Shared Thoughts To Ponder

S.E.O.U.L is What I Will Do in Korea

[PHILIPPINES] KOREA, the Land of Morning Calm, is of wave upon wave of blue mountains, their peaks rising through the mist.

Almost all of my friends and classmates in the Korean Cultural Center (KCC) in the Philippines have been going in and out of Korea for stalking their favorite stars, attending fan meetings, concerts or just for fun and shopping. I just contend myself reading their posts , blogs and pictures and give a deep sigh telling myself that one day, I will go to that land of dreams & fantasies.

One day, while I was browsing on the Buzz Korea website, I read this event  about the “Asian On Air Program” which offers a free trip to Korea made by the Korea Tourism Organization and Korean Air. Since the contest is about what you want to do/see/hear in Korea, I decided that I should join this contest so I could at least express my feelings on what to “Do” in Korea. Of course, there’s already the given itinerary for the winners of this event but I would like to share this blog as my own way of experiencing Korea if ever there’s a chance for me to fulfill my dreams.

If ever I win in this contest, this will be my first time to go out of the country and lucky enough for me that it will be Korea! I LOVE KOREA! For me it’s not only Hallyu that makes Korea so popular. There’s more to Korea that I have to explore.

A first time traveller like me should carefully plan a trip abroad. So, what I will do first is to choose the best time for me to go there and that would be autumn. I love to watch how those leaves color the streets ,parks and mountains in fascinating red and orange hues like what you see in Korean dramas to make the scene more dramatic. Then I will make my own itinerary on what I will “Do” in Korea and I came up with the idea of “S.E.O.U.L”.

S-ightseeing around Seoul.

There are a lot of beautiful places to explore in Korea so I will start first with the historical sites. For me, part of learning about a country is to know it’s history and Korea through its 5,000-year history, has developed a distinct culture from other nations.

To start my sightseeing is by entering the Gwanghwamun Gate (founded in 1395 by the first king of the Joseon Dynasty) is the main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace. From (1) Gwanghwamun Plaza I will enter (2)Gyeongbokgung Palace the oldest but the grandest and most comprehensive palace in the Joseon Dynasty and walk inside Geunjeongjeon Hall where official ceremonies were held and Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, the largest pavilion in Korea. I will stop by at (3) Cheongwadae(The Blue House) to see the official residence and pay respect to the President of Korea (not personally). I will experience walking along some path of (4) Seoul Fortress Wall erected in 1396 by King Taejo.  From a span of 18.2km, parts of the wall that passed through the downtown area were torn down and only 10.5 km remain to date.

Next on my itineray is the (1) Seoul Plaza, an oval shaped lawn infront of the Seoul City Hall. (2)Cheonggyecheon stream, a cooling and refreshing stream where I can relax for a while and dip my feet on the water. Then the next site would be (3) Deoksugung Palace, located next to the Seoul City Hall and famous for its elegant stone-wall road where I can watch the re-enactment of the Royal Changing of the Guards Ceremony. Then I’ll continue my journey to (4)Gyeonghuigung Palace which served as the residence for kings for about 280 years.

My next historical tour will be (1)Changdeokgung Palace where kings of the Joseon Dynasty resided for the longest time and said to be built in perfect harmony with nature. The last palace tour will be(2)Changgyeonggung Palace  built by King Sejong the Great for his retiring father King Taejong. While inside the palace grounds,  it is best to visit (3)Jongmyo Shrine since this is conviniently connected to the said palace  by a pedestrian bridge. It enshrines the memorial tablets of Joseon kings and queens and traditional ceremonies are held. After a whole day of touring the palaces, it’s best to go to (4)Jongno Tower at night because of its fantastic nightscape and is a landmark of downtown Seoul.

Now its time to go to Mt. Namsan, a symbolic mountain located in the center of Seoul and popular as a resting site. N Seoul Tower (below) is equipped with an observatory and a revolving restaurant. I like this place because this is where Lee Min Ho and Koo Hye Sun went on a romantic date in the drama “Boys Over Flowers”.

A symbol of Seoul, (1)Hangang River runs through the capital from east to west. I like to walk and  feel the cool morning breeze emanating from the river. At night, I want to witness the beautiful and romantic (2)Banpodaegyo Bridge Moonlight Rainbow Fountain. I have seen this in many korean dramas. Along the river is (3)Yeouido where I can find Korea Stock Exchange,KBS,MBC, Korean National Assembly Building, huge-screen IMAX theater and other exciting facilities which I can enjoy. I wouldn’t want to miss going inside the (4)Olympic Park , the venue of the 1988 Olympic Games.

E-at korean food.

Hansik or Korean Cuisine are highly nutritious and low in calories. There are a lot of Korean restaurants here in the Philippines and I have tasted several dishes already.  When I get to Korea, I will try my usual favorite korean food such as (1) Samgyeopsal (2) Bulgogi (3)Bibimbap and (4)Japchae but I also wanted to eat those food which I have not tasted yet like (5)Manduguk (6)Samgyetang (7)Hotteok (8) Twigim and (9)Yakgwa. I will also try to taste other korean food which are not commonly found here in my country.

O-rganize my trip.

