With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

I Like When People Back Home Visit

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 21, 2010

December 22 – 23, 2010

All Pictures

My mom at a subway station

My Mom in South Korea

I love it when family and friends come and visit me when I live in a foreign country. It’s always great when out of town loved ones stop by for a few days, but the joy is multiplied many times over when they’re coming in from another country. I’ve only had a few visits from people back home.

There was Makeeya, who was a teammate of mine from my CUC lady pioneers days. She visited me in England one summer. I saw her again in South Korea. I’m not sure if that really counts as a visit since she moved to Seoul and still lives there now.

Then there was Taryn in Thailand. Remember?

Most of the photos from this trip were lost. 😦

My mom has visited me twice, once when I lived in Japan and once when I lived in Seoul. On her Japan visit she brought her sister, my aunt Audrey, and aunt Audrey’s husband, uncle Mike. I took them to Tokyo Disney and they had a great time.

Eating chestnuts and enjoying the decorations.

In Seoul, my mom visited during Christmas. She was in Korea for about a week, but I didn’t have too much time off. I showed her around Seoul and took her to a few places outside the city.

Walking the wall

I had the great idea for us, Floridian winter haters, to spend lots of time outdoors in the cold December air. I first took her to Suwon. We walked around the the city walls, learning about Korean history and culture. That wasn’t too bad.

No, we love cold damp caves in the winter!

Then I thought, “Hey, let’s check out a nice cold cave?” So we rode clear across the country, for about 4 hours, to Samcheok. At least the bus was warm.

From my caving experience at that time, I thought that caves were things under the ground. Little did I know that we would have to hike up a mountain to get to this cave. But everything in Korea requires a hike up some mountain.

My mom had to rest several times along the way, but she did make it all the way up. The cave was great. Some people criticize it for having too many tacky lights. I said it needs more tacky lights!

Waiting for the bus inside an historically reconstructed Korean house

My mom really enjoyed the cave. She still talks about it anytime someone asks about her trip to South Korea. “…and you know I had to hike up a mountain in the cold to see the cave!”

This Christmas she will visit me again. I will be living in Japan. She will bring one of her grandkids with her too. She’s just waiting to find out Alex’s school schedule so she can know for what dates to book the flight. I wonder what cold mountains I should make them hike up next?

All Pictures

South Korea

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, or train, though entry by train is rare if not damn impossible for most non-presidents of North or South Korea.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to South Korea.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 90-day visa at the airport or ferry port.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Korean embassy in your country.






  • Korea is a generally safe country. You don’t really have to watch out for pickpockets,muggers, or scam artists.
    • You should watch out when crossing the streets, beware of scooters on the sidewalk, and the little old ladies that will push you to get that last seat on the bus or subway.
  • Use common sense and you will be okay.
  • Things are generally inexpensive and there are many wonderful things to buy.

Enjoy Korea! I live there for 2 years and had a fantastic time.


How to get there:

  • 37°15’56.7″N 127°00’00.8″E

From Seoul:

There are many ways to get to Suwon.

  • Bus: The easiest way would be to find a red bus that stops in your neighborhood that goes to Suwon.
  • Subway: Go to Suwon Station on line 1. Make sure to get on a train heading in Suwon’s Direction or you’ll end up in Incheon when line 1 splits. It takes about an hour and a half to get to Suwon from Seoul Station.
  • KTX: You can also take the KTX to Suwon from Seoul Railway Station. It costs 8,100KRW, but there are slower, cheaper long distances train that are around 2,500KRW.



How to get there:

  • 37°26’24.4″N 129°10’08.5″E

From Seoul:

Go to the Express Bus Terminal subway station on lines 3, 7, and the new line 9. I think you go out exit 9, but I’m not sure. Usually you can just follow the crowds of people pushing and shoving their way to Express Bus Terminal. If all else fails, you can just follow the vague signs or ask for directions.



There are three types of buses, general, excellent, and midnight excellent. To Samcheok they cost 15,900KRW, 23,400KRW, and 25,700KRW respectively for an adult one way ticket. Check the website for times and prices.


The first bus out of Seoul leaves at 6:30 and the last leaves at 23:30. The return trip has similar times. The website says the trip is about 3:30 hours long, but it was actually about 4 hours. (Every bus ride in Korea is about 4 hours!)


There is a rest stop during the bus ride to Samcheok. Remember which bus is yours.

Hwanseon Cave

How to get there:

  • 37°19’31.5″N 129°01’01.0″E

From Samcheok’s Express Bus Terminal:

  1. Go to Samcheok Intercity Bus Terminal (right behind the Express Bus Terminal where the bus from Seoul drops you off)
  2. Take bus #60.
    • Bus fare is 2,700KRW and the ride is 50 minutes long.


Gangwon-do Samcheok-si Singi-myeon Daei-ri San (Mt.) 117


It costs 2,800KRW for one adult ticket.

Samcheok Cave Bus Schedule

  • You need cash. You can’t use your T-money card.
  • The first direct bus leaves Samcheok at 6:10 and the last at 12:15. After that there are no direct buses to the cave.
  • The buses leaving Samcheok after 12:15 will drop you off at a corner store. You will have to buy another ticket and wait for another bus.
  • Also if you leave after 12:15 make sure to bring change and small bills. Sometimes they aren’t able to give change.
  • There is no point in going after 17:10 since the cave closes at 18:00 the latest.
  • The first bus from the cave leaves at 6:50 and the last at 19:30. All these buses go directly to Samcheok.


  • Mar – Oct 8:00-18:00
  • Nov – Feb 8:30-17:00

Phone: +82-55-1330


  • There are two caves, one you walk through (Hwanseon) and one with a monorail (Daegeum Cave).
  • There is a long hike up a mountain to get to the cave in the picture above, Hwanseon cave.
  • Daegeum Cave (대금굴) (The one with the monorail)
    • 3,000KRW one-way
    • 5,000KRW round-trip
    • Phone: 033-570-3257
    • You need to buy tickets for the monorail online in advanced. You cannot buy them at the cave.
      • Unfortunately the website is in Korean and the writing is in picture form, so google translator isn’t much help. Maybe that will change in the future.
      • Try to get a Korean friend to help you, or quickly learn the language.


One Response to “I Like When People Back Home Visit”

  1. Demilove said

    I can’t wait to visit, like in the summer time!! I’m worse than a Floridian, I definitely don’t do cold weather!! Hope your mom and nephew have a swell time on the next one!!


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