As a novice traveler, I make a lot of mistakes during planning and executing the itinerary. I learn my lesson in my trip to South Korea. In Ho Chi Minh trip, I don’t spend a lot of time on research and mainly our goal is a shopping which we achieve successfully, well it’s shopping, we born with that gene. So, I’ll mainly write about my experience in South Korea.
It’s not easy to find suitable date which compliment everyone. Trust me, it’s exhausting. After few discussions, we choose September due to a few factors such as ticket pricing, our schedule, etc. The thing we failed to see, the day we arrive in South Korea is the second day of Chuseok Day, a National celebration. Thank goodness, its second day, not the first day! I only realized before few weeks we are going to go. It’s kinda too late to change the plan. Most attraction places are full with people such as Gyeongbokgung. We cannot fully enjoy the places due to so many people.
Lesson Learn: If possible, avoid National Holiday or big holiday in whichever country you visit, in case you do plan to celebrate the holiday together, no harm done.
2. Season & Weather
This kind related to date, but in a different aspect. Since we decided to go in September, it is autumn in South Korea, not at its peak, just only the beginning. I do study a bit of the temperature in September, but I forgot the one in Jeju Island. Mainly my research more in Seoul and very lacking in Jeju Island. It’s freaking raining the whole 2 days I’m in Jeju and on the day I left Jeju, its shining bright, ermm my luck. In Seoul, we have sunny weather but at least I’m not as sweaty as I am in Malaysia. Since I’m not prepared for raining weather, most of plan are cancelled and I’m feeling a bit regret, we don’t stop and wait for rain to stop. Since we rented a car, we basically just driving and wonder around, with no purpose. To me, if I anticipate Jeju will have downpour, at least, I can prepare alternative plan, change to indoor oppose to outdoor. In a group of five, it’s not easy to change any plan without everyone’s agreement, even for their own good, ermmm…different story which better not be told.
Lesson Learn: Study the weather forecast for every places you plan to go. At least, have some basic info.
3. Over-Excited Plan
Honestly, I prepared the itinerary on my own. Basically, I decided which attraction to visit, where to eat and what to do, etc. Not that I don’t share with my travel mate but they really trust me to plan everything. So, with full authority, I read, research and mix and match the itineraries I found in internet. In paper it look fabulous, seriously, everyday activities planned starting waking up to sleeping. What happened is, there is lack to no flexibility in the schedule and it become very exhausting.
For example, on the second day, we plan Hongik -> Korean Folk Village (Suwon) -> Mt. Namsan -> Myeongdong -> Hongik. It should be manageable and we done it, we cover all places, but we end up sacrifice the next day schedule because we are too damn tired. We never factor in the traveling hour and mode of transport. Since we went there during Chuseok Festival, the queue to purchase ticket is too long, too many people. We missed out almost all the performance schedule and we only covered few places since we need to catch the shuttle bus and heads to our next schedule. We missed the shuttle bus, so we decided to hop on the city bus. The ride to Suwon Station takes almost one hour, along the ride, we are standing in a bus full of people. The luck is definitely not on our side, inside the train is also full of people and we are standing almost one hour. Well, few of us, are able to sit but most of the ride we are standing. When we arrived in Seoul station, we went out to the wrong exit and have to u-turn and keep walking until we found bus stop for bus to Mt. Namsan. Again, the bus is full and we have to standing until we arrive at Mt.Namsan. At this time, our energy already drained. Then we realised, we have to walk uphill to arrive to the Seoul Tower, damn, arghh, really feel like crying. We gathered the remaining energy and start walking and taking photo is quite helpful to forget that your legs is hurting. We have to wait more than one hour before we able to go into the observatory, so we sat at the entrance and have quick dinner break. Our eventful day not yet finish, we ride cable car to descend the Mt. Namsan (still long queue) and walk to Myeongdong. Here we split to 2 groups, 3 and 2 pax each group, scrolling around Myeongdong street, buying souvenir and when it’s time to gathered back, we realised, we have no idea where we are. With no means of contact between other group, we frantically keep searching where are the station that we suppose to met. At that time, we don’t really care about us, we just hope the other group able to find a way back to hostel since it’s been more than 40 minutes we were suppose to meet up. Since we feel guilty we keep searching for them in the subway station, even ride a train to other station around Myeongdong, in case we are at the wrong station, in and out of trains, stations, up and down a lot of stairs, and at one point, we just gave up. We went up back to the streets, tried to get free Wifi, but no luck, then we decided to take a taxi back to hostel since it’s already 1 am. Bad day turn to worse, taxi driver could not find our hostel, lucky for us, we have the hostel’s card, and the taxi driver gave the hostel owner a phone call, and we able to arrived at our hostel safely. We spend 18 hours that day, we are very tired. Due to eventful day, we decided to start next day a bit later and change schedule Day 3 to Day 6 and we cancel few places.
Lesson Learn: Be realistic and know your limit, it is useless to push yourself or others and end up losing more. It’s really not easy for the first timer traveling with big group (>3 people), and only one person know the itinerary, at least read the itinerary. Always have buffer time between each places and try not to cover places far from one another in a day. And the most important thing, do spend enough time to enjoy yourself at the places you go, rather than spend more time traveling between distance. Last but not least, be aware of your surrounding, and takes note where you are, it is not fun lost in a foreign land.