Japan snow season family holiday tips

Japan snow season family holiday tips

Are you a winter person? Is skiing a thing your family loves to do? Why limit yourself to your home slopes when you can visit Japan one of the world premier skiing destinations for singles, couples and families. A snow holiday in the Japan snow season will provide you with great skiing and immerse you in a unique and ancient culture.

Japan Ski Season

Located in the northern hemisphere winter in Japan runs December through February. The Japan ski season runs from mid-to-late December and goes through until late March or early April. Obviously, with different resorts and regions, the time and length of the Japan Ski season can vary. To be safe and catch the best conditions for skiing January – February is recommended.

 

Skiing and snowboarding in Japan

This close Asian neighbour makes the land of the rising sun a prime destination for families who love skiing. The Japan snow season is known for some of the best powder skiing in the world. Someone recently asked us ‘does it snow in Japan?’ The winter snowfall is renowned for its great skiing qualities. The ski resorts receive an average of 10 to 18 metres of snow per season. There is no better activity than skiing for a family holiday in Japan.

Cost of Skiing in Japan

I think there is a misconception that Japan Ski holidays are an expensive activity to undertake. Skiing in Japan today can be considered to be very inexpensive compared to Europe, USA, Canada and Australia. Features and facilities such as lift tickets are significantly cheaper. There are even family-friendly resorts have good budget accommodation options and well priced affordable meal options during the skiing season.

Getting to the Japan Snow Season

These days flying to Japan from Australia is a simple thing. There are many carriers, full service and budget, that will fly you daily to your japan family holiday destination. You will find Japan Airlines, ANA (All Nippon Airways), Qantas and Jetstar fly directly. You can fly from Melbourne to Tokyo in around 9 hours and 50 minutes for your Ski Holiday.

The average flying time from the United States of America to Japan is 13 hours.  ANA ( All Nippon Airways ) Japan Airlines, United Airlines and American airlines fly directly to Japan from choice destinations in the USA.

Flights from the United Kingdom, London to Japan take around 12 hours and 25 minutes to reach Toyko. ANA, Japan Airlines and British Airlines fly direct from London to Tokyo. From other UK destination, you will need to transit through London.

snowboarders going down a snow run Japan snow season

Travel tips for Japan

The Japanese are known worldwide as an incredibly polite race of people. It is always important to embrace this culture whilst in skiing in Japan. Politeness needs to extend to appropriate behaviour in the streets, restaurants and bars. “Please” and “Thank You” are essentials words to learn in Japanese. We have always found that if you make the effort to speak even just the basic few words it will be appreciated. A few things to avoid at all costs that will offend the Japanese are as follows.

  • Please never walk on a tatami mat wearing shoes or even slippers. Japanese houses, apartments and Japanese style hotel rooms will have a genkan, a changing area. In this room, you take your shoes off while standing in the genkan,
  • Never leave your chopsticks standing upright in a bowl of rice. This can be insulting as in Japanese culture this is how rice is offered to the dead.
  • Never enter a bathtub without washing up first.
  • Avoid physical contact in public. You will not see Japanese people kissing or hugging. The Japanese are not known for public affection.

Culture is especially important if you have kids. Exposing your kids to different cultures and lifestyles is great for there growth educationally. When kids observe different cultures it makes them learn that things are different all around the world. This helps kids grow as people and become more accepting adults.

Travel safety in Japan

Japan is one of the safest countries to travel in. Theft or violent crime is very rare and extremely low by international standards. As with anywhere it always pays to be aware of your surroundings and careful with your personal belongings. You will find petty crimes like pickpocketing high in areas where there are lots of Westerners. Street crime is extremely rare, even late at night. Women travelling alone should take care as they would in their home countries and should never hitchhike alone.

