Overall, it was a wonderful trip, and had some quality family time with my mom and aunt. A few things that I’ve learned:
I really should’ve invested in a good travel guide, like the Tokyo one. It’s very important to have a local map, with all the marked points of interest, and I would not be standing on the street and looking at my GPS. The biggest problem was google map does not work perfectly in Korea, not sure why.
When I was doing the research for this trip, there was a big disconnection between all the Chinese information and English information I’ve got. Since Chinese information has all the names in Hanja, and English information has all the names romanized. I couldn’t connect them at all. Luckily all the train stations have names in three format: English, Hangul, and Hanja. It wasn’t until later in my trip that I could finally connect them together, because the romanization pronunciation are somewhat similar to Chinese.
Without any reading knowledge of Korean characters(Hangul), it was hard for me to stay completely calm. For example, when we returned to Gapyeong ferry terminal from Nami Island, I wanted to find a restaurant for lunch. NONE of the restaurants has signs in English or Chinese. I walked into a restaurant, and it was not something I wanted to eat. So I gave up, and bought sandwiches at 7-11.
Myeongdong is such a good location for tourists, just like Nanjing Rd. in Shanghai. You’ll have access to all the shops and restaurants that have English/Chinese signs/menus. All tourist areas have English/Chinese/Japanese speaking volunteers standing on the street to help you out, kudos to Korea Tourism Organization!
The portable wifi router – WiBro from olleh is a must. Rental process is very simple. I didn’t even need to make reservation before arrival. It helped me a lot during the trip, finding directions, finding restaurants, etc. The battery of these wibro lasts about 10 hours, and it’s just about the right time that we would call it a day.
Android App – Daum Maps: I installed this app because reviews mentioned it’s much better than Google map. Well, it was good and powerful app, but since I cannot read Korean, it was not useful to me.
Android App – Korea, Seoul Metro Navi: Very useful app if you use subway/train stations in Seoul. User interface is in English, clean, simple, and very informative.
Android App – Korean Translator/Dictionary: it didn’t work for me. Most sales in Seoul could speak a little bit of English. The only time that I’ve used this app was at Dongdaemun, a clothing shop, and the sales did not understand what was translated in the app. LOL…
Android App – qyer.com (穷游锦囊): it lays out all my itineraries, not bad.
hanyouwang.com: a Korea tourist information web site in Chinese language. It was very useful for me to find places to eat!
It felt quite differently to watch Korean drama without subtitles in the hotel. I got to watch “The Heirs” almost every night. Without subtitles, I paid closer attention to the language and their acting, oh yah, Lee Min-Ho is super handsome!
A snapshot of Heirs: