First off thanks for anyone who has been reading these , I’m not necessarily sure what the end goal for these little blog posts is but I have enjoyed sharing my insights on travel non-the-less, this one is a little bit more on the complex side but I assure you it’s not that bad !!
So the first thing I decided when the idea came to me that I should go to Asia is that I was going to sell my camera body and upgrade to a new brand and model, this may not sound relevant now but it will make more sense as I progress.
I went ahead and opened an American Express Delta Sky Miles credit card , with a bonus of 30,000 sky miles after spending 1,000 U.S dollars , 30,000 miles will get me across the ol Pacific Ocean no problem . If any of you want I can send you a referral link for this offer and I will get a bonus 5,000 miles or something if you sign up! There are multiple other airlines who offer different deals just like delta.
I opened the account and sold my previous camera gear, then I purchased the new camera gear on my fancy new American Express card, and payed it off within 3 business days. Soon enough I had enough sky miles to book that one way flight to Korea , and I also had a credit card with a balance of $0.00 that won’t negatively affect my credit score.
After traveling for a few weeks, I kept my eyes peeled for any deals back to the U.S , within a fairly flexible time zone. Using websites such as www.skyscanner.com and www.google.com/flights I eventually found a cheap flight for 532.23 USD all the way back to the States ! I booked it and the rest was history.
How I lived in Bali on 20 Dollars a day (somedays) ( and you can too )
A lot of people ask me how I can afford to travel so much, it’s a common misconception that traveling is extremely expensive, It CAN be expensive but if you do a bit of research and planning, it can be cheaper than living back at home! Nowadays thanks to advancements in internet communications it has become a lot easier. There are tons of young adults our age who travel for months at a time this way, and to be honest there are ways I could travel in foreign countries for even cheaper, but maybe I’ll write a different guide about that. So for everyone who has asked how I can support myself while traveling, here is a quick little guide
In Indonesia, most normal days I was averaging about $20.00 USD or 266,000 IDR. This is a breakdown of what that money goes to:
Scooter rental- 40k or $3.10 (My scooter Sheila got me everywhere I needed to go)
3 meals -60k or $4.60 (Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng)
Surfboard rental- 50k or $3.80 (Federico wave hunting)
Big Beer- 27k or $2.10 (Bintang)
Grand Total = $20.10 or 266,000 IDR
So obviously a few of these things can be switched around, on days I didn’t surf I could use that extra 50k on a different activity such as a 1 hour full body massage (65k or $5.00 USD) or buy more drinks or better food, there are plenty of cool free things to do on the island within driving distance the point is that if you don’t party like a rockstar you can easily have a good time without hemorrhaging your bank account .
Im sitting here in the coffee shop letting my phone and computer charge surrounded by some sort of meerkat looking animal and I figured I would do a lazy checklist of the things Ive found to love about South Korea.
1. How safe I am
Before my trip there had been a lot of things in the news about the terrors of North Korea. I had people question why I would go to South Korea, and I even had someone tell me I should cancel my trip. Its fascinating how much western media influences peoples opinions about a place. I don’t think I have ever felt more safe than I have felt here in South Korea. The police don’t even carry guns for pete sake. I tried to find some data on how many violent crimes have been committed in Seoul in the past year, but all I could find was one that happened in Gangnam about 6 months ago. When I ask the Koreans I have met if they are scared of North Korea, they tell me that there is nothing to worry about. The boarder of north and south Korea is called the DMZ and it is a tourist attraction, just like some of the palaces and everything else in Seoul.
2. The nightlife
Korean bars don’t really close, drinks are cheap, and you don’t tip. This combination of things makes for a fun night. Hungrypartier.com, a website literally about a guy who travels the world partying (what a job) says “Seriously guys, I’ve partied in over 70 countries and 150 cities, and nothing comes even close to the insanity levels of Seoul. I’ve been to almost every club in Las Vegas, and the insane clubs of Barcelona, Stockholm, Berlin, and Bangkok. They have nothing compared to Seoul. You must come here to experience it for yourself.” I haven’t partied as much as this guy, but I can agree that it is an insane experience. Start at the park in Hongdae with a bottle of Soju ( weak flavored vodka that costs 1.50 USD a bottle) and see where the night takes you.
The Jimmjilbang or Korean bath house is in a close relationship with the night life. These palaces are open 24 hours a day and are like huge spas. You pay an entrance fee of around 10-12 U.S dollars and this allows you access to multiple floors of different amenities. When you check in, they give you a set of pajamas that you can wear around everywhere besides the baths ( which are separated by gender) When heading to the baths, you strip down to your birthday suit. Its basically like a giant boys locker room with different hot tubs. Some of my favorite baths were the Mud bath and the Jade bath. Also in the basement are some unique saunas, such as the salt sauna. For about 15 USD you can receive a Korean skin scrub in which a worker will attack you with sandpaper for about 30 minutes and get all of the dead skin off of every inch of your body. I have never felt so clean in my life after receiving one of these skin scrubs. Once finished in the baths, you can throw on your pajamas and head upstairs to many different relaxing saunas, a restaurant, lounging area, and sleeping area. It doesn’t cost anymore to spend the night at the Jimmjilbang, so perfect end to a long night out.
4. Animal Cafes
Probably one of the stranger but equally great things about Seoul is their love of combining coffee shops with interesting animals. During my time here I went to a cat cafe, a raccoon cafe, and meerkat cafe. You pay an entrance fee into the cafe which includes a free drink of your choice, once in it is just like a normal coffee shop, but with furry little creatures running around! What could be more relaxing than this meerkat that’s sitting on my lap while I type ?
5. Family style eating
In Korea, its uncommon for people to eat alone. Most restaraunts meals come in platters that can be shared between 2-4 people. Its also very common to cook your own food here. Once you are seated, your server will turn on whatever style of grill you are using that is located in the middle of the table, after ordering they will bring out numerous side dishes and whatever choice of fish, meat, or vegetables you have ordered. Kimchi is always present on the table. This allows the meal to go at its own pace, and it makes a lot more sense.