When I landed at the Incheon Airport in Seoul, South Korea, the first thing I noticed was the movement and the noise. The cities in Korea never sleep, never pause, never take a moment. There was a whirr of city buses and express inter-city buses as soon as I left the glass enclosure of the baggage claim.
This country has a five-thousand year history, and sometimes it’s covered up under modern buildings and new construction, but you can always find the beauty and ancientness of the country hiding. The high speed KTX trains are great if you want to get somewhere fast, but not so much if you want to see what’s going on at the ground level. Sometimes riding the KTX, I felt as though I was in a different world entirely disconnected from what I wanted to experience in Korea.
One of the things I loved about Korea was its cheap and easy hotel stays. It seemed like I could always get a decent place to stay that was within my budget and not too weird. (Though, on occasion, I did end up in some pretty weird places.) I always felt really safe in Korea. It’s a country where people are genuinely pretty good about welcoming guests, and so even if I had a concern about my safety, the curly haired grandma downstairs would look out for me.
I started my trip in Seoul and I made a circuit of most of the country. It’s pretty easy to do with the easy transportation, but there is so, so much to see. One needs a whole month of continuous backpacking to even attempt to get to all the cool cultural sites and neat cities. My favorite parts of my trip, though, were visiting remote temples out in the mountains. Don’t get me wrong! I loved the cities and the hustle and bustle of these amazing people, but there’s a reason why it’s called The Land of the Morning Calm. There are so many amazing temples hidden away in the mountains, on the sea, and all over the place. They are absolutely worth seeing, and they never get old.Two of my favorite temple visits were to Magoksa and Tapsa. Just so you know, the “sa” at the end of the name is actually the word for Temple. You can pick temple locations out that way. Both Magoksa and Tapsa are way off the beaten path, and don’t usually attract hordes of tourists. Tapsa is especially attractive, since the whole temple is built in a huge cleft in a mountain. A fine mist covers the entire place, and rock towers climb up and up through the crack in the mountain until they meet an impressive building watching the pilgrims below.
Natalya Pobedova is a travelling nomad and backpacker from beautiful Brno Czech Republic. She is 27 and makes a living as a freelance web developer to support her traveling needs. She also runs a budget flight search website for backpackers as a hobby:http://www.travelsiders.com/. She dreams of visiting Brazil and speaks Portuguese fluently. She visited 14 countries already and most of them are in Asia and Europe.
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