I have finally purchased my plane tickets and most of the other materials necessary for my upcoming wander-thon. The backstory:
Last week, I went downtown one morning to travel agent alley, which is allegedly near city hall, though, having wandered around there a bit, I have yet to find said 시청. Anyway, Korea has an odd (or maybe not so odd? I don't know) habit of having streets dedicated to certain trades. For instance, Daegu has a jewelry street, eastern medicine street, tool street, car part street, carpet street, travel agent street, and, yes, a "culture street."
I went to the travel agent street with a description of the itinerary I was hoping for all written down so I wouldn't have to labor through explaining it at every travel agent I went to. Nonetheless, I wound up having to labor through explaining it at every travel agent I went to. Like a geezer in a riddle told by a sphinx (huh?) the trip has 3 legs: Korea-Taiwan, Taiwan-Singapore, Bangkok-Korea. The whole going-on-my-own-from-Singapore-to-Bangkok seemed to confuse everyone quite a bit, and a number of agents even told me such travel was impossible. Others said that the plane fares for December hadn't been released yet, so they couldn't help me this far ahead of time. One agent also claimed not to be selling plane tickets that day. Other people shot me down because it was lunch time. But a few did give me estimates (the best, about 1.4 million won, the worst, 1.9), and a few others took down the details and promised to email me. The best offer came in at 1.08 million won, a good 300k lower than the next best one, and when I went in today to seal the deal, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the tax had actually fallen and the ticket would now cost only 1.03 million won, or about 800 dollars.
(Actually, I was too pissy before to note that one benefit of this exchange rate madness is that it makes Korean stuff seem really cheap in terms of dollars. Thus, though the actual price here has stayed the same, my dinners have dropped from 4 or 5 dollars to about 3. Not that it matters - it's just that thinking about stuff that way makes me feel a little better.)
Also, I've been stocking up on some travel gear. It turns out a friend of mine(whom I met at the gym, who just graduated with a BA in engineering, and got a sweet job with Hyundai)'s dad owns a "mountain climbing" (much less strenuous than what we think of when we hear the phrase. It's more akin to nature-strolling) supply shop, so he gave me a nice 25% discount on some sweet light-weight, fast-drying, sweat-wicking, ultra-hyphenatable pants and a similar shirt, which is apparently slightly less conducive to word-play. I had also been shopping for some travel sandals, but they're a bit hard to find because of the season, and so I wound up buying some sort of sweet meshy shoes that seem like they'll be good for rain and/or muck, but also good at preventing pesky mosquito bites on my toesies. I still need to find a backpack, but there are 2 northface stores downtown, and my friend's dad's shop also stocks them.
In other news, I finally met up with Kait and Ace, who are pretty much just like me but in reverse. By that I mean, they went to the same place in Thailand to take the same course that I'll be taking in a few months, and then they moved to Daegu to work at a hagwon. They seem like quite nice folks - even mentioning me in their blog, hooray! - and had nothing but good news about the course and about travel in Thailand. So, I've got two friends here vouching for Cambodia and Vietnam and two others vouching for Thailand. Now, if only I can find someone who can vouch for Singapore, Malaysia, and Laos...
Ahhhh I'm getting quite excited about the trip. On the other hand, once I have all the planning and shopping done, and once the Obama-McCain mudfest ends and one of them is in office and there's not so much blasted news to read anymore, I don't know how I'll spend my mornings and afternoons.