Money in Japan

The Yen is the Japanese currency. Strangely enough for a society on the cutting edge of electronics and technology Japan is very reliant upon cash. Credit cards are not widely accepted for many things, yet access to cash is not always easy to access.  There are lots of ATMs, but not all accept foreign cards. You will need to mindful of your forward planning and have cash readily available to you. You may find you have to pay cash for lift tickets and ski hire. The good old Post Offices in Japan have extremely efficient ATMs. When the Post Office is closed look for a 7-11 store. This multinational have their own bank which accepts foreign cards in their ATMs. Let your kids look at the money and even pay for things with it. It’s a great learning experience and will help with their maths while you are on holiday.

ski lessons being taught in japan. Frozen trees and cable cars japan snow season

Ski Gear For Winter in Japan

Ski Gear to take for winter in Japan is not much different to many other parts of the northern hemisphere.The Hokkaido region can be bitterly cold at times. For Australian and New Zealand travellers, the winter in Japan temperatures is much colder than skiing back home. Top quality thermals will be required. We found woollen thermals to be the warmest. We also found fleece lined leggings for our kids were excellent in keeping them warm. A good quality ski/outdoor jacket by companies like Columbia, North Face, Jack Wolfskin will keep you dry and warm. A well-insulted beanie, neck warmer will keep the chilly winds at bay during the Japan snow season. Waterproof shoes and boots are imperative to keep your feet warm. Shoes with good grip are highly recommended for winter in Japan. It’s easy to be standing upright one minute and one the ground the next in the icy conditions of the Japan snow season. You can pick up your snow gear in Australia cheaper at the end of the Australian winter.

Children Learning to Ski

A lot of the Japanese ski resorts cater for children with kids skiing and boarding programs. Most of these ski schools have a policy of kids must wear a helmet as safety is a priority.  Your children will be taught the basic skills in the Japan ski fields that will give them a great platform to build on in the coming years. As well as skiing many resorts include other activities for kids including a snow park playground, snow bubble ball, snowmobile and snow rafting.

We hope our practical information and tips help you and your family ski Japan with kids. There are many holiday packages available for your family. We hope you have a great time in the Japan ski fields.

 

 

 

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Kyoto Nara Osaka – Kansai with Kids

Kyoto Nara Osaka – Kansai with Kids

Kansai with Kids

Today’s guest post comes from Jason Jenkins who hosts the greatly popular Epic Education family Podcasts and blogs at Epic Education. Jason is a great bloke who I have chatted with regularly, we have appeared as his guest on his podcast which you can listen to here. Jason and his family spent many years living in Asia.

Any trip to Japan should include some time in Kansai with kids. The entire archipelago is an amazing place to explore with children, but many of its most interesting corners are missed. The streets of Tokyo, the shrines of Kyoto and the memorial in Hiroshima should all be seen first-hand. However, Japan has much more for travelling families.

A full list of recommendations is beyond the scale of one post, so instead, I’ll just touch on a few of my favourite things to do in Kansai with kids. Home to cities such as Kyoto, Nara and Osaka, the Kansai region of Japan is a fascinating place full of family fun.

Kansai with kids – Nara Park Japan

Japan’s first capital doesn’t get the attention bestowed on its neighbours to the north. However, no visit to Kansai with kids would be complete without an afternoon in Nara, and it’s quite easy to reach from other cities in Kansai

Todaiji Temple

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This ancient structure is the recipient of numerous superlatives, including world’s oldest wooden building and home to a 500-ton bronze Buddha. The Todaji Temple is also one of the most interesting temple grounds to visit with kids. Its gargantuan interior is populated with other massive objects, such as larger-than-life wooden gods and a specific wooden pillar with a hole in its base. Those who can fit through the hole, it is said, receive enlightenment, but don’t expect to go through yourself: Only children can really fit.

Kansai with kids

The deer in the Nara Park Japan

In Nara Park surrounding Todaiji temple, you’ll find deer so tame and confident that they’ll grab the snacks right out of your hands. Seriously. These creatures are basically harmless and the kids will enjoy feeding them, but it can be a little scary for little ones. Make sure to keep all food stored in your packs or you may find it in a deer’s mouth before you know it.

Kansai with kids – Things to do in Kyoto Japan

Any visit to Kansai with kids includes a day or two in Kyoto, but don’t just stick to the temples and shrines. Kyoto offers families much more than heritage sites.

Traditional Sweets Class, Kyoto kids attractions.

The flavours and textures of traditional Japanese sweets may be new to your kids. Whether you like it or not (my kids LOVE them) it’s hard to deny their beauty. They’re also a lot of fun to make. You and the kids can learn to make these sweet little jewels at a variety of confectionaries around the city.

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The steps to Kifune Temple — part of a great day-hike outside Kyoto

Philosopher’s Path

Kyoto is a town made for long, pondering walks. This two-kilometer stretch north of the city isn’t to be traversed for its “wow” factor, but more because of the peaceful calm and quirky shops encountered along the way. For parents of small children, keep in mind that there are long stretches of the path near the creek without a guardrail.

