Did you know that sometimes the toilet paper is outside the stall? Or that you cannot use Google Maps to navigate in Korea. And if you are going hiking, you should probably check the air quality first. Are you planning a trip to Korea soon? I’ve lived in Korea off and on since I was a little girl. And without fail, I continue to learn something new almost every day. I hate to say I told you so -but I will! Here are a few cups of tea to sip on concerning the Korean travel experience.
Why stay in an Airbnb when you can stay in a love motel? Duh- it’s part of the Korean travel experience.
Korean apartments tend to be small. And many young adults live with their parents until after marriage. And although PDA is becoming more acceptable, many young people get together at inexpensive Love Motels for cuddle time.
Love Motels are easily recognized by their suggestive names, bright neon lights, unique themes, obstructed entrances, and hourly rates. I giggle like a school girl when I find “extras” like lubricants, X-rated movies, and condoms.
Korea is Extremely Safe
Yes, it’s true. There are things I’d do here that I wouldn’t do back home. But it wasn’t always that way. Midnight walks down dark alleyways, leaving your purse out in the open – no need to worry.
However, things weren’t always this way. Before CCTV, the country had an almost lawless mentality. There was a time when people were afraid to walk along the Han river for fear of getting mugged and murdered. CCTV was installed nationwide to combat crime in the 1990s. And since then, the country has been very safe. However, CCTV doesn’t mean you can be reckless. Stay vigilant, stay aware of your surroundings and keep your neck “on a swivel” when driving or crossing the street. The biggest modern danger is likely bad/drunk drivers.
Don’t be surprised to see a note or a small trash can near the toilet that says don’t flush your toilet paper. I know – gross. Most of my Korean friends say this isn’t an issue anymore. But, I’m not sure. And I definitely wouldn’t want to be responsible for flooding the public bathroom. Oh yeah, don’t be surprised if you push open the door to uncover a “squatty potty”. Lol, it’s not as complicated as it looks.
South Korea is 70% Mountains
I love to hike, but the air quality on the peninsula can get pretty nasty. You’ll climb, pant heavily, sweat, and curse through some of the most beautiful scenery, temples, and vistas you’ll ever see. And you’ll find a humility too. Eighty-year-old men pass you, effortlessly, with their hands behind their backs.
Wifi is Everywhere
South Korea is the world leader in Internet connectivity. Traveling around a country the same size as Indiana contributes to its South Korea connectivity. You’ll find public wifi on buses, trains, in the malls – even on the tops of mountains. However, be careful. It is often unprotected. And sometimes, I have had problems connecting to it. So although it’s everywhere, you might not want to rely exclusively on public wifi.
Rest Stops are More than Pee Breaks
Korean rest stops are AWESOME. They are fun places to people watch and stretch your legs, maybe get some noodles or mandoo. You can meditate in a temple, pick up some denim lingerie, or a new bracelet. Take some time, stroll through stunning gardens or get your workout on at the Nautilus-like exercise machines. You might even stumble upon a musical performance.
Camera Shutters are Disabled
You cannot turn off the shutter click on a cell phone purchased in South Korea. Telephone manufacturers prevent you from disabling the shutter click so you can’t take voyeuristic photos. A simple Google search will tell you why. South Korea has tons of selfie stations, so it’s not uncommon to see people taking many pictures. But be careful. If you want to take someone’s picture, you may want to ask them first.
Lack of Trash Cans
Few things irk me more than the lack of trash cans in South Korea. The country has a detailed recycling program that includes specific, color-coded trash bags. The government removed trash cans so residents could not bypass the process.
As a result, I sometimes travel with my water bottle and cloth shopping bag. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to carry trash or an empty cup around until I found a receptacle to toss it into. If you have the same problem, head to a public restroom. They usually have trash bins.
Korea is a mix of quirky, modern, and traditional customs. Spill the tea. Let us know some of the interesting things you’ve come across in your Korean Travel Experience.
Want to read more about Korean culture before you arrive? Click Here to read about three points of culture shock in Korea.