South Korea & Japan: Temples, Shrines & Seaside Treasures
Pam Kim - South Korea
Ken Murakami - Japan
What trip leader did well:
Both Trip Leaders, Pam and Ken were exceptional and very accommodating to all of us on the trip. We could not have asked for better service. Their knowledge of their home countries was so impressive.
What trip leader can do to improve:
The trip ran smoothly because of the two experienced leaders. Please continue to take advantage of spontaneous opportunities and be flexible as to group needs.
If you did not rate the quality of included features as excellent, please tell us why:
Because of the Covid regulations in both countries, everything changed before our trip. We spent $270 for visas to Japan that were not needed. The QR codes for both S. Korea and Japan were very difficult but Pam our Trip Leader from S. Korea helped us to get both of them. The itinerary and the daily schedules were not accurate.
When we got home, we received the changes needed because of the cancellations of activities and speakers. There was a $1,000 charge on our invoice. I called OAT and it was removed, but seeing that charge was another stress factor.
Please share your comments on your pacing, including opportunities for improvement:
The pacing was excellent. During both portions of the trip, we had additional opportunities lead by our Trip Directors for additional activities.
Please tell us about your Learning and Discovery experience, including any opportunities for improvement as well as exceptional experiences you may wish to share:
Our role as travelers and not tourists is to learn about cultures and customs. Both portions of the trip gave us wonderful opportunities. The baby box experience was new to most of us and very informative. The pastor was very helpful in explaining the Korean family values system.
Please share your comments about your Home-Hosted experience, including opportunities for improvement:
We believe this was the first time this hostess had sponsored a home hosted meal. She spoke very little English and the meal was confusing, we did not know what to do with the little plates of food she offered. We finally convinced her to sit down with us, we watched how she rolled the ingredients in the seaweed wrap. There were dirty dishes in the sink and after noting the spotless condition of other parts of South Korea, this meal was a shock.
Please share your comments about your Accommodation experience(s), including opportunities for improvement:
Our rooms at the Dormy Inn were very compact to put it nicely. Our Trip Leader, Ken told us they would be clean but minimal and he was right. Two of us could not be walking around the room at one time, there was a tiny space for the desk and for our computers. These hotels had pillows that the others in our group called "sand bags" - very hard and dense.
The Pacific Hotel in Seoul and the Hotel Todaya in Toba were excellent. Enough room to move around and large tables or desks to write our journals.
We were so happy that both of our trip leaders used the free time to help any shoppers who wanted to spend their own time. We are not shoppers so we never felt pressure to wait for others to purchase things.
Advice to others taking this trip...
The timing of this trip was very precarious. South Korea and Japan had just opened for travelers a few weeks before we arrived. Everywhere we went, the proprietors took our temperatures before we could enter a building. That being said, the trip to South Korea and Japan was exceptional. Both countries were very happy to have visitors again.
Day 13 - Saturday, April 22, 2022 - Depart for U.S.
The hotel prepared a box breakfast for us as we had to be in the lobby way before the breakfast room was open.
Last night we found out that our departure flight back to...