2 Hour historic walking tour.

Take a walking tour in an old capital of Japan, Kyoto. Enjoy walking for two hours from Yasaka Shrine to Kiyomizu Temple, one of the most popular ways of exploring Kyoto.

For more information and booking details about this amazing walk click HERE.

Hiking from Kibune to Kurama

Less than an hour north of Kyoto by train is one of my favourite family hikes. The trail from the village Kibune to its counterpart on the other side of Kurama mountain takes only a few hours at the most leisurely of paces and is easily navigable by even primary schoolers. Just be careful on the Kurama side. The stone steps there are more civilised but occasionally slippery.

Kansai with kids – Things to do in Osaka

On its surface, Osaka isn’t a particularly beautiful city. Many of its citizens don’t come across as poised or sophisticated, and the drinking and dining scene can be quite loud and uncouth. Yet despite this rough exterior, Osaka is an amazing place to eat, drink, explore, and make friends.

Kansai with kids

The playground inside Kids Plaza in Osaka

Kids Plaza

This interactive science museum is right downtown and will keep little ones busy for hours. The English explanations on exhibits are spotty, but the scientific principles being demonstrated are easy to follow regardless of the language. It’s quite a big place, so make sure to divide your time in order to see it all. Our kids really enjoy the TV Studio exhibit and the amazing indoor playground.

Osaka hop on hop off bus tour.

Take in the city of Osaka from an open top, sightseeing bus. There are 13 bus stops in the route and you can easily access major sightseeing spots from each bus stop. Your 2-day ticket provides unlimited access to all stops, allowing you to hop off when you want to explore more.

Book your hop on hop off tickets HERE.

Dotonbori

You know this one — you’ve seen the pictures. This vibrant shopping and nightlife district is even more vivid than any image that a Google search can pull up. Just keep in mind that many of the restaurants close at 10 pm or earlier.

Kansai with kids

The neon of Dotonbori in downtown Osaka

 

Spa world / Shinsekai

The Japanese onsen (hot spring) experience can be a soothing and almost sacred affair. A trip to Spa World is something completely different. Wild, loud and garishly decorated, this 5-floor indoor waterpark has gender-specific floors to explore regional-themed tubs, while the roof has glassed-in waterslides and a lazy river. It’s all heated in winter, which has made it part of our family’s New Year tradition. Classy it ain’t, but hey, neither are we.

Have you been to Kansai with kids?

Where did you go? What fun did you find? Visiting Kansai with kids is much more than Osaka, Kyoto and Nara. There are other major cities like Kobe and Wakayama, but there are also amazing mountains, beaches and other natural surroundings to explore. Tell us where you enjoyed!


Wyld Family Travel chooses Hotels Combined for all our accommodation needs

5 reasons Changi Airport is the best in the world

5 reasons Changi Airport is the best in the world

With all the trips we have done Changi Airport in Singapore has been the one thing that we are able to rely on. We have always had a stop over in this wonderful Airport. When we went on our first trip we did not have the information that we do have now and when we tell people about the facilities that are available to them, most are extremely surprised. So here are some things that may help you if you have a stopover in the magnificent Changi Aiport.
Singapore Changi Airport

Have you flown through Changi Airport

1: You can have a shower at Singapore’s Changi Airport.

Yep, you read that right! After 12 hours plus without a shower I love that descent into Singapore. You do have to pay for your shower but after 12 hours and goodness knows how long more it is the best shower in the world. We have found that the gyms or the wellness centres are the places to go. The girls always love getting into their pj’s after a shower and waiting for the next leg to begin. If you are also inclined you can use the gyms and other facilities like massage, manicures, facials that they offer but all at a cost. The Singapore airport transit hotel has a price list that is available upon request.

2: Shopping Changi terminal 1 shops

If you want it, Changi will have it. There are so many shops that you can look in and try some of the things that they have.singaporech2 There is an abundance of shop assistants to help you chose or look for the product you want. There are not only alcohol and cosmetics there are also chocolate shops, confectionery, clothes, handbags and speciality brand name stores. For some products, you need to have your ticket with you and your passport. There is also a time restriction on how long before your flight you can purchase your item. If you are unsure ask anyone of the helpful assistants and they will help you.


singapore (1 of 1)
3: Abundance of restrooms.

