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First appeared on The Korea Blog: http://blog.korea.net/?p=22313
Visiting Suncheon wasn’t really part of my trip. One of my Korean friends sent me a Kakaotalk message and asked if I have made plans already in my upcoming travel to Korea. I was planning to just stay in Seoul most of the time. Then she suggested that I should visit Suncheon. I didn’t know that it was her hometown because I would usually meet her in Seoul during my previous Korea visits. I immediately said “yes” even though I was totally clueless on what to see there.
After almost 4 hours of bus travel, my Korean friend and I arrived in Suncheon around lunch time. We had a quick lunch and went right away to Naganeupseong Folk Village. The moment I saw it, I knew I made the right decision to do this sudden plan.
The place gives you a glimpse of what Korea was like centuries ago. Built during the Joseon Dynasty, the village is home to traditional-style stone houses with straw roofs. If you feel like these structures look familiar, it is because this compound is a popular filming location for TV dramas and movies.
I met an ahjumma (Korean word for an old woman) who had lots of Korean instruments. Watching her play thejanggu (a Korean traditional drum) was enough for me, but she approached me and gave me the drum. I initially declined since I’m not a musically inclined person but my Korean friend convinced me to give it a try.
It is actually tricky to play the janggu. The 2 sides of the drum produce different tones (due to the type of animal skin used) so it is important to know when to strike and what side to strike. For this practice, we used “Arirang,” a widely popular folk song in Korea. After learning the rhythm, she consequently sang the lyrics of the song.
The next house I visited made jipsin or traditional straw sandals. Binding the straws together was very challenging. The ahjussi (old man) taught me the technique of properly rolling them but I failed to make a twine. Nevertheless, he was very happy that I enthusiastically tried even though I was struggling.
Another interesting part of Naganeupseong Folk Village are the old punishment tools. Back in the ancient times, accused citizens are subjected to extreme kinds of torture until they admit to their crimes.
If these torture devices give you goosebumps, then it’s time to relax and enjoy around the village. Don’t miss trying these larger-than-life swings. While it looks easy, getting your momentum is actually difficult so prepare to test the power of your legs.
Always have your camera ready especially if you’re traveling with your family or friends. The village has vast spaces and picturesque backgrounds. You never know when will a picture-perfect moment happen so it pays to be alert at all times. I don’t know the little girl here but I was lucky to capture this free-spirited moment of her childhood.
And before you leave, you can bring a piece of the village by buying handmade ceramic cups and dishes like these.
We finished the Naganeupseong Folk Village tour at 4PM so that we can catch the sunset in Suncheonman Bay Ecological Park.
The moment I was in the field of reeds, the feeling was indescribable. It’s like getting lost in the middle of nowhere.
It roughly takes 30 to 40 minutes to go to the Yongsan observatory, the place where you can get the best view of Suncheon Bay. The trail was a breeze but hiking up the mountain was a whole different story. I wish I did a bit of body stretching and brought a liter of bottled water. But all of my tiredness was gone after seeing this breathtaking view.
It’s always a pleasure to escape the bustling noise of the city and just absorb the sounds of nature. So if you’re planning a trip to Korea, include Suncheon in your itinerary.
For more interesting stories about Korea, visit blog.korea.net, a portal managed by the Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS).
Last April 2013, my Korean best friend was having his school break so he decided to take a vacation in his hometown Hoengsong (횡성) in Gangwondo (강원도). At that time, I really had a plan to go to Korea also because my ‘noona’ (누나, term for an older female friend/sister) was getting married in Ulsan (울산). So it was a good chance for me and my best friend to travel in Korea together especially that April is the start of spring!
The Garden of Morning Calm (아침고요수목원) is located in Gapyeong (가평) in the province of Gyeonggido (경기) . From Heongsong, he drove to Gapyeong for about an hour. Yes, he’s a really fast driver. If you’ve been to the provinces of Korea, you can see how long and wide their expressways are so there’s not much heavy traffic when you travel from one area to another.
Even if it’s not spring, the botanical garden is still open from 8:30 AM to 6:20 PM. The entrance fee is KRW8,000 (about PHP300). They can admit people 1 hour before the closing time but it’s better to go there early so that you can enjoy the place. It’s really huge and there are are many sites for picture-taking.
No, this is not a scene from a Korean TV series. Seoul’s five grand palaces have guards dressed up like they were time-warped from the Joseon Dynasty. If my memory is correct, this one’s from Deoksugung (덕수궁). Get off at City Hall Station and go out at Exit 2. This palace is closed every Monday.
Last 2013, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea held a video contest that had the theme “My Best/Favorite Korean Friend/Food is…” Fortunately for me, my Korean best friend Oh Hyun lives in Manila so I convinced him to join the contest. He was very eager about it because the grand prize was a Korean car.
I immediately contacted my 2 Filipino friends (hello, Jeb & Jojie!) from Crevin Media, a small but rising production company that makes awesome videos mostly for weddings (but they cater to other kinds of projects as well so go ahead, inquire about their services.) The requirement for the contest was a 3-minute video only but we had to do a whole day shoot around Manila, Tagaytay, and Laguna.
The study scene shot in Tootsie’s, Tagaytay. Heirloom Filipino dishes await if you dine in here.
Football scene in Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Fortunately, there weren’t that much people that day but it rained so hard 10 or 15 minutes after we arrived.
Dinner scene in Manna Korean Garden Restaurant, Poblacion, Makati. Definitely one of the best Korean restos I’ve tried in Metro Manila.
We waited for 4 months and finally, November 2013, the announcement was made (official article HERE.) We didn’t win the car but we still got a Bronze recognition for our efforts. Not bad considering there were 464 entries from different countries around the world!
I attended the awarding ceremony in Arirang TV’s studio in Seoul, Korea last December 5, 2013. It was a memorable experience for me since it was my first time to appear in a Korean broadcasting program and I somehow got to represent the Philippines in an international platform.
Oh Hyun and I would like to thank our families and friends who supported us along the way. It’s definitely one of the best memories in our friendship so we’re very grateful that we’ve reached this far.
If you haven’t watched the video, here it is. Load it in HD quality. It’s much much much better. 감사합니다.
My Korean friend took me to Hwangryeong Mountain (황령산) by car. We arrived around 6PM and as the sky darkened, lights from various areas gradually illuminated Busan. Good thing I brought my tripod to make a long exposure for this night shot.
Even Garfield is having a tough time earning money these days.
I first went to Busan winter of 2010. Korea’s most popular beach, Haeundae (해운대), was almost deserted that time. With the ocean’s freezing temperature, no one was crazy enough to take a plunge. In August 2012, this photo won in a contest by the Korea Tourism Organization. As part of my prize, they used my photo as the Facebook page’s cover photo for a month. Actual cover photo HERE.
Autumn is probably my favorite season in Korea. The change of colors is simply magical. I’ll let the pictures I took do the talking.
Gyeongbukgong (경복궁), Seoul (서울)
Deoksugung (덕수궁), Seoul (서울)
Tongdosa (통도사), Yangsan (양산)