Fall in Korea Day 2: Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan

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When I reached the top of Gamcheon Culture Village, I wanted to shout, “Hello Busan!”

The view was pretty spectacular, and I knew that we made the right decision to visit the village and to forgo other popular attractions in the province. Nestled in a residential area of Taegukdo Village, Gamcheon has blossomed into a popular tourist attraction, far from the shanties that it used to be, back when it served as a home for war refugees.

I did a little research before going, and it was interesting to learn that after the Korean War, hundreds of families flocked to this little area in Busan to start a new life. The village is named after the religion Taegeukdo, in which most, if not all, the residents were followers. Now, the number of residents had drastically decreased from 20,000 to around 10,000, leaving most of the houses empty. Though the Taegeukdo temple in the area is still visited by believers, most of the residents of the village are no longer followers of the faith.

The local government had been hands on in transforming the little village into an arts and culture hub, while still maintaining its traditional identity. True to this, the commercialization has made little changes in the landscape of Gamcheon, only making the blank walls and streets a lot livelier with colors.

These days, the main roads are flooded by tourists, but some nooks and crannies are untouched by commercialization. I’m pretty the Hallyu wave helped popularize the village, thanks to shows like Running Man and We Got Married using it as a filming location. Continue reading

Coffee in the Mountain: Mt. Manabu, Sto. Tomas, Batangas

mt manabu sto tomas batangas Almost three years since my traumatizing experience climbing Pico de Loro, I decided to give hiking another try. They promised me that it’d be easy, and besides, it would only be a day hike. So off I went with my former officemates to give mountain climbing another shot.

Mt. Manabu is located in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, and I foolishly didn’t realize that it’s just a stone’s throw away from my home in Laguna. I’ve been surrounded by mountains all my life, but I didn’t really know the names of these mountains surrounding our town. At least now I know Manabu!

Coined from the words “mataas na bundok,” Mt. Manabu is actually not that high. Though it’s listed as the highest mountain in the Calabarzon area, it only took us about two hours to reach the top. Please note that we are amateur climbers. It’s definitely perfect for beginners (like moi) and for those who are only looking for a leisurely climb.

On Saturday, we met up in Buendia to ride a bus to Lipa, Batangas. From SM Lipa, we only had to ride a tricycle to reach the foot of the mountain. We didn’t plan to hire a guide, but since none of us had been there before, we decided to get one. Continue reading

My Two-Month Unemployment in Instagram Photos

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For the past two months, I had been hibernating in Laguna while waiting for the “perfect job” to come my way. It’s a long and frustrating search after an impulsive decision to resign from my previous job. Though technically, I wasn’t a complete bum. I worked freelance for a month, but it doesn’t feel like “real” work when I do it at home in my PJ’s while watching anime.

At the middle of it, I started thinking that maybe I can just work at home full-time. But I realized that if I did so, I’d end up becoming a hermit. I can honestly not leave our house for five days straight. I’m a homebody first, wannabe traveler second. To save the socializing skills I somehow managed to practice in the past five years, I decided that an office-based job is the way to go.

Alas, last week had been quite miraculous when I received multiple job offers just when I was ready to give up. I honestly thought no company would like to hire me again (because my self-esteem is low like that). I thought I’d receive a backlash when I received a few job offers in January and decided to decline everything, due to different reasons. So I felt grateful when I got accepted in some companies, and I promised that this time, I will make a decision and pull through it all. It’s stupid to wait around for a “perfect” job because there will always be a downside. You just have to realize that some pros will always outweigh the cons.

After a week of torturous decision-making, I finally made my choice. No matter what choice I made, I realized that I won’t be on a losing end. So writing down the pros and cons of my options, I’m finally back in the workforce.

On Friday, I said goodbye to unemployment and said hello to working again in Makati. It was both good and bad. Good, because yay work! Bad, because I barely talked to anyone and I missed my old officemates. And worse, I learned that I’d be on a night shift in a few weeks’ time. I am contemplating whether I made the right decision, but I’m here now and there’s no turning back.