This might seem like something that should be the norm for an airport of this size but these would have to be the most well maintained and cleaned toilets I have ever been to. We went to one that was out of the way and it was not the greatest, so there is the small screen you can alert cleaners to the mess that is in there. I did that and as we were walking out a crew of ladies were already on their way to fix it up. It is an amazing feet to keep that many restrooms clean with the amount of people going through there but it is done so well.

 

4: Kids stuff.

For us keeping the kids happy is hard after a long day and singapore (1 of 1)-2another leg still in front of them. Kids are well looked after in Changi,  The airport has plenty of play areas, a butterfly garden (I would go in there before your shower as it is very humid in there), a Koi pond and plenty of garden areas that they can look at. Our girls loved the Koi pond as the fish in there were quite happy to come up close to them. We spent a long time there as there was a small area we could sit down and watch the girls comfortably as they wandered safely around the pond. Last time we had a longer than usual stopover and decided to use the pool to wear the girls down a little more. They loved having a play in the pool for an hour

5: Food.

singaporeWhen we first went on our trip, fussy children were not in our sights at that stage! Now at Changi airport, there is plenty of different options for you to enjoy. From fast food outlets to small restaurants, there is something for everyone.

It is a good idea to do your homework before you leave and I suggest having a look at the website before you go to see what Changi can offer you. It is also a good idea to make sure that the things you want to see are within the terminals as some of the things we wanted to do were outside passport control so we decided not to do them. Getting from terminal to terminal is extremely easy with the monorail between them so you do have time to go and look in some of the others if there is something you would like to see in them
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All in all Changi Airport is a little world within its self and it is extremely easy to navigate for first-time travellers and the well-seasoned ones as well!

Airport Transfer.

Save money on expensive taxis by booking the official Singapore airport transfer with a generous luggage allowance. Simply make your way to the ground transportation desk, present your confirmation ticket and enjoy the ride to your city hotel!

Book your transfer now click HERE.

 

Ferris Wheel or Observation Wheel?

Ferris Wheel or Observation Wheel?

I recently learned that a Ferris wheel is not a Ferris wheel if it is a giant observation wheel. Yes, you heard me right a Giant Observation Wheel. Personally, I think its just a term to help distinguish and market the 4 Giant Observation Wheels worldwide that claim this title. These four wheels are located in Australia, Singapore, England and The United States of America. Can you guess the name of these wheels? So what is the difference you may ask between a Ferris Wheel and a Giant Observation Wheel? The below table sets out what separates a mere Ferris Wheel from a Giant Observation Wheel.

So who invented the Ferris Wheel you might ask? The original Ferris wheel was designed and constructed by the company Ferris. This wheel debuted for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The term Ferris wheel is used for all such structures. The Ferris Wheel is the most common type of amusement at fairs, carnivals and shows worldwide.

Ferris Wheel or Observation Wheel explained!
A Ferris Wheel or a Giant Observation wheel, Infographic on the difference of Ferris Wheel or Observation wheel

 

Now getting back to these four Giant Observation Wheels, The four are The Melbourne Star, The Singapore Flyer, The London Eye and The Las Vegas High Flyer. I have asked 3 other outstanding bloggers who have taken a trip on the Flyer, The Eye and the High Roller to tell us about their experience. I will complete the foursome with our experience on the Melbourne Star.

The Singapore Flyer by Marianne from Mum on the Move

Singapore-flyer

The Singapore Flyer was the world’s tallest observation wheel until the High Roller opened in Las Vegas on 31st March 2014. Regardless of its superlative status, the Singapore Flyer still stands at 165m tall, the height of a 42-storey building (or 31 male giraffes stacked on top of one another!) and offers fabulous views across Singapore and the surrounding islands.
SIngaporeFlyer1

The Singapore Ferris wheel provides amazing views

The wheel turns at a leisurely 0.21m per second, giving you plenty of opportunities to take in the unparalleled 360° views over the city and across to the surrounding islands during the 30-minute journey.
I know people can be sceptical that going around in a circle can be much fun, but my kids had a blast. They loved being able to spot all the places they knew, and the higher we climbed, the more excited they became!                                           On a clear day, it is possible to see 45km away from the top of the wheel which is 3km longer than the whole of Singapore. Please drop by and check out Mum on the Move

The  High Roller Vegas by Leslie at Trips with Tykes

High Roller - 2

Standing at 550 feet high, Las Vegas’s High Roller is the world’s largest observation wheel. It towers over the Strip at the LINQ Hotel, making a single revolution every half hour. It is slow enough for riders to hop into one of 28 fully-enclosed pod cabins as each one passes by the loading area. The bright lights visible along the Strip are breathtaking at night. This is definitely why the attraction charges increased fees after sunset. The good news for family travellers, however, is that kids 12 and under ride free at any hour.

