Hello dear readers! Today I have a pretty practical post for you, especially for anyone in Korea who is getting ready to travel to gorgeous locations in the upcoming Summer vacation period. Chris and I are jetting off to Borneo in August, spending a few nights living and cruising in the rainforest, and there is lots to organize! So here is a guide for anyone needing to get their life sorted out before traveling around Asia:)
Firstly, if you are traveling to countries that don’t require a visa, I highly recommend going through kiwi.com. They are an online travel site that lets you search for flights through low cost airlines and also helps you out if any of those flights change unexpectedly. We had booked our flights in May and one of the airlines changed the departure date this month. Kiwi found us new flights and booked us onto them at no extra cost to us, so yeah, they are super helpful!
Next, please don’t leave getting your travel shots to the last minute! Especially if you, like us, live in rural Korea. We searched high and low, including at our local clinic and the 2 hospitals in town, and could not get our travel shots or malaria tablets here! So we had to go to our nearest big city, Daegu, a 30 minute bus ride away. There is hope though, as Daegu Catholic University Medical Centre is open every first and third Saturday of he month, and provides most of the travel shots and tablets you will need. I got hepA and Tetanus/Diptheria shots done (80000 won), as well as 15 malaria pills prescribed which I got filled at a local pharmacy for 50000 won (around 3000 won a tablet). The hospital does take walk-ins though if you have a Korean friend that can phone ahead for you that might be advisable during the week.
To get to the hospital get to Gamsam station on subway line 2 (green). Take exit 3 and walk straight out 20 metres to the bus stop. Take bus 503, he Daegu Catholic Medical Centre is 5 stops along. At the stop, turn around and walk back about 15 metres till you see a big sign for the Centre. Turn left at the sign and just walk straight and up a walkway that leads directly to the huge building of the Centre. When you get there go to registration on floor 2. Take a number and tell the registration assistant exactly what you need. Also remember to take your ARC card.
From there walk straight down the corridor to the Infectious Diseases department where a nurse will take your forms and help you take your height, weight, and blood pressure. From there a doctor will talk to you about what pills and shots you need, so know your vaccination record if possible and have your research done on what shots are recommended. The doctor that spoke to me had great English, but it doesn’t hurt to write down the Korean names for the shots you need.
Then you will go back down the corridor and take a number to pay for your shots. They do take debit cards and have good English. Then it is just a trip to the first floor injection room to get your shots. The malaria pills can be bought at any of the many pharmacies on your walk back to the bus stop. I would recommend trying the pharmacy to the right with the big pink sign, just before you go down to the bus stop, mostly because they give you a free drinking yoghurt which is super nice after your nasty injections 😉
So there you go! Be aware that some travel shots need more than one dose: hepA is two shots 6 months apart, while Japanese encephalitis needs three shots within days of each other. Also make sure you know when to take your malaria pills, some require you to take pills both before you leave and after you return. Do check with local clinics to see if they offer any shots for free, we got our typhoid shot free of charge in our little town.