16 Jun - 18 Jun 2013 Seoul

East Asia
Republic of Korea aka South Korea
Seodaemun/Mapo District
Mapo-gu, Yeonnam-dong 570-16
Clean and comfortable double room with shared bathroom for KRW 40,000.- or US$ 35.50 per night. Free wifi and fully-equipped communal kitchen/lounge with fridge.
Great international backpacker atmosphere with very helpful and friendly staff, professional management; excellent (Canadian) English.
Beer: 500-ml bottles of ice-cold Korean Hite Dry Finish (c. 4.8 % alc./vol., “Refresh Your Spirits; Break away from the Daily Grind!”) for KRW 1,650.- or US$ 1.45 per bottle from the nearby Emart Everyday +8223360078, “Korea’s No. 1 Discount Store”; or even better: 640-ml bottles of ice-cold Korean Hite Ice Point (c. 4.5 % alc./vol.) for only KRW 1,600.- or US$ 1.40 per large bottle from the family-run KosaMart +8223322275; cheers!

Click below for an interactive road map of the Kimchee Hongdae Guesthouse in Seoul, which we would recommend, and for directions:


Matt: Poking my nose into this, that and the other in trendy Hongdae, known for its urban arts and indie music culture, and bumping into the funny Trickeye Museum (admission: a stiff KRW 13,000.- per adult) where boisterous and resourceful young Koreans experiment with their visual perception, play the familiar game “photographer and model” and experience at first hand that the map is not the territory.

Matt: Consulting the beautiful and caring lady practitioners at Seoul’s Dae-Jang-Geum Traditional Korean Medicine Centre +82234460424, being diagnosed (on pulse, tongue and eyes) as able-bodied and physically fit enough and receiving my personal food recommendations for a potent long life: a bouquet garni of kudzu roots, cassia seeds, chrysanthemum flowers, aloe leaves and bamboo shoots plus some more ordinary stuff like buckwheat, malt and bean sprouts; masitge deuseyo.

Matt: Enjoying delightful and meaningful encounters with a diversity of friendly and energetic Koreans at (i) the Bukchon Hanok Village, Seoul’s largest concentration of traditional Korean homes, built from wood, stone and plaster and with window panes made from paper, and at (ii) the Namsangol Hanok Village where young people of both sexes demonstrated their incredible taekwondo techniques and destroyed with their bare hands and feet heaps of bricks, roof tiles and wooden boards.

Matt: Saying goodbye to wonderful and hospitable, traditional and modern Korea (“Annyeong-hi gyeseyo!”), taking the superb AREX train from Hongik University Station straight to Incheon International Airport (46 min, KRW 3,950.- or US$ 3.50 per person; being pretty much sure that God has really intended man to fly, otherwise he’d make it more difficult to get to the airports), taking off with Japanese low-cost carrier Peach Aviation (“Making Air Travel in Asia Closer and More Fun”) in an Airbus A 320-200 for KRW 107,900.- or US$ 95.50, one way and all inclusive, to Osaka’s futuristic Kansai International Airport, Terminal 2, built on an artificial island in Osaka Bay and designed by Italian star architect Renzo Piano, being issued with a Japanese 90-day “landing permission as a temporary visitor” on arrival, free of charge, and travelling on a discounted Peach Kyoto Sightseeing Ticket (already sold in-flight by Peach Aviation's eager flight attendants, JPY 1,500.- or US$ 15.- per person: Nankai Railway from Kansai Airport to Namba, Osaka Municipal Subway from Namba to Yodoyabashi and eventually Keihan Railway from Yodoyabashi to Gionshijo) to my next backpacker hostel, situated in the fascinating neighbourhood of Gion, one of the most exclusive and well-known geisha districts in all of Japan.

Recommended books - click below for your Amazon order from the United States:
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From the 2013 Moral Travel Compass for Our Grand Children's Journey of Life:
It’s bad to bank on the police;
It’s good to call your friends.
Keep your bearings!