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South Korea

A juicy bubble of delicious food, tradition and k-pop.

Following a smooth flight from Osaka we arrived in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea.

Good to know:

  • Try a Korean barbecue, they’re delicious
  • 1 British pound = approx 1,476 Korean Won
  • You might struggle to find ATMs that work well
  • Koreans are super friendly
  • Public transport is really easy to navigate

We stayed in two different hostels within Seoul, for the first few nights we stayed at a place called Kim’s Family Guesthouse which was around 700m from the Hongik University metro station. This is one of the most popular areas in Seoul. The accommodation has a very homely feel to it with having been built in an apartment, the showers are warm and the kitchen has everything you could ask for. The owner was very helpful in trying to answer all of our many questions. When I say ‘our’, I mean Hannah’s.

Mr Comma Guesthouse was by far my favourite place to stay because of their homely atmosphere and comfortable beds. The WIFI is fast, the kitchen is easy to use, the showers are powerful and the house is perfectly warm; this was amazing to us because it was so cold outside. The guesthouse is situated around 800m away from the Hongik Univeristy metro station which is opposite the streets holding many vibrant shops and street food.

Barbecue – Korean style! I had been waiting for so long to have an actual Korean barbecue and it did not disappoint. We ventured out into the cold air to hunt for our first meal in South Korea, we stopped at the first restaurant we saw just because it was bustling with locals inside. I think I can speak for both of us when I say it was a mouth watering meal worth waiting for! You order two portions of meat to grill yourself to which these are complimented by around 8 other random side dishes. We were pleasantly surprised by the women who worked here, they were very kind and helpful.

Myeongdong street food – you must try the street food in this area, I tried to make my way through everything that was cooking but I failed miserably as I fill up quite quickly!

Gyeongbokgung Palace – also known as Gyeongbok Palace and used to be the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty, built in 1395. Make sure you get off at Angus Station and you’ll find the palace heading east.

Bukchon Hanoi village is perfect for a taste of Korean tradition. I love the feel you get from walking around the beautiful houses, you’ll also see women dressed in their traditional clothing along with their friends and loved ones. You can also find a stunning viewpoint if you keep following the signs up towards the hill; we visited during sunset.

Wander into sheltered markets to taste new foods cooked right in front of you while sitting on small plastic stools.

DMZ – the Korean Demilitarised Zone is definitely worth a visit. We took a tour from our Guesthouse early in the morning, much to my dislike (not an early morning person) and set out for the DMZ. On arrival, we were introduced into a cinema room where we watched a short video explaining some of the history between South and North Korea. The tour includes seeing the sights: The Demilitarised Zone, The Third Infiltration Tunnel, The Dora Observatory, Exhibition Hall, Freedom Bridge and Dorasan Train Station.

BusanCanvas Hostel is probably one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in because it was literally built like a hotel and had the most comfiest of facilities. We found it really hard to step outside the building. I wasn’t too keen on this city, everywhere we walked smelt of sewage which if you ask me isn’t a very nice smell… also make sure you draw money out before coming here because we found it really hard to find an ATM that worked well. As we arrived during a brisk winter, the usually beautiful Haeundae Beach was cold and dull but that din’t stop us from enjoying a peaceful walk along it.

Jeonju – this charming village has got to be my favourite place in South Korea. Do not miss it! Why? Because you’ll get the chance to really get a feel for the South Korean traditional housing and their cuisine. We stayed in Happy Hanoi Guesthouse 2 which was a beautiful house tucked away in a small pocket of Jeonju. We slept on the floor in a traditional wooden room with a view of the courtyard. I was excited by the fact we were sleeping on a floor – a heated floor may I add!

They see me rollin’…

Explore the traditional village of Jeonju by this cool looking scooter. It was so much fun, I think we forgot how cold we were for a couple of hours and enjoyed our time wizzing around the cobbled roads and finding sizzling hot street food.

Make sure you take a walk around the surrounding village, you’ll see girls wearing matching outfits and the most beautiful traditional houses.

Nambu Market is a market running along the waterfront selling anything from fresh fish to juicy fruits. We took our new toy on a ride through the narrow pathways feeling like absolute rebels.

Hannah, “Hey, we could ski here”… me, “oh really? Shall we?” Hannah, “Yes, let’s go skiing for two days then”. So off we went on another spontaneous trip! We stayed at the Yongpyeong Resort Hotel which was a quick 5 minute walk to the bottom of the slope. I was absolutely buzzing as I had never been skiing on actual snow before, and where better to do it than the next location of the Winter Olympics? We had so much fun here, Hannah taught me how to ski properly, we ate about 4 kebabs per day and laughed so hard we cried.

This trip was a jam packed 10 days of us running for every bus, getting trapped in an elevator, being almost late for everything and Hannah making me laugh by the hour!

