I don’t know where I’m goin.’ I mean this in the literal sense, and not so much in the metaphorical David Coverdale kinda way, at least tonight.
Summer vacation at my school starts at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. Like so many Korean institutions, out summer vacation makes as much sense as a goat in a cannery. We have three actual work days off, Monday through Wednesday. It is forbidden to request Thursday or Friday off, as it is our intensive period. See, during the kids’ summer and winter vacations, private language academy teachers such as myself actually teach more. If the kids are off school, they spend even more time in academies such as mine. Since our three day (5 with the weekend) vacation falls at the end of July and beginning of August, it is super-crazy-thunderdome peak season in Korean travel.
EVERY Korean travels this week.
I’ll use Cebu, Philippines as an example. I know some people down there. It’s also a popular place for Korean tourists. If I wanted a flight from Seoul to Cebu (and I wanted to avoid a Manila to Cebu flight on a sketchy Filipino airline) it would be literally impossible. Every flight from Seoul to Cebu is sold out. Coach, Business, and First. Direct, via Hong Kong, or via Tokyo. Even the ghetto Chinese airlines are sold out, both Friday and Saturday. I’m not actually in the market for a Cebu flight, as I feel the Phils are better to lolligag around in than to attack in a four day blitz, but this kind of shows what I’m up against.
The way I see it, I have four options.
1. Bangkok. My first choice, with a bullet. I’ve been a bit stressed out and down as of late, and the BKK ranks pretty highly for blowing off steam. I could chill out, eat awesome food, and drink cheap whiskey on a motorcycle taxi. Plus, one of my oldest friends lives there, and two other buddies of mine from here are going there that same week, so it would be a party.
Downside - expensive plane ticket (though I hope it comes down).
2. Jeju Island. Two of my work friends are going, both of whom are awesome, and the weather should be beautiful this week. I haven’t been in years. Renting scooters and hanging out on the beach would be involved. No currency exchange. My cell phone would work.
Downside - three is an awkward number for lodging. From my research, a lot of hotels are sold out, so it will be crowded. My first trip to Jeju was aight, but it wasn’t transcendent. I don’t feel like it will be a party, which is kinda what I want.
3. Taipei. I’ve never been to Taiwan, so it would be cool to check out somewhere new. If I ever wanted to move to Taipei (always an option in these parts) it would be nice to know some basics about it. Good Chinese food. Two of my co-workers are also going here, although on unrelated trips.
Downside - Both co-workers have divergent agendas on different parts of the island, so other than Saturday night I probably wouldn’t see either, I’d be on my own. Flights are almost as pricy as Bangkok. I’d tell myself that I’d explore the countryside, but I’d just end up boozing in Taipei, so I’d feel regretful for whatever reason. I have no similar delusions about Bangkok. I know going in that I’d spend 4-5 days in bars, and I’d feel no remourse. Maybe it’s because I’ve been to Bangkok and seen its major tourist attractions, and I’ve seen how horrible its regional beaches are, so I wouldn’t feel bad about being a drunken scumbag there. Again, stressed out and depressed, so I kind of want to be an unapologetic drunken scumbag for a few days.
4. A TBA solo peninsular Korean adventure. Kinda like last year. My trip last year resulted in my most-read blog post by a large margin. I’m sure I could find something cool. I could listen to podcasts and be left alone. It's clearly the cheapest option, which rules for my pending 6 month epic in SE Asia or South America.
Downside - I'd end up in dull bars in cities like Cheonan. I'd be going to places that I could hit on weekend trips. Beaches are off limits, as I know what a zoo Busan will be and how horrible it is to go to other Korean beaches on my own.
I guess I'll find out where I'm heading soon enough. Till then, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that BKK airfares will drop.