A Travellerspoint blog

Seoul

Great times but more still to come

sunny -4 °C
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Ok so like i said im In Seoul Capital of South Korea such a great town. In the last week and abit i have literally done what im best at and just bummed around may i add iv taken my time to do that. gone here and there and then nowhere.

At the end of my last post i said i was going to the DMZ which i did ended up going with these two yanks that had turned up the day before and had a good laugh. The tour itself was really interesting and informative i found out so much about the divide between the North and South Korea that i would probably never have known about without going on the Tour. The tour kicked off on a bus like so many tours do, then headed to the border. At the border we had a soldier come onto the bus and check all or passports and we were then waved through. *little fact all men after they graduate school and before they turn 30 have to join the army or military police for 2 years and most of them will work the border patrol for those 3 years* When your in the Border or DMZ area you weave your way through road blocks and were taken to one of the 4 discovered Tunnels between North and South Korea, this is out of 20 they believe to have been dug so far. when you arrive at the 3rd tunnel Entrance house I was surprised to find that all around had been developed into a big tourist attraction with gift shop too. At this point you are ushered into a theatre and whath a short film on the DMZ and the Tunnels Once this is finished you are ushered again through a small museum explaining more about the DMZ and taken to the 3rd Tunnel. Now you have to place all your cameras, phones, and other electronics into lockers and are given a hard hat. Now we walked down this long step slope that runs down to the tunnel system taking about 15 minutes. at the bottom you reach the main tunnel which i was told was 2 meters wide and the same high so enough for me and one of the guys Austin(another tall chap) to duck but not struggle to walk through. Well when getting there the start was maybe a little under 2 meters so we werent too fussed but 20 meters into the tunnel it dropped to a alot under a meter in height and me and Austin may awell have crawled because there wasnt much space and had to hunch over like Quasimodo, Alex on the other hand the other american well he was a much shorter guy so the little hobbit had very little trouble. Anyway yeah we headed along the tunnel and kept noticing drilled holes painted yellow, this was planned holes for dynamite to keep building the tunnel. The other thing we noticed was that the tunnel had been painted black or if not painted, blackened in someway this turned out to be a sneaky North Korean move, which involved telling the south they had been coal mining once they had been caught, which was proven an absolute lie as the rock was sampled and found to have 0% coal in the area. Again after this we found out the North had then Accused the South for the tunnel saying they where trying to dig into North Korea, Which is why the dnamite holes were painted yellow, so the south could prove the direction the blasts were towards them not away. Anyway yeah the rest of the tour involved different sights in the DMZ and the observation post that looked straight at North Korea and we stopped from taking photos too close to the edge incase we saw some of the hidden camps.

So enough of that last friday was 'the big club night' in Seoul so the whole hostel plus mr Kim(the owner) and Jin Young (his friend and member of staff) had to oblidge and hit the town going a variety of different clubs and bars all mainly playing English and American music which was strange but had a great night and with mr kim buying lots of drinks it was cheap which gave me a big smile and made my wallet very happy. but with that and not getting back till about 5-6am the next day was a write off not a problem for me as i had given myself plenty of time in this city. so right after that the rest of this week iv just been exploring and eating all kinds of food still havent found dog though! i think i need a few more back streets. Now last night after a skype session with abi i headed to Deaksugung Palace the only on that is open late. I got there at 2010 50minutes before close but wlaking arond in the cold night was so peaceful and just sitting listening to the busy city outside of the palace walls compared to the emptiness and calm in the grounds was so unreal and serene one thing that i was gutted about about was that my camera wasnt up to the task of taking decent photos in the dark but i think i got a couple but just doesnt do the atmosphere justice. After that i headed down the road to the Cheong gye Cheon the center piece of the city a small river that has been developed with lights, waterfalls, bridges, stepping stones and fountains plus an art exhibit of the construction and history of the river. Then today i headed out to one of the palaces in the city Gyeongbokgung palace. Which in from what i read if i understood it correctly was the main royal palace, i think but don't quote me! but walking around the grounds i found it was huge just one walled courtyard inside another inside another with temples, shrines and different royal rooms and stuff everywhere with the big palace in the back surrounded by the mountains and just beautiful.

