Kat: We’ve encountered a number of Guinness World Record holders in Korea. We’ve been to the closest train station to a beach. Listened to Psy’s record-breaking YouTube video Gangnam Style (if you haven’t seen it yet, you must be living in the Antarctic). And now we’ve been to the world’s biggest department store. Shinsegae shopping mall.
Autumn in South Korea is one of the best times to visit. It’s not too hot or cold, and you’re treated to the most amazing display of colours. Over the past month I’ve visited two temples in the local region in order to shoot the autumn leaves. That’s fall for those of you who don’t speak proper English! It’s difficult to get a clear shot in Korea because of the high rise developments. There are apartment complexes even in the countryside. But temples provide a beautiful park space combined with oriental architecture.
Kat: On the weekend I visited Tongdosa Temple as another meetup with Ulsan photographers. I’ve been leaf chasing this season with the beautiful autumn colours (that’s fall, for you non-English speakers!). Temples offer a unique opportunity to photograph the seasonal changes next to oriental architecture. And it’s often difficult to get a clean landscape shot in Korea, because they’re often blocked by electrical wires, ugly apartment buildings and inconvenient town planning.
Kat: One of the greatest Korean inventions is the DIY table top BBQ. Imagine piles upon piles of beef delivered to your table with copious side servings of salad, garlic and chili sauce. That’s bulgogi. It’s my favourite Korean food, simple as it is. Mmmm… bulgogi, as Homer Simpson would say.
Kat: Seoraksan National Park is the highlight of many itineraries in South Korea. It’s easy to see why, with the crystal clear waters splashing through enormous granite valleys. I always knew I wanted to go there during my time in Korea, and the opportunity came up with the 5 day Chuseok holiday.
Travelling to Gangneung
Kat: This October we got five days off work to celebrate Chuseok. Chuseok is Korean thanksgiving, when everyone goes back to their homes to visit family, eat lots of rice cakes and for kids to mooch money off relatives. During Chuseok the trains sell out, roads are packed with traffic and buses take a long time on major highways. We booked train tickets on the day they came out, so we got seats, but other people had to stand up on the train. We used the holiday to go right up to the northernmost corner of Korea, Gangwon province. Gangwon is a coastal area which borders the East sea and the DMZ. It is the only split province in South Korea.
Kat: It’s been an exciting week at Monkey HQ! We hosted our very first Couch Surfer. Couch Surfing is an international community of travellers who practice hospitality by putting people up in their homes for a couple of nights. It might seem somewhat scary to invite a stranger into your house, especially off the internet, but Couch Surfing has a great system of vouching and feedback (a bit like ebay). So we met Edgar, a lovely guy from the Philippines who is also a travel writer and photographer. Edgar blogs at Eazytraveler, which really captures his chilled out nature.