My wife and I went on vacation to Korea (South) and Kyushu (Japan) in April. This was a last minute change of plan after our trip to Tibet had to be canceled due to the political strife there.
We spent a week traveling down the peninsula from Seoul to Busan, then took the hydrofoil ferry over to Fukuoka on Kyushu, spent a week on the southernmost island of Japan, and then back to Korea for another week working our way back up the peninsula.
When we tell people we went to Korea, most make the lame joke "North or South?". Which indicates how little Americans really know about Korea -- they know there was a war, and that the country is still split in two, and little more. The image of Korea in the US is totally overshadowed by its neighbors, Japan and China.
People in Korea were generally very helpful and friendly, in several cases going out of their way to give us a hand. Hard to hold conversations with most of them, of course, which was a particular shame in the case of a guy who gave us a ride in his car for 20 miles when we'd missed a bus by 5 minutes.
Highlights for me include:
- hiking in Seorak-san National Park in Korea
- hiking Aso-san volcano on Kyushu
- hot sand bath on the beach in Beppu (Japan)
- the statue of the Buddha outside Imcheon (Korea)
- seeing a Shinto wedding by chance at a shrine in Fukuoka, 2 hours before catching the ferry back to Busan
- listening to and watching Buddhist monks chant during a ceremony at Tongdo-sa temple (Korea)
Various collections of pictures are available at our website:
Also, I recently went to a scientific conference in Melbourne AU and a few pictures from that trip (including a 2 day road trip with 2 guys named Elliot) are at
. Even in winter, the city and its surroundings are very pretty. And of course the Australians are almost pathologically friendly and outgoing.