I hope this blog post has been somewhat useful, thank you for reading.

xoxo

Love Thy Traveller

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J A P A N

Japan.

Where the freshest sushi is created, where Mount Fuji stands tall, where snowboarders cut the finest powder and where you’ll find quirky fashion statements around every corner.

Japan has always been a dream of mine, an obsession with this intriguing country has developed quickly over the years. So when a friend got in touch and asked if I wanted to join her in Japan, how could I say no?

Good to know:

  • Japan is very expensive!
  • You will find it hard to come by good English or somebody that understands you but the Japanese are very generous and will try to help you in every way that they can
  • 1 British pound = 147.38 Japanese Yen
  • Access to WiFi is really good
  • Eat the traditional food, that’s an order!

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I stayed in ‘IRORI Hostel’ which was around an 8 minute walk from the metro station. As I breached the surface of the underground I felt a rush of ice cold air greet my face as I found myself surrounded by a wall of towering buildings. Even though Tokyo is a capital city, at 1:30am it was deadly silent that it was almost deafening. I used my maps.me app to guide myself. As I was walking a kind man saw me in my backpacking attire and immediately asked if I needed help finding my hostel. He kindly looked it up on his phone and escorted me to the door, told me to enjoy my experience in Tokyo and carried on walking home. This is just one example of how kind the Japanese people are.

With 2 hours sleep I woke up at 7am to explore the world’s biggest fish market, Tsukiji Fish Market. I bought a travel card (similar to London’s Oyster card) where I loaded around 2,000 Yen so I didn’t have to buy single tickets for every trip.

I meandered through the never ending rows of fresh fish being cut, beheaded, skinned and packed before my very eyes. Men work hard from the early hours of the morning to sell fish coming in many shapes and sizes.

Something smells a little bit fishy, doesn’t it? Or maybe that’s the smell of my clothes. After exploring, me and my friend Hannah sat down in a tiny sushi restaurant where we waited for around 40 minutes to taste the freshest sushi I’ve ever eaten. I’m more of a macci girl but I still enjoyed the experience of trying the different kinds of sushi – for breakfast!

We then ventured out into Shibuya but only for a few hours until we crashed; returning back to our hostel for a well deserved nap before heading out to explore Tokyo at night.

We spent the next afternoon browsing through racks of the coolest vintage clothes until that sharp feeling in the pit of our stomachs yelled out. We tried our first Japanese ramen in a cute restaurant to which we don’t even know the name of because everything in this area was written in Japanese!

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More from the area of Shibuya and the famous Shibuya crossing…

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Girl, just call me Beyoncé.

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Do not miss the chance to sing your heart out whether you chose to go alone or with some friends. The Japanese love to sing karaoke as a social or solo activity; you can rent a room, order drinks and dress up in crazy outfits. Me and Hannah loved this experience, that’s after we figured out how to work the karaoke machine…

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Puppy love! We were obsessed with the fact that you could go to a place where you paid to sit and pay with little dogs just for fun. We went to Dog Heart in Shibuya to play with beagles and a lovely golden retriever, you could also chose an option where you took a dog for a walk but we decided to stay in the warmth for a while.

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Our next stop was to go and see the famous Mount Fuji. As we were exploring Japan at a time when it was unlikely that beginner hikers would attempt the climb, we only admired the mountain from a far. We stayed at K’s House Fuji View which I highly recommend as the interior design was a traditional Japanese style with a hot shower, fast WiFi, close to the train/bus station and the beds were that comfy that I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning… much to Hannah’s dismay.

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So we took a train to Shimoyoshida Station and followed the map to the Churreito Pagoda where we were able to see a view of Mount Fuji from a distance.

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Kyoto. We stayed at Grateful Hostel in the area of Kamigyo-ku. From here we ventured into Arashiyama where we strolled through a bamboo forest and took a long walk admiring the beautiful surroundings that brought us to delicious street food and shrines embedded within autumn leaves and flowers.

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Gion, a traditional corner home to the Kyoto Traditional Musical Art Foundation ‘Ookini Zaidan‘. Here you can watch a display of traditional Japanese performances such as the Kado (Flower Arrangement), Chado (Tea Ceremony), Kyogen (Ancient Comic Play) and the Kyomai (Kyoto Style Dance).

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Feeding time at Chojiro. Eating here was sugoil (awesome)! I had never been to a train sushi restaurant before, even back in England, so experiencing it for the first time in Kyoto was a special treat. I am not the best raw fish eater so I opted for tuna rolls which were absolutely delicious. Dining with touchscreen service also added to the experience.

