to Danyang, afternoon visit to Guinsa temple, next day in Sobaeksan National Park.

Oct 14 – 16: Bus(es) to Gyeongju. Possible visits to Hahoe Folk Village in Andong and/or the Herbal Medicine Market in Daegu on the way. Gyeongju seems to be the rare Korean town to have escaped major desctruction of its historic sites.

Oct 17-18: Bus to Jeonju. I have hopes of staying in a hanok, a traditional Korean house. No English language web sites, though, I’ll have to try by phone.

Oct 19 – 20: Back to Seoul, with a possible stop at Suwon (historic fortress) or Icheon (pottery).

Now I’m trying to sort out transport in Taiwan, and am missing the excellent English-language transport web sites I used for Japan and Korea.

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