In the interest of speeding things along, I won’t go through each and every stop bus ride, stop-over city, and fantastic meal that we had in Korea. Early on in our trip, we got our hands on a copy of Lonely Planet’s Korea guide. Using a technique that we had perfected in previous countries, R took a photo of each page of the book (a much quicker process than it sounds with yours truly flipping pages), then converted them all to jpegs, which he then loaded on his iPod touch and, voilà!, we had our own digital guidebook, which we followed to the letter
We didn’t try to get ‘off the beaten track’ in Korea because time was tight and we were actually very interested in the beaten track. That, along with language difficulties, kept us pretty much in line with the guidebook’s recommendations, but only in terms of which cities and sights we visited. Restaurants and hotels we found mostly on our own or through the advice of the handful of English-speaking locals that we met. South Korea is a pretty small country, all things considered, but we had to pick and choose among the highlights since there are enough national parks and quirky cultural spots to fill up more time than we had. We decided to skip Jeju Island (aka ‘Honeymoon Island’) because we felt that it warranted more time than we had. Ditto on several other island destinations recommended by our book- but that was more about cost of ferries and/or flights. What we ended up with was a tour of the east coast of the country, including highlights like Gyeongju, Samcheok, and the DMZ. We also visited two national parks, which exposed us not only to Korea’s natural beauty, but the cultural phenomenon of Hiking Grandmothers.