Thursday, August 27, 2015

Korean ATMs, The Great Firewall, etc.

One lovely corner of the Gyeongbokgong in Seoul.

I have not been posting half as much as I initially planned to during my trip! Things have been extremely fun, though a bit more tiring than I expected. Since my last post, I have been in Taipei, Seoul, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and I am writing this post from a suburb of Kuala Lumpur. In a little less than a week, I'll be flying back to the United States. I plan to write a few more travel posts, but I will probably get to them until after my return home. 

In the last few weeks, I've encountered a few of those unexpected setbacks and minor problems that are inevitable when one travels without doing exhaustive advanced planning and research: I learned that many Korean ATMs do not accept foreign cards, which is problematic when one has a habit of traveling with fairly little cash and relies on an ATM card. (Almost all ATMs in Seoul's subway stations accept international debit cards, though.) I also found that, unlike in 2011 when I briefly lived in Beijing, the Great Firewall in China now blocks access to all Google products (Gmail, Blogger, Google Maps, etc.) in addition to the Google search engine and Facebook. Discovering the latter when I got to Shanghai and expected to use email and actually research my itinerary with my usual online tools was an unpleasant surprise. I felt the absence of Google Maps particularly strongly. It was, admittedly, a major oversight on my part because a few people tried to warn me about the Google issue. 

Perhaps because I've lived and travelled through East Asia more than most, I was a bit lackadaisical with much of the research and planning for this trip. It generally hasn't worked out too badly either, though failing to prepare myself for the Google issue in China was a bit silly of me. I can't wait to share some of the actually fun details about my travels! 

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