Subway and Bus fares on the rise

The Korea Times is reporting a bit of bad news.

The subway and bus fares in Seoul are on the rise.  Sometime in early 2012, they’re going to raise the fares 200 won, making an average transaction 1100 won with T-money.

The fares will go into effect gradually.  100 won  will go into effect in November, then later another 100 will kick in.

Still, compared with cities of similar size, it’s pretty reasonably priced.

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Hong Kong Slideshow

Here is a slideshow of some of the best of the photos which I took in Hong Kong.

Asia’s Global city

So, for Chuseok I went to Hong Kong and Macau.  It was a really wonderful trip.  The bizzarre thing about it is it’s hard to pinpoint what was so wonderful about Hong Kong.

I think it’s great selling point, especially from someone living in Seoul, is how international it is.   I mean it was a hunt to find Chinese food in Hong Kong.  Western food from steak houses to McDonalds on the other hand were all over the place.  We found some Chinese food, but it was a bit of a hunt.

Not only that but if you like shopping Hong Kong has every premiere brand I’ve ever heard of there.  From Apple and Armani to Prada and Rolex if you want something expensive you can find it in Hong Kong.  Or if you want something cheap they have a huge selection of  pretty good knock-offs  and discount items.  I got a great ironic t-shirt.

 

Not only that but English was everywhere.   I was expecting it to be Seoul-like with most of the working class people only speaking Cantonese.  However, English was so common here.  It makes me so jealous.

It was a city with some beautiful sites to see.    The Skyline of the city was wonderful both from the ferry and from the top on The Peak’s observation deck.   The skyline also showed itself extremely pretty from the waters between Hong Kong proper and Kowloon.

The trip out to Lan Tau was a pretty remarkable side expedition.  The glass-bottomed cable car proved every bit worth the wait in the long line.   The Big Buddha was a pretty beautiful statue.  I was tempted with the cynical thought that if you’ve seen one Buddha you’ve seen them all but I think no that really isn’t the case as each beautiful statue I go to see is as cool as the last one.  The real star of this was the glass-bottomed cable car ride. The view up and down the mountain path is truly spectacular.    When you come over a hill and see the giant statue at the end of a long stretch of trees it’s quite spectacular.

Macau was really another great side trip.   If you don’t like gambling their is just enough to spend about a day wandering around this small island part of China.    It’s got a unique look thanks to several hundred years of Portugese occupation.  Also it’s one of the few places in the Far East that allows everyone to gamble on casino games.  So they have several big Casinos there.   We went to the Sands, and I won about $60 US playing black jack.   I was surprised to see row after row of baccarat tables.

I think the real star of the trip though was just the overall look and feel of Hong Kong.  I’d reccomend it to anyone looking for a break from Seoul’s somewhat provincial attitudes.

The Ocean closes?

For the three day weekend around Korea’s independence day I decided to go to Busan again with Lost in Seoul.

We arrived in the afternoon yesterday.  After getting some sillyness with the trains sorted out and getting everyone together the first place we went was to Haeundae beach, just a short walk from the hostel.

The crowds were as expected–absolutely huge.   It was nearly impossible to find the sand there were so many mats and umbrellas there.

The beach was pretty awesome, but after only about half an hour I was told that the beach was closing.   That’s right at 6:30, THE OCEAN CLOSES.    Seriously what the hell?

I mean why can’t they just post a sign that says no lifeguard swim at your own risk.  I’ve been swimming in the ocean since I was a little kid and there was almost no undertoe to speak of, the waves were very mild (though bigger for Korea) and the current was a non-factor.   The water was safe for people to swim in.

So I don’t really get the point of closing the beach especially so early.

Secondly, from there we went back to Fuzzy Navel and had some of their “FN tacos.”   I got a chicken chimichanga, Corona and a strawberry mojito.  The chimichanga was delicious.    A strawberry mojito though is a poor drink.  Strawberries and mint just don’t go together well.

From there we went on a bit of a pub crawl.   There were a lot of drinks of varying quality consumed over the next few hours.

Then it was back to the hostel, which frankly does not impress.  We stayed in much more comfortable lodgings in June.   Chan’s Guest house however  has restrictions on using the air conditioning, and not a single chair in the place.

 

Bungee jumping with Lost in Seoul

So yeah I went bungee jumping with some old and new friends in Lost in Seoul.

Trying to describe it is hard,  you look out into the distance, to avoid looking down and then jump.   Then you fall for a bit, and the rope catches you and you bounce back up and down.

You can see that in the video.  What you can’t see is that an ankle jump is actually kind of painful.   I’ve heard a body jump is less so but I didn’t want to spend the money to go a second time.

When you reach the bottom all of your weight+ the force of your momentum is reversed and it really causes a lot of havoc internally.  I clenched all my muscles trying to keep my shit together.

This was maybe a mistake but when you’ve jumped off a bridge you’re not really in your right mind.

After that we  went and did some water sports.  Fly Fish is really cool.  It’s a raft that is unstable and every time it hits a wave it goes airborne.  The only mistake was doing this after we bungee jumped which made everything seem pretty vanilla.

 

Jeju slideshow

Jeju: The Third and Final days

So the last two days at Jeju were kind of a blur.   So much stuff happened.

 

So on the Third day we started out exploring.  We accidentally found a temple across the street from the nearby minimart and we decided to take a look .  It was very beautiful in there.  They had a great main set of statues.

Then we hung out on the beach and Glen ate his MRE that he had brought just in case.  .  I went swimming briefly on the  main beach for the first time.  I wasn’t preparing for it, so I swam in my shorts.  Went back  to my hotel and got ready to go out.

From there the first place we went was an all organic vegetarian restaurant.   They served up a delicious salary bibimbap.   It was one  of the best bibimbaps I’ve had  in Korea.  Everything was delicious, though I put a bit too much red pepper sauce in it.  The decor in the restaurants.

From there we went on to a lava tube cave.  Which was a delightfully cool tube cave.  It’s a fairly straight run down the side of a mountain made by a tube of lava.  Only the middle section of the tube was open to the public but it was really terrific to see the huge arching ceilings along the whole thing.

From there we went just a short hop to a hedge maze.  In the middle of the  maze is a bell to ring.   Our team had a lot of fun but finished last.  We just kept going in circles.

Next we went for  a nice hike at the Jeomul recreational forest.  In the forest included a really cool nature path, a fresh water spring, a buhddist temple, and  a set of super cool wooden statues.

After that we went to dinner.   I was starving at this point so the very average pork and mackerel tasted incredible.  I’m quite sure though that if I had not been quite so hungry I would have been unimpressed again.

Finally for the Third day, we went to the ghost road and Loveland.  The Ghost Road is a neat optical illusion where it appears as if the road tilts up when in fact its going down hill-and gives the illusion that ghosts are pushing your vehicle forward.

Loveland is hard to describe in words but it’ll have to do because most of the pictures are too NSFW to post here.  It’s an erotic theme park with a great many statues and other works of art throughout the park.  Jeju is the Korean destination for honeymoons so you will see many newlywed couples walking around here.  They’re all outrageous, and absurd to the point of being over the top.

From there we went home and more or less went straight to bed.  Next morning we woke up for some last minute beach shenanigans before we had to check out from the hotel.  People piled seaweed on top of one another in a disgusting game of can-you-top-this?

Lastly we went to a botanical gardens where there were many foreign species of plants growing.  A lot of these were very beautiful and something different from what we had seen on the rest of the island.

And that was all of my Jeju holiday.