dangermousie: (Default)
[personal profile] dangermousie
We are making plans for our next vacation and among places we are considering are Taiwan and South Korea, two places I am sure a number of my flisties are eminently familiar with.

So, when's a good time to go to those? I think Korea might be too cold before the end of April. Is it nice in the summer or May? How about Taiwan - is summer too hot? Also, while I have a pretty decent idea of what I'd do for a week in Taiwan, despite years of kdramas, I have no idea what there is to do in Korea for a week - can you give me some suggestions? Is Seoul cool? Where else could/should we go?

Oh, and how easily can we get around these places with beyond rudimentary Korean and no Chinese? We got around Japan and Thailand just fine with some phrasebooks and good maps and those places aren't really English-proficient, but are Korea and Taiwan harder?

Help, oh mighty flisties! :)

Date: 2012-03-05 10:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ockoala.livejournal.com
Erh, I'm going back to TW this Summer, be happy to show you around if we happen to hit at the same time.

Taiwan is best before June. April is ideal, May already slightly muggy. I'd avoid the Summer because it's when all the ABCs and MITs run back for three months, so the place is overrun with a sudden influx of Taiwanese-American teenagers and college students. Which is lots of fun if you want to go clubbing.

Everything in Taipei has English on the streets, MRT, department stores. English won't freak ANYONE out, people may suck at it but they are happy to help and gesticulate with you. If you want to go outside of Taipei, just book a local tour rather than try it alone. Taiwan is so beautiful and fun. I'm off to Hong Kong and Guangzhou in a few weeks for work, which reminds me that if you want to visit TW, you can easily add two or three days to HK which is a short one hour flight away.

If you decide on TW, just email me and I can help you plan your itinerary.

Date: 2012-03-05 10:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
Oh, wow, thank you! I get the feeling Mr. Mousie is more interested in Taiwan than S. Korea (his number one choice is Turkey, but that might be better saved until the fall because we'd have to go next month or something, to escape the heat).

Not really a clubbing type :) We went to HK a couple years ago and loved it. One of my favorite trips. I'd love to go back.

We almost went to Taiwan last year so even if we won't be able to make time in April (I don't deal well with heat), I think we'll go either in the fall or next year.

Date: 2012-03-06 01:47 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Lucky, lucky thing. I'm expecting a full post when you get back ;P In any case, have fun! One of these days when I'm not a broke college student I will go abroad to all these wonderful places.

But do tell Mr. Mousie that Turkey is amazing - mild Mediterranean climate, great local and foreign cuisine, some of the most beautiful manmade and natural beauties, and of course it's very Westernized so English won't be a problem.


Date: 2012-03-06 01:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
I always make posts :)

Oh, he doesn't need any encouragement about Turkey. I suspect if I find halfway decent airfares, that is where we are going.

Date: 2012-03-05 11:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fivil.livejournal.com
June in Taiwan was definitely too hot for me, and my hostel staff also said spring or autumn are the best times to travel, or even winter - during that time you can take advantage of Taiwan's hot springs.

Spring in Korea is absolutely ideal and wonderful. I actually recently emailed a friend-of-a-friend who was visiting Seoul for a week or so. If you want I can LJ-message you what I wrote to her - I assumed she knew nothing about Korea so it reads a bit too newbie's manual for you (as you know Korean things already, being a drama afficianado) but it might be useful. I basically wrote down useful phrases and "must see" sights.

If you end up going to Korea, I'd definitely recommend Suwon Folk Village (in Suwon, around 45mins bus ride/train ride from Seoul) where they filmed a bunch of historical dramas/films. And of course the usuals - checking out nightlife in Hongdae, shopping in COEX Mall/Myeongdong, Buddhist temples, Changdeokgung palace (where Goong was filmed AFAIK!).. And of course, yummy Korean food, from bibimbap to barbecue.

If you end up visiting Taiwan and Taipei, I'd definitely recommend the shopping and local fruit, which is delicious! And night markets, mostly filled with snack places. And Taipei 101 of course. Taiwan can be challenging for a tourist who doesn't know Chinese, though .. like, you definitely get by okay, you get fed, you can buy stuff, but asking locals for advice usually results in puzzlement on both sides. Taiwanese were very helpful, though, and very lovely people.

