So Here's what happened in Korea.
First, the 3 people I went with are not good friends. I see 2 of them maybe once a month at most, usually by chance. 1 of them used to be in the same class as me but as I switched to the morning class last January I don't see her anymore. The 3rd person is her friend and I've only met her a couple of times.
They wanted to go somewhere for Golden Week which if I didn't explain it before it's the silliest holiday in the world. The reason is that EVERYBODY IN JAPAN HAS IT OFF. That's not true. Service people, retail, chain food−service etc are not off. But, almost everybody else is. That means the entire country is traveling the same week. I suppose American's have the same problem in America during Christmas or Thanksgiving but I don't think it's quite as bad as Japan.
There are record length traffic Jams. It can take 4 to 5 times as long to get somewhere by car during Golden Week as it does at normal times. On top of which travel prices more than double. Especially within Japan as people are traveling to see their family.
Anyway my friends wanted to go somewhere so they argued about it for a while. Thailand? 1 person said "No Way". Vietnam? Another "not me!" etc, etc. Finally they decide on Hong Kong. We check it out, it's more than double the normal price. $1400 for a 5 day vacation vs the usual $600. I've got nothing better to do and I don't have alot of options for time to go somewhere so I'm down with that but the two girls say it's out of their price range.
So, more arguing and finally they settle on Okinawa but they argue for nearly half an hour whether it should be 4 days or 5 half way through, fed up that they can't decide, I walk out. They finally settled that I guess They check into it, everything is sold out.
They contact me a few days later and say we are going to Korea. It will cost $810 each for 4 days, 3 nights. I'm thinking, "Fine, I guess I should do something other than stay in Tokyo" so I fork over the $810.
It turns out that $810 only covers the hotel and the airfare to Inchon, the brand new international airport in Seoul. Actually it's 50km outside of Seoul. So, the day goes like this. Wake up at 5am, get to Shinjuku by 6am for a $35 90 minute ride to Narita Airport. Get on the plane at 9:30am, arrive at Inchon at 11:30am. Take a bus, $4 to Ginpo Airport (the old Seoul Airport) which in Korean Airline's infinite wisdom, all internation flights come and go from Inchon, all internal flights are from Ginpo making all international flights by Korean Air that want to go somewhere other than Seoul a pain in the ass. It's almost an hour to Ginpo. This is where I find out that these tickets have not yet been bought since supposedly they have tons of flights. They do, one like every 20 minutes. We get 3pm flight for another $140. 1 hour to Jeju airport and then another hour by bus to the opposite side of the island where our hotel is. It's now 5pm. Total time, 12 hours!!! I was told by my Japanese friend that normally you'd fly from Hanada (about 40 minutes from Shinjuku instead of 90 minutes to Narita) and from there to Kyushu and then to Jeju. If it was direct it would probably be 2.5 hours.
So, 4 days 3 nights became 3 nights, 2 days. That's okay though because generally it was not that fun since they were not good friends.
I'm not sure how it was decided where to go. My guess is that as everything else was sold out and the Korean friend suggested Cheju island because he had not been there before. Of course he's from Seoul or near Seoul so he didn't want to go there. I guess the girls agreed because they just wanted to go somewhere not Tokyo. But,... As soon as the day started they lobbied to try to get him to change our plans so we could go to Seoul. They brought this up about once ever 2 hours the entire first 2 days. It was very annoying.
Then, this is just to be expected I guess but Cheju is supposed to be a resort island kind of like Hawaii. It did have a similar feeling in many ways except the weather didn't cooperate. I don't think I've ever experienced cold (have to wear a coat) weather in Hawaii but it was cold and rainy the day we arrived and colder the next day.
I did get to see a cool temple and this interesting road by the ocean where people were selling dried squids by the side of the road. Maybe I'll post some pictures.
That night I also got to eat *special* pig. I wanted to try dog but the girls wouldn't have it. So, our Korean friend lead us to a *special* pig place. He said he wouldn't tell us until after dinner what was special about the pig. The girls suspected it was really dog but it looked like pig to me.
Anyway, it turns out that it's pig that's been fed mostly human feces!!! I'm glad I didn't know before I ate it. It tasted fine but I don't think I could have eaten it knowing what they ate. Our Korean friend said that it's considered a delicacy and it's expensive because many of the pigs can't handle it and die.
Another Korean friend, when I told her where I was taken, said that it started a long time ago when people used to have the pigs live under the toilet back when toilets were just a hole in the floor.
The next day was sunnier and 2 of the friends wanted to go SCUBA diving. I actually wanted to go too but I wasn't 100% over my cold so I opted out and 2 of us just watched. That was cool though.
The other thing that made it uncomfortable. 2 of the friends. The Korean guy and the Taiwanese girl had recently become boyfriend/girlfriend. A fact that they had not announced and were trying to hide (for what reason I'm not sure). It became fairly clear (at least to me) during the first day out and later that night when they excused themselves for a few hours for you know what. And also the next night when he begged for about an hour to go out again (thinking I didn't notice) Anyway, it was a little akward feeling for some reason. Maybe because it was one couple and then one extra girl and one extra guy (me). Hopefully you get the picture.
There was one other issue. The other girl was probably the LOUDEST person I've ever met. At least 50% of the time she was talking is was like she was trying to talk above the music in a club except we were not in a club and there was no music. She wasn't shouting but it was nearly as loud even though the girl she was talking to was like 2 feet away. And she likes to laugh a very loud but kind of in a "I don't know what to say so I'll laugh instead" kind of way but it's to the point that you feel like you can never have a serious conversation with her (like when we were trying to decide on a place to go or a place to eat etc) She does this about every 3rd sentence. Whatever.
She also has some kind of gambling addiction where twice a week she HAS TO make a call to some bookey (maybe it's a lottery). Absolutely HAS to. We ended up waiting about 45 minutes for her to make the call at some garden we had finished looking at.
On top of that, the two girls speak Chinese (mandarin) and they were jabbering away to each other the whole time. There's nothing wrong with that except that meant no conversation for me.
Oh yea, getting the 2 girls through the airports was nearly impossible. Anytime we passed by any place selling something they had to stop. At least 1/2 the time we'd have been looking at the stores already, we'd all meet up to go to the plane/bus, start walking there, get to the entrance only to notice the girls had disappeared un−announced into some shopping area.
Another example, I wonder if this is a Taiwanese thing, a Chinese thing, an Asian thing, a girl thing or just a these 2 girls thing but for example we went shopping in one of the larger cities on the island. We walked into the first store which was probably no bigger than 12x12 feet. It was an accessory store (pins, bracelets, barets, ..) They girls spent 40 minutes in there!!! We were only going to be in the city for 1 hour and there were probably 50 to 80 stores to see and it wasn't like the accesories were anything special. All stuff you can find in any accessory store in Japan or America. Neither me nor the Korean guy got it. To took us about 2 to 3 minutes per store max to notice if there was anything we were interested in or not including the accessory store. I've gone shopping with girls before. I've never seen anything like that.
Well, it's over. Thank you. I know next time to pick my travel partners better 😞
I'll probably put up a page about some of it later. Unfortunately although I took alot of pictures I don't feel I took enough to make that interesting of a page but maybe...