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Oh deer lord! Welcome to Nara, home to hundreds of deer ruling over grass and streets. Myself and Hannah really enjoyed feeding the deer, that’s until a really crazy looking one with hungry eyes chased us around. He/she just ran at people who were holding crackers looking to head-butt them, finding this hilarious we were entertained for a good hour or so in the deer parks.

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The Itsukushima Shrine is definitely worth a visit on the island of Itsukushima. I loved wandering around this charming island, it felt like I was walking through time.

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Travelling around Japan would not be complete without a visit to Hiroshima. Hiroshima is a city which was impacted hugely by an atomic bomb during World War 2 and left many ruins including the famous Genbaku Dome which shows a spine curling shell still standing. I won’t go into the facts as it’s an unbelievable experience to discover for yourself the many artefacts, true accounts and information panels you’ll find within the museum.

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Must try: Okonomiyaki – a delicious Japanese dish consisting of pork, egg, cabbage and soba cooked to perfection on a steaming hot surface in front of you. I love unique dining experiences and this was by far unique for me.

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Osaka. Starting in Fukushima we ate in a Japanese restaurant serving handmade green onion and soy sauce Takoyaki which kind of looked like a Yorkshire pudding.

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So we fancied a bit of fun, Hannah suggested Universal Studios and so the next thing we knew is that we were leaving our accommodation, Evergreen Hostel, to catch the train to Sakurajima where we waited in line to enter Universal Studios. One of the best days of my travels. Why? Harry Potter World of course!

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Thank you for reading, I hope you found this post somewhat interesting and useful.

Happy travelling

xoxo

Love Thy Traveller

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SRI LANKA

‘A flavoursome teardrop of India’

Good to know:

1 GBP (British pound) = approximately 202 LKR (Sri Lankan Rupee)

For the girls – if you’re a girl solo traveller then I recommend you wear a ring on your wedding finger to fend off the sometimes forward Sri Lankan men. I was approached and followed when I walked alone a few times so I told them I was going to meet my boyfriend.

It was a last minute decision to travel to Sri Lanka. I was researching where to go next while sitting on my hostel bed in Langkawi when I got talking to a girl about Sri Lanka. I’d heard good things from other travellers too so I spontaneously booked a flight for the next day.

I flew into Colombo and took a bus straight from the airport to the Colombo bus station taking around half an hour.

Hectic. That’s what my first impression of Colombo was – hectic. I stepped off the bus and straight into a tuk tuk’s way who refused to acknowledge my presence! They come out of no where, appearing from behind cars and buses sounding their high pitched horns with every turn. The tuk tuks’ are like snakes, slithering their way through traffic hunting for naive tourists to lure into their care.

I advise that you only spend the one night here as it can be just like any other city: busy and dirty. I stayed at the ‘Colombo City Hostel’ which I booked through HostelWorld costing £3.65 per night for a 6 bed female dorm. They do not have aircon but a small fan above your bed with a huge locker to store your luggage. If you walk up to the roof you can see a great view of the city and the nearby beach.

Take a train to Kandy for a cheap 190 Rupees (94p) and enjoy the scenic route taking approximately 3 hours. I stayed at a hostel within a 10 minute walk from the station called, ‘Bunk Planet’, a comfortable capsule hostel with a lot of privacy. If you are travelling alone I recommend that you stay at a hostel in the city centre as mine was a 20 minute walk away.

Take a walk around Kandy lake where you’ll find a stunning view of the houses built on the mountains and the famous Buddha Tooth Temple. I didn’t go inside the temple as it came with a price of 1,500 Rupee.

Eat at a local restaurant for some authentic Sri Lankan dishes. My favourite was the rotti as I can’t handle spice (yes I know, great idea going to a country oozing with spice). Rotti is a traditional bread-like meal, sort of like a naan bread but lighter and more stretchy so you can tear pieces off and dip them into curry sauces. You usually get two or three sauces to eat with it.

Juice me up! You must try the fresh fruit from the markets, the mangos and bananas are to die for. I was wandering through Kandy market when a man offered me some of his mango for free and it was possibly one of the juiciest pieces of mango I’ve ever tasted.

Take a tuk tuk to a waterfall within the mountains. If you tell the driver you want to do a waterfall hike then they will know which to take you to depending on the weather. Me and a girl I met hired a tuk tuk and was driven up the mountains where we got to witness the beauty of Sri Lanka’s countryside.

The weather was overcast but that did not take away the shine of blossoming tea plantations around every corner.

“How much you pay?”. Kandy market is a great playground for your bartering skills. Always half whatever price they make first and go from there because they will try to rip you off massively. So stay savvy. I tried on a gorgeous orange sari which is a part of their traditional women’s clothing in Sri Lanka. I immediately wanted to go to a Sri Lankan wedding so I had an excuse to buy one!

Don’t fall! Now for the famous train ride from Kandy to Ella…