How do I even start to write about the trip that I’d been dreaming of since I was 13? I’ve been thinking how I could properly record this memory and I couldn’t come up with the best plan. There’s just too many things to say about everything that happened during our 5-day trip to Korea. One thing I know for sure is that it’s definitely the best trip of my life. I want to cry just by thinking about it and I’m not even exaggerating. Heh.
It’s no secret that I love Korea. The amount of ‘congratulations’ and ‘I’m so happy for you’ I received the past week can attest to that. Heh. I guess I’m not so quiet about my Korya trip. How could I? How could I possibly contain my excitement?!?
I actually thought we wouldn’t push through with this trip. A week before our trip, we still didn’t have our tourist Visa and a day before the trip, we still didn’t have a place to stay in. We also had some problems with money matters, and we figured that this trip wouldn’t exactly be cheap. I didn’t even finish packing before going to Makati that week because I already believed that this trip was no more. I didn’t want to expect too much. But my parents agreed to go through with it and I almost cried! /sigh
Our flight was scheduled on 1:20 AM, April 19, 2012. I filed for a three-day leave since we’d be staying for 5 days. Good thing we have relatives who volunteered to take us to the airport! Whoosh. We arrived at around 10PM and gave us enough time to check in and eat dinner. We also didn’t have to wait long, and I hate waiting especially when I’m so excited. Hee.
It was also the first time my sister and I wore boots! We’re not exactly fashion forward, and dressing up in the Philippines is just too bothersome. However, we’ve heard A LOT of things about the fashion in Korea and we watch tons of Kdramas, anyway, to know that we should really dress up a little. Also, it was probably the only place we could ever wear boots! Let’s abuse that opportunity, shall we? (I’ll never understand people who wear boots here. Unless it’s raining. Or cold.) My boots are kind of childish, though. But hey, I got it on sale so I don’t care.
We waited for less than an hour before we could finally board the plane. Surprise! I saw a grade school classmate who probably no longer knows me. I kept staring at her because
she’s pretty I’m waiting for her to recognize. But she gave no sigh of recognition. Oh well.
I tried so hard to sleep in the plane since we’d be landing at around 6AM, leaving no time for us to sleep at all. I do not want to spend too much time resting once we arrive. We only had five days and I want to make the most out of it! But I couldn’t sleep at all. I only had about 2 hours of sleep, and I convinced myself that I could function well without decent sleep. And I did. Ha! I was drunk on fangirl spirit.
We arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule, or maybe I got the time confused since South Korea’s an hour ahead. It didn’t really sink in that easily. I had a hard time convincing myself that I’m in Korea. Home of KPOP and oppas and saranghe. Or maybe because I was still in the airport and besides the signs written in Korean and the staff all Koreans, I could probably still be in the Philippines.
I only fully absorbed (??) that I was in Korea when we stepped outside the airport. I had never felt so cold in my life. I think it was 6 degrees outside. And I though Spring wouldn’t be so cold! It was the coldest I had ever experienced. I love it.
We didn’t get to take that much photos in the airport because our bus would leave in 5 minutes. Our bus stop (Bus #6011 – Sungkyunkwan Station) was on the other side of the airport so we had to move quickly. Huhu. I only got one shot inside the airport where 3/4 of Kdramas film. It broke my heart a little. But still! I was in Korea, and at that point, nothing could break my spirit.
Incheon is beautiful. Though we only saw a vast space of land, I still think it’s beautiful. It’s amazing how they lined up the streets with spring flowers, and I had my first glance of cherry blossoms! Not all trees were in full bloom, though. Spring’s only starting and it was still quite cold, but it’s the type of cold that I can tolerate and definitely love.
I didn’t want to sleep because I didn’t want to miss anything. Besides, there’s a showbiz magazine in every seat. I couldn’t understand anything but I still enjoyed browsing through it. After a couple of minutes, I fell asleep! Good thing I didn’t sleep the whole way through. I was too afraid that we’d miss our stop.
The trip was quite enjoyable anyway because hey, I was in Korea! I could be faced with the sight of traffic and I’d think, “OMG, I’m stuck in traffic! In Korea!” And yes, there’s a little traffic but it was tolerable. It gave me more chance to take in everything. We passed by a lot of universities (Hongdae, Ewha, etc.) and a couple of palaces, too. I was surprised to see palaces in the middle of the city! But I notice how it’s not out of place at all. Yep, a palace in the middle of a bustling city seems so commonplace.
We stayed at Backpackers Mr. Sea in Jongno-gu, Seoul and rented a family room. It was cheaper than expected but the place was nice. The room reminds me of a Kdrama heroine’s apartment. Ha! But it was really nice and there’s this one staff who’s really cute. OMG. My sister and I were like, parang model! He arrived just after us and when he took of us his jacket with this adorable look on his face… swoon.
