Destinations Korea Travel Journal

TRAVEL JOURNAL #9 | Tropical beaches, emotional reunions and a funny man in Korea

travel journal korea

After 4 months of travelling we finally go to the beach, exciting! We say bye bye to Japan and hello to Korea. From Saga we fly to Seoul, and after a transfer of 5 hours and changing airports we take the airplane to Jeju: the Hawaii of Asia. A tropical island that ends up being not so tropical…

Jeju Island

Jeju is a beautiful volcano island, which has stunning nature and white beaches with clear blue water. But we are unlucky with the weather; there’s lots of rain. So when there is a day without rain we grab our chance! By our favourite mode of transport, the motorbike, we explore the Southern and Western part of the island. And we love it! Naturally, we drag our brand new floaty with us for a swim in the water. The sky is incredibly cloudy though, so not one moment we think about using sun protection. That turns out to be a bad – almost fatal – idea.

The way back to our guesthouse is a big adventure. We drive on the road along the foot of the Hallasan Mountain, a dormant volcano. All of a sudden the weather gods had enough and decided it was time for dark clouds, cold winds and – yes – rain. From hot weather we suddenly end up in very cold foggy weather. We did not expect this at all. So there we are, in our shorts and t-shirts on a road barely visible. And the worst thing: we are almost out of gas. Too afraid to stop to take some pictures or film we continue driving and decide to take the first road that is in the direction of the sea. Luckily that’s a good decision! As unexpected as we ended up in this crazy weather, we leave it behind.

travel journal koreaThen it’s time for a special night: it’ll be my birthday at midnight! Maartje needs to get some ‘secret’ things from the supermarket and we end up with 12 hugeee muffins for the two of us. At exactly 00:00 we Facetime my mom, brother and sister. My mom and I share the same birthday, so there’s always double – or wait, triple – the fun! Later we also see the rest of my family, they’re having a birthday dinner for my mom and my aunt (yes my mom is a twin so we share our birthday with the three of us). The next day we just enjoy our time together and relax with watching movies and series.

Seoul

After Jeju we fly back to Seoul. Finally we are going to meet Melody, Maartje’s friend whom she met while studying abroad in the States. Visiting Korea was never high on our list but visiting Melody might be the highest on there. And are we lucky, we find out we love it! We stay for two weeks in the capital city, sleep at 5 different (couchsurfing) places and eat tons of meat during Korean BBQ.

During the first week we explore most parts of the city on our own. We like wandering around a city lots. Seoul has so many cute and hipster coffee shops: a paradise for Maartje. The only downside it that it’s so humid and hot all the time: we are sweaty all the time (gross right?). Even after a nap in the park we wake up in a puddle of sweat. Eew.

travel journal koreaOur first tradionational Korean BBQ we enjoy together with Melody. And Korean BBQ includes drinking beer with a shot of Soju! Unfortunately Melody is a bit busy during our first week in Seoul, but the second week she has more time for us!

Our second Couchsurfing host, Koko, likes to show us around as well. He takes us places in the city we haven’t seen yet, together we go to the cinema (Spiderman!) and enjoy lots of food – we even fry marshmallows at his place! And Maartje knows another girl who lives in Seoul, Gahyun! She is so friendly to let us stay in one room of her mom’s Airbnb, in our favourite neighbourhood Hongdae. It is a dynamic neighbourhood with all kinds of street performances.

travel journal koreaAnd not only do we meet Melody and Gahyun, we also meet Michèle! After Japan he also flew to Korea, so of course we have to see him again. Finding a Couchsurfing place for the three of us is a bit hard; we are only lucky for two nights. One other night we sleep in the foreigner area of Seoul: Itaewon. Apparently we didn’t book a normal hotel but a night at a traditional Korean Spa! So after a fun night out with Melody, Michele and a friend of Michele we end up in the Spa. We never went to the spa in the middle of the night before.

But before sleeping in a spa, we go for a night out! We specifically tell Melody we can’t go to something fancy, but there we are, in the middle of this fancy club with our hiking shoes, dancing and accidentally standing on the tiny toes of little Korean girls. After a lot of fun, many drinks and a photo shoot in a photo booth we bring Melody to her taxi and we go to the spa. Melody tells us the next morning the taxi driver asked her how she could have white friends haha.

travel journal koreaThe last day of our stay in Seoul we go to the Bukhansan National Park with Melody and Michèle. And luckily we did it: it was really pretty! The four-hour climb up was totally worth it. After many fun days together we say goodbye to Michèle and Melody, but we know we will meet them somewhere in Asia again.

From Seoul we fly to Malaysia. Our first country in Southeast Asia this world trip! And there we will meet up with my mom and brother… to be continued!

travel journal korea

Want to read and see more of Korea? Check out our Korea Gallery and our tips for Seoul!

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