In Korea people seemed to know more English, though not by much.. Of course depends on the person. Some young people were super-into learning English, we even ran into locals who were close to fluent thanks to studying abroad, but others were really shy with whatever little they knew, and older generation generally doesn't know much. You should be fine, though I'd definitely recommend knowing phrases - same with Taiwan, learn more than I did, because the only thing I could really say was "xiexie".

Date: 2012-03-06 01:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
Thank you! We would definitely get and study phrasebooks for either place. I'd love that PM btw.

One of the biggest problems is airfare prices - they are insane :(

Date: 2012-03-05 11:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] linfer.livejournal.com
I was in Korea End of Agust until Midseptember and most of the time it was very hot nd humid. It didn't bother me that much though, but especially August can be tricky
As far as I know March to June is ideal, because the spring time is really nice. That's when I'll go for my second time next year.
You should avoid July/August because of rain season. It was particulary bad in 2011, I was lucky, because I was there only like one or two weeks after very bad, heavy rain that killed lots of people.

It's quite easy to survive in Korea with only knowing how to say Hello and Thank you. In Seoul everything is also in English and in smaller towns you can get around using some simple English and a phrase book. I used one from Lonely Planet, though I mostly used the dictionary.
And most people are really, really helpful and will do a lot for you if you ask them for help.

If you like hiking you should definitely visit Seoraksan National Park, it's a beautiful place. Gyeongju is great for doing stuff like visiting old tombs and other places, but I liked Seoul way more, Buckcheon Village, Bukhansan National Park and I could stayed at Gwanghwamun square like forever.
Hopefully I'll be able to see more next time, three weeks are waaay too short to really get to know a country. I couldn't even go to Busan or Gwangju.

Date: 2012-03-06 01:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
Thank you!

We'd be only going for a week (I have a great vacation policy for the US, but still nowhere near as good as Europe's, and Mr. Mousie can never take off more than a week due to his job) which - eeeeeeeeeh. Sad.

I am thinking more Korea than Taiwan atm.

Date: 2012-03-06 10:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] linfer.livejournal.com
Than you should focus on Seoul if you want to go to Korea, because there are like a million things to discover and it's extremely diverse. If you want to hike you go by metro and bus for like half an hour and you're in the middle of a beautiful National Park, or you have Insangdiong for example. I absolutely love this place, there are a lot of antique shops and art galleries, plus a lovely tea house and awesome street food. Plus there are places like Bukchon Village were you can look at those old houses you see in sageuks and some are even open for the public.
And you can visit the place where they wanted to detonate the bomb in "Iris", Gwanghwamun, it's a beautiful and very lively square with all the children playing in the water and the underground museum about Admiral Lee yun-shin and King Sejong is very well done and interesting.

Date: 2012-03-07 04:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
A week in one city might be too much for my short attention span but with side-trips, it's possible. Thanks for all the suggestions!

Date: 2012-03-05 11:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clairiere.livejournal.com
Weather-wise, autumn is the best time of the year in Korea, just cool and crisp. Spring's next, and April-May can be quite lovely. The one variable in recent years (ie. wasn't like that when I was a kid) is yellow dust (all the way from China), leading to smog alerts on some days. I'd avoid summer, if you don't care for hot AND humid, with rains. Korea has its own monsoon season.

Seoul's the place to start, if you're new to Korea, but there are fast-speed trains so you can plan day excursions. But I'd stick to Seoul if it's your first time. It's huge and can be quite dizzying. Broadly speaking, you've got the Han River ('Han Kang') running through Seoul, with the northern Gangbuk area on one side and the southern Gangbuk area on the other. Making the distinction because Gangbuk = culture and history, Gangnam = modern and trendy. Gangbuk is where old Seoul used to be, with the palaces. Gangman is the hip, teenaged child of old Seoul. Add night-time, when the city's still very much alive (it's a sleepless city), and there's a lot to experience in a week. If you're thinking late May for a visit, May 28 might be a good time to plan around. It's Buddha's birthday for 2012, and the celebrations are very festive, not just in the temples. When they start hanging out lotus lanterns in the streets, I know it's that time of the year.

