By Nina Sabin - Travel
We love the Asian countries. The reason for this is the weather is always comfortable, the food is delicious, the people are amazingly friendly, and most of all it is very economical to travel through Asia. Our first repat took us to Asia when we did our ‘Infamous Asian Tour’ and explored Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and finished that trip in California. Three years later, we were ready to journey again through Asia. This time we explored the countries of South Korea and Japan. As with each of our repats, we usually finished our trips in the US since that is our home country. This time we finished out trip in Hawaii.
The definition of repat is a person going back to their home country. Each year we were required to plan a trip from Saudi to our home country – or at least to get out of Saudi Arabia.
As we have mentioned often in our blogs, we were so blessed to have a ‘once-in-a-life-time trip’ about every 3-4 months. Since we were Saudi for over 16 years we saw an incredible amount of the world. That is why we claim to be experienced world travelers. Even after being out of Saudi now for a little over a year, we still are being blessed to travel. Check out or Vlogs on What’s Next with John and Nina to find out where we are currently traveling.
Now, back to this ‘Amazing Asian Adventure’ Blog. As with most of our trips from Saudi we would usually have a flight in the late evening or night as well as a layover. Most trips involve a full day of traveling at the beginning. It took us almost 20 hours of traveling to get to Seoul, Korea. One of the other challenges with traveling is getting used to the time difference. Korea is six hours ahead of Saudi; which means it is 14 hours ahead of USA eastern time. This is why our bodies struggle with jet lag. They have to get used to time differences.
Each day for us on a vacation is an adventure. Korea had some fascinating sites to visit. We always try to find the highest place in the city so we can get the most amazing views. In Seoul, this is at the Namsan Park which is the center of the city with great views. At 900 feet we saw the North mountain, the entire city and the Han river. There is also a cable car on the northwest side of the hill that we took down to the city along peaceful forest paths.
The main attraction that we focused on in Korea was the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). Korea is the only divided country in the world. After the Korean War (June 25, 1950), South Korea and North Korea negotiated and then designated the DMZ two km away from the truce line on each side of the border. As one of the last relics of the Cold War, the DMZ peaks tourists’ curiosity. Within the DMZ there is the Third Infiltration Tunnel and the Dora Observation Platform.
The Third Infiltration Tunnel was first discovered by Kim Bu-seong, a North Korean who defected in 1975. It is two meters wide and 1,635 meters long, and has the capacity to infiltrate 10,000 armed soldiers into the South in an hour. When visiting the tunnel, we had to store all of your belongings except your valuables and camera in a locker at the entrance of the tunnel. We were told that photographing in the tunnel is strictly prohibited. Before entering the tunnel, we had to put on a helmet as to avoid hitting our head as the ceiling of the tunnel is very low.
After walking through the tunnel, we watched a film featuring the weaponry and various items that were used during the Korean War providing a glimpse into the daily life in North Korea.
Since the weather was so nice while we were visiting the DMZ, we were able to go to the Dora Observation Platform where we could view the city of Gaesesong in North Korea without binoculars.
The last important site at the DMZ that we visited was the medicinal water fountain called ‘manghyangsu (Water of Nostalgia)’ not only does it soothes the grief of those who have lost their hometown but also quenched our thirst. This is a memorable experience so - don’t forget to drink some before leaving.
One amazing opportunity we couldn’t miss sharing was attending a 800,000 member Pentecostal church, Yoido Full Gospel. The church is mammoth and called a megachurch. It is preached in Korean, but they provide headphones for other languages. The most memorable part was having real wine at communion. My mother-in-law never really drinks wine, so she was pretty shocked to taste real wine at this church. However, to me it pretty authentic like during Jesus’ time.
We finished our time in South Korea by exploring the Korean Folk Village. There we experienced the true culture of Korea. It provides realistic and interesting display of Korean folk life. Reconstructed houses and rural life with tradition folk music and a wedding ceremony.
In our next blog, we will continue taking you on our Amazing Asian Adventure as we travel through Japan. You won’t want to miss that blog!!
Also don't forget we have the 7-day South Korea itinerary for sale. All the planning is done for you. Just tailor to your dates and then go enjoy Korea.