Once we had unpacked, we realized that we forgot a lot of things such as shampoo and conditioner! My sister and I decided to buy what we forgot to bring (it was a lot!). To our surprise, they don’t sell shampoo nor conditioner at convenience stores! And instant coffee on sachets! I remember this one thing my college instructor told me, how other countries don’t sell tingi-tingi products. Okay.
On our way back to our hostel, we passed by this one store that sells odeng fish cake (fish paste)! There’s a photo of H.O.T. outside so we claimed that they probably ate there ages ago. We decided to try it out because we’ve been dying to try their street food since our first Kdrama. H! And jsyk, Byunghee’s friends (Eye Candy!) ate odeng after his funeral. Yes, I just need to drop a Shut up! Flower Boy Band reference every chance I get. Also, my father’s nickname is Odeng. Haha!
It was soooooo good. Of all the street food we tasted during our visit, it’s definitely my favorite. It doesn’t taste like fish at all. The sauce tastes amazing okay, and they give you a broth that you drink straight from the bowl. It was perfect to eat in that type of weather. A stick of odeng costs W1,000 which is pretty cheap already. (W1,000 = 40PHP)
It was also the first time I really interacted with a local. My sister said I asked too many questions but hey, I’m a tourist and a traveler. What’s the point of visiting another country if you won’t even try to learn more about it? Sure, we’ve been watching Kdramas and Kmovies for eight years but it’s adefinitely better to experience everything firsthand. So yes, I felt no shame talking to the locals even if they didn’t really understand me. Good thing I could read a litte Hangul. Also, there are other ways to express yourself besides words. I enjoy talking to them! They’re awfully nice people even if we have troubles understanding each other. (I do wish I learned Korean before going to Korea. My Korean class is scheduled too late.)
We had wasted too many precious time already so we decided to go to the nearest palace first before eating lunch. We asked around and learned that we could simply walk to Changgyeonggung Palace. They said we could reach it in 10 minutes but I guess we’re not fast enough walkers. Haha. It was almost lunch so the sun’s pretty harsh already but thanks to the lovely wind, the temperature’s stillunbelievably nice. I loved, loved, loved the weather, okay.
On our way to the palace, we passed by this amazing wall! I’m not sure if it’s the same wall that seems to appear at all times in Korean shows but it’s so pretty anyway. We also passed by children on a field trip. SO CUTE! Korean kids are so adorable. And so disciplined, too. There’s only one teacher leading a group of children who seem to be walking in a buddy system. I kept waving at them and I was so happy that they waved back. They’d even say ‘Hello!’ when I say ‘Hi!’ I also noticed that many boys were sporting curly hairstyle! My sister and I couldn’t figure out whether they had it permed or they’re just naturally curly.
I was completely blown away when we entered the Palace. The outside is beautiful already, and if you’re wondering, there’s an entrance fee of W1,000. Anyway, we first see a bridge with a line of trees on the side. It looked straight out of a postcard! We didn’t join a tour inside the palace and decided to just go around on our own. The place is just so beautiful and I couldn’t help but wonder how it looked during winter. It was also the first time that I got close to the spring flowers of Seoul and I don’t know, I think I teared up a little inside. Heh.
Of course, we went shooting photos right away. Good thing I brought a tripod with me! I’m tired of not being in the photo. Heh.
It was my first taste of South Korea’s preserved culture. It’s amazing how much history they have managed to save. Despite their advancement in technology, they never forget to give importance to their history. And whenever people ask me what I love about Korea, this is the first reason that comes to mind. Good-looking men only come second. I swear.
Besides school children, the place was also crawling with ajummas and ajusshis! They’re the cutest. They often walk around in groups, and everyone’s wearing a colorful windbreaker. I was also amazed at how the harabuji’s seem to take photography quite seriously. Many of them were lugging around big cameras and tripods. I can’t imagine my lolo taking photography as a hobby. Heh.
I actually thought that when we visit palaces, I’d only see foreign tourists. But the Koreans outnumber the foreign tourists, and I definitely believe that’s a good sign.
My parents loved this thing where you can throw coins. My father was quite good at it. A passing Korean grandfather applauded when my father did it right. So kyot.
The place has this relaxing aura. I swear I could just spend an entire afternoon in that place, find a good spot, and read a book. Or sleep. There were also tons of paths and I could already imagine myself jogging along them. Ha! It also didn’t hurt that spring flowers are amazing. Cherry blossoms are lovely, of course, but the other flowers pose as pretty tough competition in the beauty department. (I obviously am running out of positive descriptions!)
By the time we finished our Changgyeonggung Palace tour, it was already 2PM! We were starving, and they said that the nearest dining places were at Sungkyunkwan. That’s where we’re staying at! We had to walk all the way back to where we started. It was a surprise we didn’t faint out of hunger. Haha.
So this wraps up the first part of our day 1. I decided to chop up my posts in many parts because there are too many photos! I do hope that I’d be able to finish writing about our trip before the end of this month, while everything’s still fresh in my memory.