The official tourism sites for Korea are quite informative, and if you don't believe their spin :) you can look up expats sites, for one thing.

Public transport's excellent, with English translations (even English announcement of stops on the subways), so you don't have to worry about getting around. The population depends on it, so it's very reliable.

I think 1 Night and 2 Days has done a couple of specials on Seoul (I know it did in its final weeks, with their own expert guide), and English subs are available, so watching the eps. can give you an idea of what to expect, b/c part of their mission is to introduce the places they visit. I can look up the eps. for you, I love(d) 1N2D, so any excuse to watch again... :)

Date: 2012-03-06 12:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clairiere.livejournal.com
re: 1N2D:

Just looked up the recent special on Seoul, and I'd definitely recommend it, even w/o English subs. You get a real sense of the sightseeing possibilities. (Their guide was none other than Yoo Hong-Jun, former head of the agency in charge of cultural heritage preservation, and a bestseller author/professor in Korean art history in his own right.)

The first ep. was on Gyeongbok Palace (where Tree With Deep Roots filmed its initial eps.), the second on the Jongmyo shrine (only a few min. away) and the Korea Furniture Museum a little further up north (what CNN calls "the largest best-kept secret in Seoul"). I haven't been to the museum (used to be private but it's supposed to go public mid-March), but I'm familiar with the view there and it's truly stunning, best way to get an overview of old Seoul, and even all the way to Gangnam on a clear day. There's also a lovely temple called Gilsangsa not far from the museum, another best-kept secret kind of a place. Part of the reason both places (the museum and the temple) feel exclusive is because they're located in Seongbuk-Dong, a residential area for old-moneyed Seoul and foreign envoys, so it's very quiet and well-kept vs. the hustle and bustle elsewhere.

The relevant eps. are 372 and 373 (241 and 242 for KBS World). The 1N2D thread on soompi should have links for both eps.
Edited Date: 2012-03-06 12:42 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-03-06 01:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
Thank you! This is so helpful, I am putting it into my memories. I think Korea is fast becoming n1 place to go.

Date: 2012-04-08 08:15 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hi- www.daebaksubs.com has links.


Date: 2012-03-06 02:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moth5dream.livejournal.com
Is there still a site where 1N2D eps are uploaded with English subs? I'm still finishing up the original/first season, but am watching on You Tube w/o subs, since megaupload went down.

Date: 2012-03-06 03:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
I believe [livejournal.com profile] clairiere is fluent in Korean, so she probably doesn't need subs.

Is darksmurf subbing it? They sub some variety shows.

Date: 2012-03-17 04:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moth5dream.livejournal.com
I looked on darksmurf (didn't know about it before!) and didn't see it listed. KBSWorld does the subbing, so I'll have to look around more.

Date: 2012-03-06 09:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clairiere.livejournal.com
Like Mousie said, I don't need subs, but figured they were available since 1N2D has a large fandom. The query often comes up in the recap threads on dramabeans, and I've seen links offered.

Date: 2012-03-17 04:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moth5dream.livejournal.com
Ok, I'll try looking around in some of the posts. KBSWorld subs the eps and people were uploading those to megaupload.

Date: 2012-03-05 11:53 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Spring & autumn are the best time for a visit so May should be good. They are pretty hot during summer so I don't advise you to go. Plus there is typhoon in Taiwan during summer. There is plenty to do in Korea. You can go shopping for ginseng, clothes & cosmetic etc in Dangdaemum Market & Myeondong . Also you can visit some of the kdrama filming site eg Nami island where winter sonata is filmed or go to Jeju island where most of the kdrama are filmed:) (You need to take a plane to fly there). In addition, you can learn how to make kimchi & savour some of the korean food in the street. There are also plenty of theme parks like Lotte World & Everland for the kids or the child in you:) Everywhere you go will sort of remind you of some scenes in k-drama eg the palace, Presidential Blue House etc:P

If you go Taipei, i think English is widely understood.Outside of Taipei, you might encounter some difficulties but with some phrasebooks, it should be ok. Probably the Koreans are less English-proficient but Seoul is a cosmopolitan city so you should be able to get some help along the way:) Just do more research & brush up your Korean by watching more kdrama:)

Date: 2012-03-06 01:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
Ooooh, thank you. I would normally go at the end of May but we have a family wedding to go to, so it's either April or June. I am tending more towards Korea atm, just because it's easier to plan for June than April and June in Taiwan would be much too hot.

