Homestay and traveling solo in Suncheon made easy by BnB Hero

Traveling solo has been on my bucket list since I started watching Ian Wright in awe at Discovery Channel’s Lonely Planet in high school. Although I’ve traveled in many parts of the world already for the past __ number of years, I still haven’t mustered up the courage to backpack by myself. It’s always been with family and friends.

I took the Mugunghwa train from Yongsan Station in Seoul to Suncheon City. It took me around 5 hours. A very long trip, indeed! I took the KTX going back from Sincheon to Seoul — only 3 hours! ^^

But thanks to the opportunity presented by BnB Hero, I finally did it. As my prize for churning out one of the best blogs about the Seongju Life and Culture Festival, I was given a free homestay at Suncheon for the Suncheon Bay International Garden Expo.

The entrance to the Suncheon Bay International Garden Expo

Truth to tell, this wasn’t on my list of things to visit in Seoul since I am not fond of gardens. But I’m glad I soldiered on, anyway.

I bought the night ticket on my first day, since I arrived at Suncheon late in the afternoon. And on the second day, I bought the one-day pass.

Not only did I see the ecologically friendly Suncheon City, I also experienced the joy of living with a Korean family.

Beside me is Tina, my beautiful and kind homestay host!

Initially, I was concerned about traveling solo and staying with an unfamiliar family for 3 days and 2 nights. I voiced these concerns with BnB Hero and they helpfully arranged things for me. They recommended a nice apartment room for me that’s owned by a very kind woman named Tina.

Breakfast was included in the deal, and woah, what a big breakfast it was! It was my first real Korean breakfast that’s not in the school dormitory, kekeke. Tina and her husband cooked it together. What a loving family there are.

Tina also spoke English well, as she was an English teacher. So for foreigners like me who are worried about communication barriers, there’s nothing like that when you stay with Tina.

There were a lot of beautiful gardens in the Expo! One whole day is not enough to explore! You need two—or more!

I also feel I got lucky in my first homestay. The room was clean, the host was nice, and she even accompanied me in some trips, like at the Suncheon Bay Garden Expo and at the Suncheon Drama Set!

The awesomely serene Suncheon Bay! Entrance came free with my Garden Expo ticket purchase. There’s also a free shuttle to take you there. Easy-peasy! ^^

A panoramic shot of the Suncheon Drama Set. Entrance also came free with my purchase of a Garden Expo ticket. Just take Bus 777 to get here. But luckily, for me, Tina kindly accompanied me!

All in all, this trip made me braver in terms of traveling solo. Korea is such a safe and easy place to travel around in. And with the help of BnB Hero, your travel is bound to be safe, easy, economical and fun!

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Ultra Korea 2013

Volunteer work + Dancing + Watching Koreans and Foreigners Go Crazy. June 14, 2013 at Jamsil Sports Complex. This is also my last assignment with Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) since I am back in Bangkok for more…studying. T.T Thanks for making my spring semester in Seoul a semester to remember, KTO! ^^

This is Ultra Korea, a big, big, big crazy-cool event that involves dancing, drinking and going crazy

We had to get our wristbands/tickets in this booth.

And then pass by this tight security check.

After which we did our volunteer work for KTO – distributing these leaflets!

We watched these people go by.

And then we took this commemmorative photo of us.

I don’t know who this DJ is, but he cranked out good music.]

In Ultra Korea….

This is how crazy it gets.

And of course, you gotta meet characters like this. Dance with him? At the next Ultra Korea in Seoul, please do. ^^

 

Rainbow Island Festival 2013 @ Nami-som: “Coachella”, Korea-style

We had a triple treat at Nami Island during the Rainbow Island Festival held from 7-9 June 2013. First, there was our delicious dakgalbi, a spicy chicken dish that’s famous in the area.
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And then, there was the view of the island itself.
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We loved walking along this tree-lined path.
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And of course there was the “obligatory” homage to THE drama of all Hallyu dramas, Winter Sonata.
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But what really gave us a kick was riding the duck boat. At times, the water would be as serene as monk’s prayer. But once the tourists riding the speedboats zoom in, big waves would start violently rocking us from side to side. Stress!!!
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And then there was a bit of history for Korea geeks like us. Here is General Nami’s tomb, from whom the island was named after.
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Walking a bit further took us to our third treat, the three-day music and camping extravanganza that is the Rainbow Island Festival!
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Thanks to Korea Tourism Organization, I got free tickets for me and my friend.
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I didn’t know all the artists, but I knew who I came for.
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Clazziquai (pictured here) and…Travis!!! But my camera ran our of juice even before I can take a good picture of T. T.T
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But it’s also great to “discover” other Korean artists to start listening to.
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Another great thing was to see pleasant surprises such as this one — our Philippine banner!
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All in all, my first time at the Rainbow Island Festival is surely one of my best Korea memories EVER!

Thanks for giving me great spring semester to remember, KTO!