Planning a trip to Korea is not that easy since this will be my first time. Part of organizing my trip is to know a lot of information about Korea and bring with me some necessary things which are very useful like the   and  KTO Korea Travel Guide. KTO and Buzz Korea recommends buying Korea Pass  Cards  which offers huge discounts and promotional services while shopping, transporting and touring around Korea. The T-Money Card  can be used for buses, subways, trains and some taxis. It can also be used for parking, tolls and tour of cultural facilities. If there’s money left on the card at the end of my trip, I’ll just stop by at any subway station in Seoul and get a refund on the remaining balance. Wow! These are really good for me since I am a budget traveller.

The KTO Tourist Information Center (above) can provide various information I need by region. I’m excited to see the Hallyu Promotion Hall which features life-size photos of korean stars and drama clips. There is also the 24-hour Tourism Information & Language Assistance Hotline 1330. I guess I will never get lost in Korea!

U-nstoppable Shopping.

This is the most exciting part of my trip. Just visiting these places and buying some souvenir items will make my trip complete. My first shopping destination is Namdaemun. Passing through Namdaemun Gate (below)

I will find  (1) Namdaemun Market where I can buy some t-shirts for me,for my hubby and my sister. I will tour the place for some more cheap items to buy. (2) Myeongdong is the place where I can buy some hallyu related items like my favorite OST Drama CDs, DVDs of my favorite korean dramas and movies and also my favorite cosmetic brands. Since I love korean traditional culture (3)Insa-dong is the best place for me.  I will buy some paint brushes and colors to practice Sagunja ( korean traditional painting). I learned it from a special class in KCC. I will buy most of my souvenir items here because I love to collect traditional crafts & antiques.

Next is Dongdaemun. Passing through Dongdaemun Gate (below)

I will find Dongdaemun Market (left) where I can buy some more affordable items like clothes, bags and accessories. In Gwangjang Market (right), I can find displays of traditional wedding items like hanbok, silk and linens. There are also food carts to enjoy eating while going around the place.

The other shopping places that I would love to visit are Itaewon

Hongik University Area (Hongdae)

COEX Mall

and Lotte World

I wouldn’t want to miss visiting the awesome Trick Eye Museum (below) and take lots of pictures in it!

L-earn the culture and tradition.

Because of my passion about Korea, I studied korean language in KCC. I am presently taking up Elem. 1. Somehow, I can communicate and understand some words and phrases in korean and it will be very useful for my future trip. Aside from the language, I also wanted to learn more of the traditions and culture by actual experience so I can feel how koreans do it.

After touring around the bustling metropolis of Seoul, it is so nice to take a break and journey to the Southeastern Area , in Hapcheon , and experience the Templestay. I will stay for two days in (1)Haeinsa Temple to learn and experience Yebul :Ceremonial Service, Chamseon: Zen Meditation, Barugongyang: Monastic Meal and Dado: Tea Ceremony. Other activities I wish to learn are lotus lantern and prayer bead crafts, painting & folk games. This is a great opportunity for me to feel the quietness and serenity of the surroundings. While in the temple, I also want to explore (2)Janggyeong Panjeon, the repositories of the Tripitaka Koreana consisting of  some 81,258 wood printing blocks which is the oldest and most comprehensive Buddhist cannon existing in the world.

Next is to experience the Hanokstay. I will spend an overnight stay in one of the Hanoks in Bukchon Hanok Village (below).

I want to immerse myself in korean traditional living and meet friendly koreans.

Aside from language, I also studied korean traditional music like Danso (korean flute) and Samulnori (percussion ensemble for four different instruments). Because I love traditional music, I want to watch live performances of various tradional music and dance. The National Gugak Center (below) is the primary institution for korean traditional music and stages a lot of performances throughout the year.

Last year, the korean musical “Miso” was staged here in the Philippines and I had the chance to watch its magnificent and very colorful performance.

I want to participate in the Annual Kimchi Festival (below) in Gwangju during October.

Last but not the least in my journey of learning in Korea is the must-see National Museum of Korea (below) which is the largest museum and exhibits not only korean culture but also works of art of other Asian nations.

I guess, my trip is almost complete but still there are a lot of beautiful places to discover in Korea. For now this is more than enough for me. Just reading my itinerary is like a 30-day tour in Korea!  They say that I should experience all the four seasons as a fullfilment of my dreams.  If that happens, it will be my most unforgettable chance of a lifetime! With all the beauty and grandeur of Korea, a lifetime is not enough!

감사합니다 !  웃으면 복이와요! (^__^)

———————-

Sources of Information :

www.visitkorea.or.kr , KTO Korea Travel Guide, KTO Family Trip to Korea booklet, http://www.korea.net

Photo Sources:

Korea Tourism Organization (KTO),  images from yahoo.com, flickr.com

Disclaimer: I do not own any of this photos. Credits goes to the real owners.

SNS :

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/flor.c.bragado

Twitter : https://twitter.com/fcbabb

E-mail : fcbabb@yahoo.com

Korea Tourism Organization & Korean Air are offering you a chance to visit Korea for 5 days in October. Find out how you can join “Asian On Air”: http://bit.ly/SaHY6L. Join the program before it ends on  0001hrs (24Sep2012) (Korean Standard Time KST).

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