Then came back to the hostel to find it very full and food being prepared which is good but very hard to get a shower as there are only 2 on different floors. but yeah i will get one eventually so now going to have a korean feast and crash goodnight from me will write again before china.

take care

Posted by Nick.t 07:40 Archived in South Korea Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Japan> Korea

If you read my last post this is what it should have said!!

sunny -4 °C
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Ok Try this again Wow that annoyed me!!

So Yeah like my previous post said i arrived in Tokyo and had a couple of plans to do things but nothing set in stone. Got up late in the day on my first day purely because the capsules are in a constant state of Twilight so when you wake you think its still night and then role over for another couple of hours sleep. Evenutually when i did get up after like 13 hours sleep i headed out to find a post office to send off all my left over snowboard gear and other bits and pieces. Easily enough i found one just around the corner and stuggled with the lady behind the till to work out what i wanted to do until again being rescued by a younger member of staff and she helped sorted out me a box and told me all the paper work i needed to fill out. Evenutally after spending half an hour filling out forms covered in squiggly writing and being told off for trying to post a note with the box i sent off two items a 4kg box or stuff and a letter. Happy with the fact the box only cost me £20 with the only issue being that it probably wont arrive till just before i get back, no i jest but it will take about 2-3months as i selected the cheapest type of delivery. For the rest of that day i just explored the area and checked out what was happening and realised that Tokyo probably has more Vending machines than in does people, Vending a huge variety of things as mutlifarius as the ammount of machines there are from the normal drinks and snacks to ladies underwear(only at night) then also being used in Restaurants instead of waiting staff which certinly made eating out easier by just looking at pictures and pressing the buttons. the all you had to do was give the chief your ticket and they would shout at you when it was cooked, and you collected and ate some good cheap food, and always walking out full!

Next day had a bit of a surprise in the shape of two brothers,Rob and Phil from australia, i had met snowboarding arriving in the same hostel as me. So pretty much for the rest of the week we chilled out and explored together. headed out to the fish market early the next morning and walked around it after being escorted most of the way by this old lady that we had asked which direction it was in. and well it was huge just fish on ice, in tanks, in buckets and frozen all over the place. Plus huge tuna fish frozen solid but the size of a horse and thats without the head and tail they were just massive. After walking around the market for a couple hours we had worked up an appetite and felt that sushi was an appropriete breakfast for the surroundings. As it was staright from the market it was amazingly fresh and the fish literally melted in your mouth.

Over the next couple of days I did some exploring with rob and phil and on my own in some places. Went round some impressive markets selling all sorts of everything, like i mean you can just walk around it for hours and never see the same part of the market twice. also had on one of these outings a nice stew made with horse and well im not going to lie it was good the texture was interesting but the flavour was very good. I also headed off to the imperial palace and the gardens which were very impressive and even some of the blossoms where coming out which was beautiful and im sure when they were all out it would be spectacular. Unfortunaly i didnt get to see the palace itself as it was closed but again its an excuse to come back at some time. The other major thing i wanted to see was the massive multi directional crossroads at shinjuku. Seeing it was amazing one second its empty with cars and busses stopping then the next second you have hundreds of people crossing in all directions weaving in and out of each other to get to the other side of the road. while i was there i saw a glass bridge and tried to find how to get up to it which i did and took some pictures which really show the seconds difference in the crossing from sleeping to racing at full speed.