P.S. Here’s a video of Clazziquai performing 핑 (Ping). It was awesome! And oh, yeah, that’s me shouting at the background. Hihihi. ^^

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R-16 B-Boy Festival at Uijeongbu City (featuring Morning of Owl)!

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This is the video of the winning performance of Korean B-Boy crew Morning of Owl
at the Uijeongbu Arts Center in Uijeongbu City, Korea. They were up against Drifterz Crew.

I can see why the judges had a unanimous decision. They had amazing stage presence, they can work up a crowd, and they have awe-inspiring dance moves. Plus, they’re cute. Hehehe! ^^

Thanks to Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) for this one-of-a-kind opportunity! I didn’t mind the almost 2-hour train ride from Seoul to Uijeongbu City just to see hot Korean B-boys. Korean B-boys are the best!

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Happy Bike Tour with KTO: Bike tour from Hanam to Yeoju in Gyeonggi, South Korea (24 May 2013)

I know how to ride a bike and I think it’s fun. So when Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) invited K-Performance Supporters to the Happy Bike Tour from Hanam to Yeoju in Gyeonggi province in South Korea, I immediately signed up.

But I didn’t know it involved hardcore biking with this kind of opening ceremony…

…and this complete set of biking gear.

But I suppose people like us are game for anything.

So when this band set us off…

Off we went.

I enjoyed looking at the beautiful scenery around Gyeonggi province.

I also enjoyed taking pictures of everyone like this.

But I soon realized that this really is a contest of sorts, when I was informed that I really came in late, and that I had to take the bus to the finish line because of the tight schedule.

But this didn’t prevent me from enjoying the scenery.

I like seeing cute scenes from Koreans’ daily life, like this.

So thank you again, KTO, for giving us the chance to go around Gyeonggi by bike! Ah, and in this photo is one of the staff who cheered us on and took care of all of us while biking. Hwaiting! ^^

Seongju Life Culture Festival

May 17, 2013

The long trip to Seongju–land of yummy melons and the resting place of the Placenta Jars of the Sons of King Sejong the Great–took almost five hours by bus. May 17 was a holiday, and a huge number of Seoul-lites had the same idea as us international students—road trip!!!

Arriving in Seongju a few minutes before 1:00PM made us feel famished. We were ready to eat anything. And everything on this table looked yummy! 행복마을 기사식당 prepaerd yummy dishes for us Korea Performance Supporters and our friends!

Among the banchan on the table, this was the most special. It’s pickled melons made from Seongju’s famous melons. The sweet-sour combo tickles one’s taste buds.

After lunch, we were given a special tour of 한개 Village by the village president himself. He made us pay special attention to how different the walls are on the right and on the left.  According to him, the craftsmanship of these two walls reflects the time period when these were made. The wall on the left, with its smooth finish, is newly made. The wall on the right, with its rough and ragged appearance, is an authentic Joseon era wall.

Personally, I like the ragged wall better. It still stands strong up to this day despite its seemingly poorly made and weatherbeaten appearance.

As a foreigner, I can’t get over the beauty of the 한옥. I’ve seen a lot of these houses in Seoul, but seeing more of these in Seongju still excites me.

I hope I can have the chance to live in an actual 한옥 someday. That’s my wish.

The village president is a lucky guy. He lived in this grand Joseon era house as a kid. This is his ancestral house.

According to him, men and women lived in separate houses during the Joseon era. And just this week, I learned from my professor that a Joseon wife’s living space is called 안방, and only her husband and children can go there.

A husband’s living space is outside the compound, and looks grander than the wife’s living space.

Should we just make peace with this part of history?

As long as there is a roof over people’s heads?

 

Either way, we K-Performance Supporters were too happy to tour this village.

Next, we went to the Life Culture Festival.
There was a traditional tea ceremony booth, the elegance of which was just breathtaking.
There were life-size dioaramas depicting Joseon life. This one shows us a yangban wedding.
This one shows us ancestor worship during the Joseon period.
This nice 아저씨 patiently taught my friends how to properly do ancestor worship.
And then there were melons.
Melons!
Melons everywhere!
There was also a booth on how to make crafts.
There was also a booth on how to take care of babies.
Practice makes perfect, I suppose.
Either way, I think I am better at working and studying. And seeing Korea with my curious foreigner’s eyes. Thanks Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) and BnBHero for this awesome trip!

K-Performance Supporters Welcoming Party!!!

On 5 April 2013, the Korea Tourism Organization held the most 대박 이벤트 for people who love Korean culture and performing arts, also known as K-Peformance Supporters. As part of the Season 2 K-Performance Supporters, me and my friend were invited to the welcoming party at the Gangnam K-Pop Concert Hall together with the other Season 1 and Season 2 supporters. We went there for a night of food, fun and awesome performances by some of the K-pop world’s up-and-coming music groups. We all feel 운이 있 for being given the chance to be K-Performance Supporters. We’re all excited to see and experience the best of Korea’s culture…and to blog about it to the world!
More photos of the K-Performance Supporters welcoming party are in my Facebook page. Please take a look by clicking the link below! 보세요!