Date: 2012-03-06 02:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] puion.livejournal.com
I would prefer South Korea more than Taiwan.
Taiwan is good for food.

Seoul has so much to see, to shop, and to eat!

Date: 2012-03-06 02:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
I am veery excited.

Date: 2012-03-06 02:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rectherapyfreak.livejournal.com
If you go to South Korea Jeju Island would proabbly be awesome to visit!!! Looks SO beautiful!!

I recommend this phrase book:
Its small and has a TON of info! It has phrases romanized and in Hangul. I love it.
I checked real quick and they have a Mandarin and Cantonese one too. I bet they are just as good as the Korean one. I'm not sure which version of Chinese they speak in tawain or how different the 2 are.

Date: 2012-03-06 03:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
This is super-helpful, thanks!

Now if only plane tickets very cheaper...sigh.

Date: 2012-03-06 07:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elizabennet69.livejournal.com
"his number one choice is Turkey, but that might be better saved until the fall because we'd have to go next month or something, to escape the heat)"

Let me know if you visit.

S.Korea is great and there is lots to do. Lovely palaces (the historical places are all influenced by Chinese) great GREAT food (but you gotta love garlic) and lovely people. I have had a wonderful time in S.Korea. In and around Seoul. I also love hiking and there are lots of good places to hike (S.Koreans love to hike and they are all very friendly).

Also you get to see some stuff you see in dramas - I saw a guy piggybacking his drunk girlfriend at about 02:00 a:m in Myeungdong (that totally made my day since it was so similar to My Sassy Girl :) )

Not many people speak English but they are all very nice. And I was for some reason a hit with the Korean ajumma - now they are a force to be reckoned with - and they helped me more than a couple of occasions and none spoke English.

Go to Korea, at least you'll eat well!

Date: 2012-03-07 04:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
Thank you, this is super helplful!

Date: 2012-03-06 08:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] timescout.livejournal.com
I don't think I have much to add to what others have already sad. I've been to Korea both in early spring (it was petty darn chilly for April that time and I was sick with a bad cold almost the whole 2 weeks) and in autumn at the end of September when the wather was just perfect for the whole time.

Seoul has such a lot to see and do that I think you can easily spend the whole week right there. We had almost 3 weeks the 1st time around and it wasn't nearly enough. :) My Korean was almost non-existent on my first visit but it's amazing how far you can get with just a few phrases and 'hello' 'thank you' and 'good bye'. But like others have said, you can get by with English most of the time. I also found it helps a lot if you can at least read hangul even if you don't know what most of the words mean. *g* Me and my pal have been talking about going back next year. I'd really love to but we'll see....

The airfares are damned high from here as well, even if you manage to get a somewhat decent bargain. It was always the largest expenditure for me.
Edited Date: 2012-03-06 08:59 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-03-07 04:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
The airfares are insane :(

Wow, I can't imagine ever having 3 weeks off. :)

Date: 2012-03-07 08:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] timescout.livejournal.com
Yeah, we get a pretty decent amount of time off here, by law. I can also get extra days/weeks off from overtime. My employer is quite nice in that respect.

Date: 2012-03-09 06:02 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Can I suggest the Philippines? Maybe it's not your type, with it being a country with negative reviews and all... but if you want to go to the beach [it's already the summer season here], I'd suggest Surigao. just ranting.

Date: 2012-03-10 03:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
Thank you :)

Date: 2012-03-12 06:01 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Just to add something about Korea... a must would be going to a SPA and getting a bodyscrub!

Date: 2012-03-13 01:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
Cool, thank you!


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