High Roller - 4

The Las Vegas High Roller is the world’s largest Ferris Wheel

Because it’s in Vegas, there’s certainly a party scene available for those that seek it out, but most of the cabins offer a family-friendly atmosphere even after dark. On my family’s visit with a 6-year-old and 18 months old, most of our fellow passengers were families with kids. The children made fast friends and turned the ride on the High Roller observation wheel into an impromptu dance party while enjoying the music pumped into the cabin. Stop by Trips with Tykes for great articles on family travel

The London Eye by Karen from Mini Travellers

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The London Eye is 443 feet (135 m) tall and the wheel has a diameter of 394 feet (120 m). When the Eye was completed in 1999 it was the world’s tallest Ferris wheel. The Eye is Europe’s largest Ferris wheel. The Eye for a long time had the distinction of offering the highest public viewing point in London. In 2013 all that changed when the Shard building opened the viewing platform on the 72nd floor. The viewing platform stands at 804 feet.
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The London Ferris wheel sits on the bank of the Thames

 The London Eye is one of the best ways to see London and to appreciate where everything is. The Eyes is situated on the South Bank it is in a lovely location and well worth a trip.  If you haven’t booked tickets in advance (which I would recommend) go early.  My 5 year old enjoyed her time on the London Eye. In all honesty, I think she was too young to understand the perspective it gives you. She was more interested in the touchscreen monitors which tell you about what London landmark you can see. Children who are older will appreciate the sights more. There are also 241 tickets available for example from The Days Out Guide and with national rail tickets. The discount tickets can reduce the price from £21.50 each to two for £21.50.  Definitely worth doing. Stop by a see what Karen’s has been up to at Mini Travellers.
London Eye Tickets.

At 135 meters, the Coca-Cola London Eye is one of the world’s tallest observation wheels, offering breathtaking views of London and its famous landmarks. Your ticket includes new interactive guides powered by Samsung Galaxy Tab and an entry to the London Eye 4D Experience, an inspiring journey of discovery that brings London to life through multi-sensory special effects.

Book your tickets HERE.

The Melbourne Star

The Melbourne Star

The Giant Melbourne Star Observation Wheel is 120 metres high. The wheel has 7 spokes which represent the seven stars on the Australian flag.The Star comprises of more than 7.5 kilometres of steel tubing, weighing over 1736 tonnes. A trip on the Melbourne Star takes 30 minutes for a full journey around the wheel. The Melbourne Star is a located in the Docklands district of the city of Melbourne Australia. We visited The Melbourne Star on a very blustery Sunday. The kids had a mixed look of excitement and fear all rolled into one of their faces but once we were on the Star excitement took over!
The base of the Star

The Melbourne Star observation wheel was great fun

The staff on the boarding deck were extremely friendly and helpful with instructions and able to answer questions about your ride on the giant wheel. A nice touch is the P.A system that informs you of a monument, building or landmark to look for. The P.A gives you a rundown on the history of Melbourne. Information about the Star itself is featured during your journey. The Star is positioned so that you get a view of the bay area for the first half of the journey. The second half brings into view the Melbourne CBD.  The Star is not cheap that’s for sure with a family ticket going for around $90 AUD. The smart move is to check Living Social and Scoupon for specials that often come up.

Melbourne Star Tickets

Experience a single 30-minute flight in a fully enclosed, air-conditioned cabin that will take you 120 meters above Melbourne. The Melbourne Star Observation wheel is the only giant observation wheel in the Southern Hemisphere.

Book your tickets HERE.

Rainbow

 

So there you go, what’re your thoughts Ferris Wheel or Giant Observation Wheel?. I think Ferris Wheel.

Why I want to take my kids to Bali

Why I want to take my kids to Bali

The island of Bali lies just off the north coast of Australia. From Melbourne our nearest airport, it is a seven-hour flight with any number of airlines including Jetstar, AirAsia, Garuda Indonesia, Scoot, Virgin Australia and more. You see Bali is one of Australia’s favourite destinations, The cheap prices, good weather and attractions draw Australians to the island by the planeload every day.