On the last day for Rob we headed off to the keirin racing which to get to we passed through an interesting little street market serving food of all sorts and little toys and random bits and pieces but as we were in a rush to get to the Racing not knowing when it finished we left it for the way back. as we went on we passed through this little temple area full of shrines and temples which was very quiet considering how it was positioned in the city and again we passed through it but still got some photos. then after a bit of following random paths in the temples park are we eventually saw what looked like a stadium and headed towards it and well thats just what it was a huge football stadium and baseball stadium next to that alldirectly next to this beautiful temple gardens. Sfter seeing a sign with a bike on it we found the velodrome and well lets say we watched a race while we were there, unfortunatly it was on TV as the center was only open for the afternoons gambling,the stadium acting as a bookies, and the only riding going on was the training runs and people just doing laps. This was abit of a downer but still had a couple of beers and checked out the area before being kicked out along with all the old guys spending their afternoon gambling. So we headed back through the gardens to the market to find it all closing down, bad times as since we were there in the morning we had all fancied the food, but picking up the pace we found a few stalls at the end of the market with a few bits and pieces left. We all picked this noodle concoction and it was good full of everything; noodles, fish, bacon, vegetables, rice, cheese, tofu(we think) plus a bunch of other things all wrapped up in a pancake type thing then covered in sauce then another stall had some custurd filled cakey doghnuts which we all bought and well yeah a good meal.

after that we went out and had a few drinks down at the hostels bar called it a night and let Rob head out the next morning. that day me and phil realised we were heading out on planes at roughly the same time so decided to head to the airport at the same time. So spent that day chilling and just walking around the local area and some markets and sent the evening working out the route and the best time to head out which we decided to be about 6 am. this was all well enoughand so we decided to chill in the bar till late and then after that i watched a movie so didnt get to sleep till lik 3am(oops) but still got up and headed off on the train. Spent an hour on it watching japan wake up and the train slowly get busier until we parted ways at different terminals saying our goodbyes and goodluck in each others travels.

The airport was easy after that as i had been there before and had spent 7 hours checking it out last time i was there so headed straight through and got myself checked in. That was easy enough but when it came to my luggage i had to remove my roll matt as apparently is was dangerous but hey ill leave that to the japanese to decide. Grabbed myself some breakfast and then boarded the plane with no issues or delays. the flight was easy and i had an emergency exit so had soooo much leg room and a little prepacked sushi and rice lunch box thing which was pretty good. then a couple hours shut eye. Touched down and passed through customs in Korea (SOUTH before anyone tries to be funny) without any hastle. At this point i had to start my journey to my hostel and following my directions i had taken from the web got me a bus from the airport to the right area. then i had to walk an extra 500meters to the initial 200m my directions told me to walk i headed into what looked like the party district of Seoul (later to be confirmed) followed the last part of my directions then walkied up 4 floors to finally crash in my hostel.

Now the Hostel couldnt be more like someones home if it tried which after speaking to Mr Kim (the owner) turned out to be just that. but means it is just so friendly and welcoming its great had dinner cooked for free and through out that first evening all i did was sit drink sohju and meet people who constantly walked in and out bringing more food with each new person. Now the last week has been pretty much that lots of good food lots of people and just chilling out. I havent done anything major yet just general exploring and wondering and in this city it is so easy to do. Tomorrow im going on a DMZ tour with a guy that arrived last night, which will be interesting s there has been military action happening this week netween north and south korea. But hey i will write about that before i head to Beijing in 8 days...

Take care

Posted by Nick.t 04:12 Archived in Japan Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Moving on

Japan > South Korea

sunny -5 °C
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Annoyed just spent two hours writting a post and the internet dropped out and lost the save so i thought i would tell you this and erm yeah when i have calmed down i will spend a further two hous re-writing it to let you know what has been happening but important thing is im alive and in Seoul (South Korea).

Posted by Nick.t 06:25 Archived in South Korea Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Tokyo

Snowboarding behind me the rest of the world still to go!

sunny 4 °C
View Round the World 2010 on Nick.t's travel map.

Hey people

Ok its been a while so i will go over what iv been up to since the last post!

