You’re going wrong somewhere if South Korea isn’t on your travel bucket list.
Food in South Korea
‘No, no,’ I go again, “I want this country food! Local food, where best?” Frantically waving my hands all over the place and making every kind of gesture that there is, little do I realise that talking slowly will help them realise what I’m asking as much as singing to them will – not at all. The lady stared apologetically as I flashed her a wide smile so she knew it was alright. So here I was, in Myeongdong. People rushed past me in lively chatters, and through a maze of heads, I finally caught a glimpse of a promising-looking poster, “SPECIALS: DONKAS AND KALGUKSU!!”
N Seoul Tower
Almost rubbing my tummy, I walked out of the Myeongdong Gyoja. I clenched the little packets of Lotte xylitol gum – the ones they served before the meal – in my hand. Inside, I’d found a man of very few (English) words, and now I knew that my next destination would be the N Seoul Tower. As I stood in Itaewon Station in line for Bus 3, unknown faces smiled and nodded at me – something very rare almost anywhere I’d been.
I’d been told that Korea was a good place to visit – but each and every one of these people were wrong. Korea was splendid, breathtaking, nevertheless underrated. Nowhere had I seen so much authenticity and modernism together, in the scope of my eyesight. Atop the Tower, people were needle pins, and trees were mere shrubbery. As the dark set in, Seoul was suddenly wide awake. Lights were turned on, and daylight merged into the clouds and dove in behind the mountains. Seoul at night had an intoxicating effect I can’t describe.
Yangdong Folk Village
The next morning, I found myself dozing off on a bus ride to a folk village I couldn’t remember the name of. Only partly cloudy, the Seoul sky melted into the Han River beside which, just yesterday, I’d had a good old-fashioned picnic with a family from the city. Besides the extraordinary view and the sumptuous chicken, bonus points to Korea for their willingness to deliver food anywhere without sneakily hinting you to tip them.
I then learnt from that one child that was keeping passengers awake with his excited screams, that we were going to Yangdong Folk Village. When the bus got there, signboards beamed with pride, as they proclaimed the village to be a UNESCO site. The landscape was dotted with little houses – hanok style, they were called. A man walked up to me and assured us that because Prince Charles of Wales visited here in 1993, ‘we was in best place!’ And I couldn’t agree more. At Yangdong, we spent our days learning and talking to the locals, who showed us their traditional way of life. On some days we even saw the elders smashing rice with wooden maillots and making ‘ddeok’. I think they might have seen my eyebrows squinting in curiosity and confusion, so they let me have a swing or two at it.
You know that inexplicable pleasure that they say is intertwined with travel? Not only have I read this an endless number of times, but now I can scream it out from the Biryong – but the relentless vigour of water that gives the “Flying Dragon” waterfall its mighty character; would nevertheless drown me out.
Towering almost protectively over the valley, these serene mountains draped with an emerald veil, could take my enthusiastic screams to places where someone, somewhere, sipping tea in delicate crockery, would know – even if they don’t understand my exact words – that there was someone out there that was thrilled to be in Korea.
Visa details for Indians visiting South Korea
You are supposed to get TEMPORARY VISIT (C-3) Visa if you are going to stay for a short period of time for tourism (Must not be for profit). The fees for single entry visa is Rs. 2640 and the visa is valid for 90 days. It takes a minimum of 5 days for the processing for normal visa while 2 days for express visa. You can get more details at their official website.
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