Sunday, September 29, 2013

3 Beautiful Facets of Gyeongju

South Korea has a lot of very interesting places to offer to both tourists and expatriates. I have been to several places of South Korea and I was really amazed with the idea that all those famous attractions that I only saw on TV were standing tall right in front of my eyes. The most memorable place I have visited so far is Gyeongju city which is located in the Southeastern part of Korea in Gyeongsangbuk-do Province.

Photo station at the Gyeongju Historic Area acknowledged by UNESCO World Heritage


Almost Missed It.

Since I discovered that I have some acquaintances-slash-adopted-relatives-slash-neighbors-slash-aunties living in the southeast part of South Korea, I planned to visit them. The problem is, I don’t have ample time to do it because their place is almost 8 hours away from my place. During the Chuseok holidays, I have this 2 days opportunity to visit them at Gyeongju. It was my first time to travel that time and I almost missed that trip because I slept late the night before. I was with friends the previous day touring around Seoul and I was so tired the next day that I needed to exert too much effort to drag myself off from bed. The adventurous part of me reminded me that I don’t have any more chance to go to Gyeongju if I will let this day pass. I finally convinced myself, and the verdict is to pursue my plan to travel to Gyeongju and I left my humble abode that cold early morning.

The Start of the Journey.

Based on my readings (Thanks to Google for helping me out), one of the many ways to go to Gyeongju is to go to the Seoul Express Bus Terminal. The Express Bus Terminal can be reached via Seoul subway line numbers  3 and 7 and go to exit number 2. You can also take Line number 9 and take exit number 11. The fare from the Express Bus Terminal to Gyeongju City is 30,000 won. You can also take KTX at Seoul Station which is a little bit expensive than the bus. The day trip to Gyeongju from Seoul travel time is approximately 4 to 5 hours. I bought two bus tickets, back and forth. Good thing I can speak a little bit of Korean language so I was able to explain to the ticket vendor the schedule of travel I desire. Since I am expecting a long travel, I decided to come back the next day so I can stay there overnight.

Tickets from Seoul to Gyeongju


The Long Travel.

What was supposed to be a 4 hours travel turned out to be a 7 hours travel and I was reminded that Chuseok holidays usually is congested with people and cars. The main challenges are traffic and long lines in the public comfort rooms during the two stops. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the trip eventhough that some passengers have almost lost their patience and gone haywire because of the long travel. The ajumma besides me starts getting irritated with my constant question “Are we there yet?”. I think I asked her for the nth time, that was me being worried if I took the right bus and the right destination. We left at 11:10 am and we arrived at Gyeongju at 6:30 pm. That was a whooping more than 7 hours of travel.

Beautiful Gyeongju.

But all my worries had been wiped out and all my efforts had been paid off when I arrived at the well gated community of Gyeongju. My heart stopped beating for like 10 seconds in awe of the beautiful paradise that awaits me. I said, “Wow, this place is a real treasure”. You know and you can feel the Korean rich culture through the ambiance of the place. 

The entrance to Beautiful Gyeongju


My aunt was already waiting for me at the bus terminal when I arrived and it was nice seeing her after she left our hometown for more than a decade.

Fact about Gyeongju.

Gyeonngju city was the capital of Silla Kingdom from 57 BC to AD 935. That was more or less 992 years of ruling and it is considered the longest period of any dynasty in the History of Korea. Gyeongju was previously known by the names Seorabeol and Gyerim and adapted the name Gyeongju after AD 935. 

First beauty revealed: The Architectures.

What makes Gyeongju beautiful is the historic ambiance of architectures that you can see almost everywhere. It’s like an open air museum. In fact, you don’t need to go to a museum to experience and see the feel of the Silla Kingdom. The place contains all the historic places and historic houses and historic sceneries that you feel like you have traveled in time back to the days when this place was still the capital of the Silla Kingdom. And because it was the capital city, all the relics of Silla Kingdom have been scattered all around the city. 

Symbol of Silla Dynasty and Gyeongju. You can see these almost everywhere in Gyeongju.


The residents of the city upheld their duty to preserve their cultural heritage and you can see their efforts by just looking at the designs of their houses. Most of the buildings there still follow the design of the old Silla Kingdom. This is their way of preserving their historical pride. This makes the place an open air museum because by just walking down the lane of Gyeongju, you are already witnessing the cultural heritage of the city.


