This trip has been a long time coming. In September 2019 I got a full-time casual job which looked to be more stable than my previous part-time and/or casual and/or short-term work. I talked to my manager about the possibility of taking casual time off in September 2020 for an overseas holiday, and she agreed. By March 2020 my wife and I had generally agreed on two weeks in South Korea and two weeks in Europe. Then COVID travel restrictions happened.
Once restrictions were eased, we started planning again. In between, my causal job was reclassified as permanent ‘cos I’m awesome, which entitles me annual leave with full pay (4 weeks, for Australians). We decided to skip Europe and spend a month in Korea. We chose January because my work is a bit slower in January, plus there are several public holidays as well as my annual leave. My wife and her colleagues decided to shut their restaurant for the duration, to the disappointment of some customers, but they need a break after working very, very hard for a long, long time (with no annual leave allowance). My wife grumbled a bit about visiting in deep winter, but we’ll go at different times on future trips. I love the cold weather. I originally assumed that Lunar New Year/Seollal would fall after we left (because of the lunar calendar), but was pleased to find that it falls very early next year, and will be a few days before we leave.
We investigated hotels in the Jongno/Eulji/Dongdaemun area but a brother and a friend of my wife offered accommodation in two different middle-range suburbs of greater Seoul, which means I will have to spend varying amounts of time on trains rather than actually doing things. But some things will be more convenient; her friend lives one station from a major historical site which is high on my list of things to do. My list is actually longer than the number of days we’ll be there. And that’s not counting the social engagements at short notice that will no doubt happen once my wife is there and contacting people. And that’s only in and around Seoul, with a few day and overnight trips. Several suggestions for a 3-4 day trip further afield have been left by the wayside.
Once I get there, I will give all monetary amounts in KRW. For reference, the exchange rate for major currencies today is KRW10,000 = GBP6.53 = EUR7.39 = USD7.86 = CAD10.63 = AUD11.68. (If you can’t remember that, the first approximation is KRW10,000 = more or less 10 of those.)
This blog is mostly anonymous (at least to people who don’t otherwise know who I am), which means that I can’t directly identify anyone else. I will refer to my wife as ‘J’, which is the initial of English name she sometimes uses. Everyone else will be some family or friend of hers or friend of mine, and/or initials. The first three are her brother DS and sister-in-law MH and friend HK. I will update when I can, but it may not be every day. There will be photos.
The last few days have been a combination of getting things done and not becoming too overwhelmed (with greater or lesser success).
I have already set the alarm for 5 am tomorrow. The temperature in Sydney will be approaching 30 degrees by the time we leave, and will be below zero by the time we arrive at Incheon. Among other things, I need to pack suitable clothes in my carry-on.
Meanwhile, photos of my previous stays in 2006-09 and 2015-16 can be found here and here.