We have many friends and family who travel to Bali regularly and swear by it. I have been to Bali briefly when I had a 7-hour stopover on my way to London in 1999. I remember visiting Nusa Dua and doing some shopping at a market before heading back to the airport. Everyone tells us how much the kids would love Bali. Everyone tells us how many activities and attractions there are for the kids to do. After a bit of research I think our kids would love the following attractions:

Waterbom Bali

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Waterbom Bali is set  in lush tropical garden. The park has many great rides and attractions.These water slides have names like Pipeline, Python and Green Viper just to name a few. Heart pumping water slides are featured throughout 3.8 hectares of this landscaped tropical theme park. Other attractions include the Euro Bungy and the Flow Rider. The Flow Rider looks awesome, you can ride a bodyboard and man-made wave. This attraction of water slides would have our girls entertained and excited for hours. Just quietly their parents would love this too. I love water parks and enjoy most water based activities.

Monkey Forest Ubud

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Monkey Forest Ubud is home to around 600 crab-eating macaques monkeys. Visitors can buy food at the park to feed the monkeys.The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is an important tourist attraction for the island of Bali. Over 10,000 people a month visits the sanctuary. The Monkey forest plays an important component in the spiritual and economic life of the local community. Like many other animal sanctuaries, we have visited this monkey forest plays an important function in research and conservation of the monkeys that live here. The grounds on which the monkey forest stands is also home to 3 Hindu temples built in the 13th century. Sites like The Ubud Monkey Forest are amazing and great for our kids they mix nature and history. Recently there has been concern about the monkey’s becoming increasingly aggressive towards tourists.

Elephant Safari Park

Elephant

The Elephant Safari Park is an official member of the World Zoo Association, the Park meets International Standards for animal care.The samaritan elephants get to roam a 3.5-hectare site. The site is lush, green and an unspoilt ecosystem that the elephants thrive in. At the park, you can touch and hand-feed the elephants. You are able to view  the elephants playing and watch them have fun bathing. Photos taken with elephants are life long memories. The park features live educational shows and elephant painting, enjoy and learn amazing facts from the information centre. Safari rides can be booked with riders sitting in a teak chair on elephant back for what would be an amazing experience. Our girls would be over the moon about riding an elephant. I know its’ not politically correct these days but this park is first rate and invests money in the conservation of the elephants.

There are many fun and crazy things to do in Bali. These are only 3 examples of the many family travel adventures that can be had on this Indonesian Island

To Find the best hotel in Bali would be a challenge I would think we will start our search at Traveloka when we visit this amazing island Paradise. This post was written in conjunction with Vaindo

I would like to thank Marianne at Mum on the Move and Ruth at exploramum for letting us feature their images

Top 5 Moments in Korea

Top 5 Moments in Korea

Today we have a guest post on the blog from our friend Gary Pearson of The Wondering Wayfarers. Gary is a teacher who has lived on 5 continents. Gary originally hails from Calgary Canada. Gary is currently teaching in Korea. Gary writes about their Top 5 Moments in Korea.

Wondering Wayfarers have an insatiable thirst for adventure. We trek, march, saunter and explore. No matter what type of travel mode is used, our desire to experience places a new will last forevermore.
It isn’t the final destination that holds sway, but the memories made along the way. We are, suffice to say, exhausted when we drag ourselves to bed at the end of each day.
After spending the better part of two years apart, we venture everywhere together as a unified heart. From the weird and whacky to smoking obscure tobaccy, we’re here to tell you tales and divulge some epic fails.

We are wayfarers who will always wonder more, for without intrigue and wonder, life would be an utter bore. We have no intentions of ever hearing your snore come to the fore.

Top 5 Moments in Korea

We’ve been in Korea for just over four months so we thought it’s about time to
share our top moments thus far.
Without further adieu, here are our top five moments in the land of kimchi,
noraebang (karaoke), and soju, a kind of watered-down vodka everyone drinks
like water, some of whom until the verge of passing out.
Uncoincidentally, soju and noraebang go together like bangers and mash.

