Don’t bother going to Korea on a Monday … musings from Seoul

In a couple days in Seoul, I learned a couple things

If you’re going in mid-November, dress warmly and take an umbrella around
Korean food in Korea doesn’t exactly resemble what you’ve had in North America
Korean food in Korea is pretty god damn awesome, especially if you’re a fan of fried food, super spicy kimchi or meat in general
Eating dog meat will literally fuck your mind up, if you’re from a country where dogs are commonly treated as pets
I don’t like cats in real life – I’m 1000% sure that I would not like cat meat – so that’s something that I’ll never eat
No tipping … seriously! Don’t tip … you just look like an idiot wasting money.
Absolutely use the Seoul Travel Planner … it’s a great utility

Here are some other useful tips I picked up while roaming

1. Don’t attempt to ask anyone with grey hair for directions – it’s pointless. Do ask younger people, especially college students, for directions. They are more likely to speak English and help you.
2. Absolutely use the “take me to” cards that the hotel will provide you with – and always have Korean with English translations.
3. Watch out for motorcycles and scooters on the sidewalks or alleys – attempting to “clothesline” or “lariat” someone who is riding a scooter on the pavement, is frowned upon.
4. You pay at the counter at restaurants – I left my money on the table with the check and someone at Bulgogi Brothers actually chased me out outside to ask for the money.  Only Western-style and hotel restaurants take payments at the table.
5. When with Korean friends, you should pour each other’s drinks when the glass is nearly empty. It is considered rude to pour your own drink or ignore the empty glass of your drinking partners. This rule only applies to alcoholic beverages.
6. When in doubt about anything, call the BBB Volunteer Service for Translation toll-free 1588-5644 and press #. You can then ask the volunteer translator what you want to say and hand your phone to the person you want it said to. Useful when communicating to taxi drivers. If you don’t have a phone, ask the taxi driver to dial the number. This is available 24/7. It’s awesome when you’re trying to get somewhere.

However, the most important lesson to learn about Korea, is that everything is closed on Mondays. Sundays aren’t great either, but Monday’s are absolute shit. You’re a tourist, here is what doesn’t open on a Monday

– DMZ tour to Panmunjeom – this is a big attraction.
Seoul Bus Tour – as if tourists don’t come to Korea on Mondays.
– Your hotel gym – my gym was closed on the first Monday of the month … WTF?
– Galleria Department Store is closed Tuesdays once a month.
– Hyundai Department Stores are closed Mondays once a month
– Lotte Department Stores are closed Mondays once a month.
– Shinsegae Department Stores are closed Mondays once a month.
– Palaces and Temples – assume all are closed on a Monday except Gyeongbokgung which is closed on a Tuesday

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at

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