Obviously iv been snowboarding! and its unbelievable heading down some sick runs and some closed runs batteling my way threw snow sooo deep its just amazing! i have been having a great time. during the last week iv hit up most of the mountains in the area really enjoying iwatake, cortina and Norikura with its long powder covered trails, bits of park riding, big jumps and drops into over a meter of snow been awesome.

Anyway thats the snowboarding bit in the town and back at the hostel iv met up with a few guys and been out boarding with them. a bunch of cool guys and all australian (just cant get away from them) and know how to ride and personally dot think i would have done half the runs without them pushing. so been chilling out too even built a snow cave and spent the night drinking and messing around in it getting about 15 people in there at one point even the owner of the Hostel Hiromi. like i said there wasnt much in the way of entertainment back at echoland but made do with the couple of bars; an interesting Reggae bar called master braster, also a bar next to the hostel called 902 which always had about 6 people in there until we arrived and from nowhere the place would fill to the rafters, and of course the snow cave named 901 in direct competition with the main bar 902 and well i think we had morefun in there most of the time anyway untill we saw the roof was caving slowly so we had to abandon it.

on my last few days in town the hostel put up a sign in the lobby for a fire festival which we all thought sounded fun and like something to do. got our tickets and got the bus there, after buying a 6pack each and a couple of bottles of jim beam and saki) for the 3 hour journey. Now i cant be bothered to write the details so here comes some cut n paste action... Nozawa Fire Festival, Northern Nagano Area, One of Japan’s Top Three Fire Festivals, this intense event is held every year on January 15th. The 42 and 25 year old men of the village take on special roles. A massive tower is erected as a petition for the health and growth of first born sons. At night, villagers rush at the tower with (flaming)torches. The 25 year olds fight them off at the base and the 42 year olds protect the top. The event climaxes in a massive bonfire as the tower succumbs to the flames(after the 25 year olds take a massive beating from the rest of the villiage). The festival’s power and energy have to be seen to be believed (and was great fun especially with people running around in dress up handing out cheap strong saki to everyone)... and back to me the bracketed bits are my extra info.

The next day after getting back at 2 AM i was up and out of the hostel by 7. Me and nick this guy i met went on the Snow Monkeys Tour! which i will let the pictures show what it was like but will give a rough idea of the day. so yeah out the door early taxi to get the bus because we werent up walking! got on he bus met John the tour guide who we had met the night before onte bus from the fire festival home. angot moving and hetold us all about the area we didnt know and i mea everything which was good ad very interesting. about two hours later we got to the monkey valley known in direct translation as 'Hells Valley' becuase it originall was full of gyzers and hot pools and just went on and on but closed at one end like hell according to the original settlers. we then walked up his long winding path up the valley till arriving at the only gyzer that is left which is constantly erupting! and saw our 1st monkey! then we headed up the path to th hot srings(onsen) where the monkeys all hang out. and it was just full of them sitting in the onsen and running around it in the snow.

The next part of the tour was going to a traditional japanese meal for lunch and we were served this amazing meal of beef, rice, salad, local traditional vegetables, and a variety of side dishes plus saki and yellow apple which was all beautiful. After food we were given an hour to walk around the little village and an hour was a long time in this tiny village even though it was really traditional with little market stalls. from the village the tour took us to Zenkoji Temple in Nagano city which was freezing cold but again really beautiful and worth the cold. withte rest ofthis tour cek out th photos.

So right i arrived in Tokyo last night on the local highway bus costing me less than half the price of my original journey out to Hakuba. which is good because snowboading took me a little over my budget so every penny well Yen counts now! Arrived in Tokyo at about 7 or so and had to get from the Shinjuku area to my hostel which on the map looked a long distance and when looking at the squwiggly and bad english translations on signs looked impossible. Until an English speaking couple took pity on me and showed me the route and what to do and made it to the correct area in about 20mins. Next was to find the hostel with the crap instructions i had from a brief telephone call to it. this took me a further 20 minutes of walkng around Japanese backstreets with my big pack and smaller rucksack. but got there in the end. Walked into the recption a room full of dreadlocks piercings and facial hair (that was just the women... i jest). checked in and headed up to my cubicle which shall be decribed in photo form but was definatly different.