Our first Korean BBQ:

Top 5 moments in Korea

Korean Bbq

An unnerving, yet unparalleled experience, our first Korean barbeque was
chock full of uncomfortable moments. But boy oh boy, was it ever fun.
Sitting cross-legged on the floor – a cultural norm for many Korean meals – I had
pins and needles within minutes but resisted the temptation to stretch my
abnormally long legs.
Like Koreans in their first English lesson, we were shown step by step how to
cook the meat and prepare the veg.
Ez and I started cooking the kimchi, but were promptly and forcibly corrected.
That particular type of kimchi is not for cooking. Through rampant body
language, manic gesturing and frantic gesticulation, we eventually got the job
done and entertained dozens of onlookers in the process.
Only matched by the affable atmosphere, the barbecue was finger-looking good.
It didn’t take long, even though everyone was laughing at our expense, to find
out how incredibly welcoming, warm and hospitable most Koreans are.
And, if you are wondering, I have just about regained the feeling in my legs.

Independence Day – Gwangju fireworks: Top 5 Moments in Korea

Top 5 moments in Korea

Fireworks Display

I’ll let the pictures tell this fantastical visionary tale. Koreans have a way with the
grand and bold, their fireworks displays touted and renowned the world over.
Bystanders ducked and dodged to get the best vantage point, shooting photos for
the duration of the 45-minute show. Full of splendor and majesty, it was a
grandiose display fit for a king.

Arriving in Yeosu: Top 5 Moments In Korea

top 5 moments in Korea

Yesou in Korea

We had no knowledge of Yeosu prior to arriving, which is another story entirely.
From the onset, however, we liked what we saw.
Home of the 2012 Expo, Yeosu’s harbour front is resplendent with modern
architecture, rolling green hills and pristine waterfront scenery. Innumerable
islands within site of the coastline, Yeosu has a calming and soothing effect, an
aura indicative of the sleepy city’s moderate population.

Its traditional and conservative cultural stance takes some getting used to but
grows on us more every day. Even though we don’t understand a word of
comings and goings, we feel at ease in this speck of land on the southern coast.
Known for its spectacular cuisine – most notably seafood and, in particular, eel
soup (chu-o-tang) – and breathtaking views, I sense we will soon referring to
Yeosu not just as a stopgap but a place to call home.

Finally gaining celebrity status: Top 5 Moments in Korea

When I was young I often dreamed of being a bona fide celebrity, someone who,
like a rock star, couldn’t go anywhere without being recognized or fawned over. I
thought it was too late to achieve this unattainable pipe dream. That was before
moving to a lesser-known Korean city. And oh how it all has all changed.
Teaching in an all girls’ high school, students readily yell out “I love you” and
“you are handsome” from afar, too shy and timid to make an exacting approach.
They giggle, laugh and whisper in Korean even though they could yell to the
heavens and I’d be none the wiser.
Some older locals want their photo taken with me while others stare for an
uncomfortably long time as I pass them by on the street.
Let me make one thing clear. The constant attention is not due to my ordinary
physical appearance. And I am definitely not God’s gift to women. My
celebrity-like status is purely down to being a westerner. No matter the reason, I
thoroughly enjoy each flattering remark that is blurted my way. I haven’t yet had
to alter my looks by wearing a disguise but I’m not ruling out the possibility.
Mum, I have made it. I am officially a celebrity.

Working with Locals: Top 5 Moments in Korea

top 5 moments in Korea

Helping the locals in Korea

A few weeks ago we ventured to the beach for a relaxing day out. To properly
soak up the atmosphere and scenery, we decided to go for a walk along the
waterfront.
A few minutes into our stroll, we came across a group of women on all fours
digging and scouring for various shellfish.
Working tirelessly, the resilient and determined locals scored bags and bags of
the edible treasure. The heat of the day reached a crescendo, the sun rays
relentlessly barreling down.

Watching these women, most of whom probably exceed 50 years of age, was
inspiring. After the search and discovery part of the process was complete, the
clams had to be bagged and lugged down the boardwalk about 200 meters.

I could not sit idly by any longer and felt compelled to lend a helping hand. I
lifted the bags, which were about as heavy as the makeup on Kim Kardashian’s
face, and laboured down the boardwalk.

After two trips I was sweating profusely, like I had devoured too much kimchi
jjigae. I desperately needed a break, followed closely by a beer.
But these women, showcasing otherworldly strength, battled on.
A truly humbling and rewarding experience, these gladiators demonstrated what
a hard day’s work actually looks like.

I hope you enjoyed this guest post. We certainly enjoyed reading The Top 5 moments in Korea by The Wondering Wayfarers

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