But I’m not here to talk about work. I’m here to talk about my joyous days in Laguna where I did nothing but eat and stay in front of the computer for days. It’s what I’d like to call a perfect life. Continue reading

Hwangso-Ga Korean Buffet in Ermita, Manila

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My mother celebrated her birthday last month, but it’s difficult to arrange a dinner with all of us present. It was only last Sunday when we had a proper celebratory dinner. Since ate’s the one treating us, she chose the restaurant!

We headed to Hwangso-ga in Ermita, Manila, which is a Korean buffet restaurant along Adriatico St. It’s across the street from Robinson’s Place Manila so it’s easy to find. It’s also beside Mak Chang where we had dinner last time.

Though they didn’t have the best-tasting samgyupsal in town, I still immensely enjoyed dinner. I know that samgyupsal and bulgogi are the most popular dishes Korean dishes in the country, but I love Korean food in general. That’s why I’m glad that the restaurant had other offerings aside from the unlimited samgyup and brisket. Woohoo.

We arrived at Hwangsoga at around 8 p.m., so there weren’t that many diners. However, the buffet table was still filled with all the yummy Korean dishes. Continue reading

Fall in Korea Day 3: Sunrise at Haeundae Beach, Busan

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Waking up at 5 in the morning doesn’t seem possible when you get home everyday past 11PM and don’t go to sleep until way past midnight. But for our last day in Busan, we decided that we will wake up before the sunrise at Haeundae Beach no matter what.

Initially, it was just Kimpee and me who planned to watch the sunrise, but Jinky and Iris decided to go with us, too. I was in charged of checking the time the sun rises in Busan, and Kimpee was tasked to wake us up in the morning. Good thing we stayed in Hi Korea Hostel because it was just minutes away from Haeundae Beach.

Barely conscious, we dragged ourselves from the hostel to the beach. It was freezing! I didn’t get to check the temperature, but I had never felt colder in my life. On our way, we saw joggers dressed so thinly, and some were even wearing shorts. We hugged ourselves even tighter.

When we arrived at the beach, we didn’t know what to do because it was so dark. We thought the sun would rise at 5:30 and it was already past the time. Yet, the sun is nowhere in sight.

It wasn’t so scary since there were already joggers running the length of the beach and there were lights on the road. We didn’t really know what to do because it seemed like the sun had no plans of showing.

While we were discussing what to do, an ahjumma (older lady) approached us. She was friendly and asked us where we’re from. She was excited to learn that we’re from the Philippines, because apparently her brother’s staying here.

When she told us to come with her, we hesitated at first because how can we just follow a stranger? But we detected no sign of danger from the kind lady so we just went along.
Continue reading

Fall in Korea Day 2: Fried Chicken Night at Gwangalli Beach, Busan

gwangalli beach busan korea 광안리해수욕장 When I think back on our travel to Korea, I always fondly remember our night at Gwangalli Beach.

It was the last destination for a very tiring day. After being disappointed that we failed to arrive at our previous itinerary stop before closing time, we were desperately hoping that the beach wouldn’t disappoint. There are tons of beaches in Busan, and we decided to head to this one first.

Despite lacking sleep and energy, I can’t help but think it’s definitely one of our best nights in Korea. We didn’t really do anything in Gwangalli Beach, we just sat there and talked and ate and laughed and sang our hearts out. I guess we’re the group of friends who just can’t keep quiet when we’re together. We’re actually a bunch of introverts, but we bring out the extroverts in each other. That’s probably the sweetest thing I can say about my friends, heh.

There were no stunning scenery nor were there attractions. We couldn’t even take decent photos since it was too dark out. Yet, I only have warm and happy memories when I remember that night. This probably sounds so sappy, but it was indeed such a good memory. Continue reading