Finally, so today im jst chilling and going to get my boarding stuff sent home to save me weight plus a few postcards and gifts to be distributed by mum (enjoy). and then the rest of the week i am going to check out tokyo and avoid spending money.

Take care
Nick

Posted by Nick.t 22:05 Archived in Japan Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Tokyo

Snowboarding behind me the rest of the world still to go!

sunny 4 °C
View Round the World 2010 on Nick.t's travel map.

Hey people

Ok its been a while so i will go over what iv been up to since the last post!

Obviously iv been snowboarding! and its unbelievable heading down some sick runs and some closed runs batteling my way threw snow sooo deep its just amazing! i have been having a great time. during the last week iv hit up most of the mountains in the area really enjoying iwatake, cortina and Norikura with its long powder covered trails, bits of park riding, big jumps and drops into over a meter of snow been awesome.

Anyway thats the snowboarding bit in the town and back at the hostel iv met up with a few guys and been out boarding with them. a bunch of cool guys and all australian (just cant get away from them) and know how to ride and personally dot think i would have done half the runs without them pushing. so been chilling out too even built a snow cave and spent the night drinking and messing around in it getting about 15 people in there at one point even the owner of the Hostel Hiromi. like i said there wasnt much in the way of entertainment back at echoland but made do with the couple of bars; an interesting Reggae bar called master braster, also a bar next to the hostel called 902 which always had about 6 people in there until we arrived and from nowhere the place would fill to the rafters, and of course the snow cave named 901 in direct competition with the main bar 902 and well i think we had morefun in there most of the time anyway untill we saw the roof was caving slowly so we had to abandon it.

on my last few days in town the hostel put up a sign in the lobby for a fire festival which we all thought sounded fun and like something to do. got our tickets and got the bus there, after buying a 6pack each and a couple of bottles of jim beam and saki) for the 3 hour journey. Now i cant be bothered to write the details so here comes some cut n paste action... Nozawa Fire Festival, Northern Nagano Area, One of Japan’s Top Three Fire Festivals, this intense event is held every year on January 15th. The 42 and 25 year old men of the village take on special roles. A massive tower is erected as a petition for the health and growth of first born sons. At night, villagers rush at the tower with (flaming)torches. The 25 year olds fight them off at the base and the 42 year olds protect the top. The event climaxes in a massive bonfire as the tower succumbs to the flames(after the 25 year olds take a massive beating from the rest of the villiage). The festival’s power and energy have to be seen to be believed (and was great fun especially with people running around in dress up handing out cheap strong saki to everyone)... and back to me the bracketed bits are my extra info.

So right i arrived in Tokyo last night on the local highway bus costing me less than half the price of my original journey out to Hakuba. which is good because snowboading took me a little over my budget so every penny well Yen counts now! Arrived in Tokyo at about 7 or so and had to get from the Shinjuku area to my hostel which on the map looked a long distance and when looking at the squwiggly and bad english translations on signs looked impossible. Until an English speaking couple took pity on me and showed me the route and what to do and made it to the correct area in about 20mins. Next was to find the hostel with the crap instructions i had from a brief telephone call to it. this took me a further 20 minutes of walkng around Japanese backstreets with my big pack and smaller rucksack. but got there in the end. Walked into the recption a room full of dreadlocks piercings and facial hair (that was just the women... i jest). checked in and headed up to my cubicle which shall be decribed in photo form but was definatly different.

Finally, so today im jst chilling and going to get my boarding stuff sent home to save me weight plus a few postcards and gifts to be distributed by mum (enjoy). and then the rest of the week i am going to check out tokyo and avoid spending money.

Take care
Nick

Posted by Nick.t 21:01 Archived in Japan Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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