Tuesday , May 22, 2018

When in Seoul

TRAVELING to Korea soon? Here are some tips that will surely come in handy as soon as you set foot in Seoul, the Asian country’s capital.

The land of K-pop and oppa is among the top destinations that Filipinos would love to visit one day. I say this because I often hear colleagues, friends, and even family members who have been talking about how exciting it could be to roam around the metro.

Last November, I had the chance to stay in Seoul and was able to visit some other places in Korea for a week. It was just a short trip, but, I already enjoyed the country’s sceneries, romantic atmosphere, culture, technological advancement, cuisine, and kindness of our Korean hosts. Thanks to the University of Southeastern Philippines (Usep), particularly the Mindanao Center for Policy Studies (MCPS) led by Prof. Gladys Florangel Ortiz, Global Distance Learning Network (GDLN) Blended Learning Program, and Korea Development Institute School of Public Policy and Management!

For a more convenient stay in Seoul, I and my fellow scholars have listed down some practical tips, to wit:

Download a language translator app. Indonesian classmate Syukri downloaded Google Translate to communicate with the locales.

When in Korea, even if you are in Seoul, it is seldom that you see someone on the streets a Korean who can communicate well in English. I personally experienced this when I arrived and asked someone for directions going to our hotel. Sadly, we never understood each other. So, it is best that you have internet connection to check the Google map or Google Translate to communicate with them.

Learn basic Korean. If you still have time to learn their local language, do so. It can be helpful when trying to connect with the locales for basic information.

Study the map. Before getting giddy to reach your next stop, make sure that you have studied the map carefully. And yes, always bring it with you.

Have addresses written in Korean characters. Going back to the hotel after a day’s getaway can be extra challenging in Seoul. I and my colleague, Ate Au, managed to get a cab. However, the taxi driver had a hard time understanding us when we gave our hotel’s name and location. It was a good thing, though, that we had in our bag the hotel key envelope where its details in Korean characters were written. Viola! The driver safely brought us to the hotel with no difficulty at all.

Download a navigation app. Waze can be your bestfriend when in Seoul. It makes destinations easier to reach because of the precise directions it gives.

Know your budget. When traveling, another Indonesian classmate, Raica, shared that it is very important to know your budget. It is best to plan out how much you can splurge for a particular activity.

Being a highly-urbanized metro, it is definitely expensive in Seoul. Everything seems pricey, from the food to public transportation. In short, make sure that your budget will last until it is time to go home.

Research for tourist attractions. Before going to Seoul, research first about the possible places you can visit. Know as well how to get there. You can also check these tourist attractions’ websites and find out the best deals or tour packages you can avail of to save on cost and travel time.

Take pictures! Take as many pictures as you can wherever your feet lead you. With the amount of snaps you're taking, you can download them each time you go back to the hotel to have enough memory space on your phone or camera for the next day’s photoshoot. Photos are your greatest memorabilia from this trip!

Let me add, one more thing: enjoy each place you visit! Satisfy your palates with local food, check out products unique to them, and get lost once in a while. Actually, we discovered a number of exciting stuff in Seoul because we lost our way home.

In my succeeding columns, I will share with you two of Seoul’s must-visit destinations. Watch out!



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