Buildings. Houses. Fences. All were built based on historic Silla Dynasty architectural designs.

Second beauty revealed: The Night Life.

Despite having a laid back ambiance, Gyeongju city have awesome night life to offer to those of you night owls. Since I arrived there at early night time, my aunt brought me to a group of Filipinos who are planning to go to Norae Bang that night for a weekend party. Norae Bang or Videoke Bar is one of the many things you can do at night time at Gyeongju. Although the place is not as loud as in Suwon and in Seoul, you can sing your heart out until midnight without having any troubles.

Norae Bang with Filipino Community at Gyeongju


Night time is simply beautiful at Gyeongju and pretty safe that we took along with us the kids to join us for that late night escapade. I really had fun spending my night with the Filipino Community at Gyeongju and I swear I could spend more nights like that without dull moments. 

Night Life at Gyeongju



Gyeongju looks different at night than in the daytime. It could be because of the colorful lights that it subdued the supposed to be historical feel of the place.

Third beauty revealed: The tourist Attractions.

There are a lot of Gyeongju attractions that tourists can enjoy that one or two days are not enough to explore the place. Several spots of Gyeongju are reflecting the history of the place that it receives a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. From a late night escapade last evening, we left the apartment as early as possible the next day because I have to go back to Seoul in the afternoon. Since I don’t have enough time, we visited the Gyeongju historic area situated in the heart of city, the nearest tourist attraction so far from my aunt’s place. In this park, I was in awe when I saw these humungous hills that scattered everywhere in the area. My aunt explained that these are not simply hills but grassy burial moulds that hold the tombs of Silla Kings. Wow, there are actually kings buried in these tombs. The Cheomsangdae Observatory was also there, it’s amazing that the old relic you just read from books is already right there in front of you.

The Tombs of Kings at Gyeongju Historical Area.


Aside from the tombs and the Cheomsangdae Observatory, the nature park is a place where you can sit and relax with nature. 

Cheomsangdae observatory


There are also numerous Buddhist temples and statues that you can see everywhere in the area and the chariot type of transportation is an additional tourist attraction. Tourists can experience the ride for a fee though.

All around the historic area


As I’ve said, one day is not enough to really savor the beauty of tourist attraction of Gyeongju. I should have visited the Gyeongju Anapji Pond, or the Bomun Lake, or get lost in the Gyeongju tower, and of course the most famous attraction of Gyeongju- the Bulguksa Temple.

I’ll be back Gyeongju.

If there is one word that could define Gyeongju, it is BEAUTIFUL. I have stayed there for merely 24 hours and I somehow fell in love with the place. I guess the formula for it being beautiful is the brave preservation of the place despite the world’s modernization and the value that the people have invested to their cultural heritage. No wonder several Korean TV series and movies selected Gyeongju to shot some of their scenes.  A thousand years have already passed after the fall of Silla, but you can still feel the air of the dynasty at Gyeongju. On that note, I will surely go back there, with more time and more preparation, I will make an extraordinary trip to Gyeongju next time.


Thank you to the Filipino community at Gyeongju who despite me being peculiar to them, they welcomed me and made me feels that I belong. Thank you to Auntie Remy Estonina and family and to Santiago family for adopting me for my two days stay there. Until we meet again.


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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

1 Million Thanks For Making Saranghae Korea An Emerging Influential Blog of 2013

Guess what!!! After 8 months of its existence in the blogosphere, Saranghae Korea has reached a milestone as it is ranked number 10 in the Top 10 Emerging Influential Blog 2013.



Somebody from the Digital Influencer Philippines emailed me with an invitation to attend a Digital Influencer Summit in Manila last September 21, 2013 because my blog has been included in the Top 10 Emerging Influential Blog of 2013 and the awarding will be conducted during the summit. Unfortunately, I was not able to make it to the summit because I am here in South Korea. God knows how I regretted not to attend the event because it should be the best opportunity to meet some awesome and expert social media influencers in their respective expertise.

Thank you to the Digital Influencer Team headed by Ms. Janette Toral. It's overwhelming to see my blog on your top 10 list. Thank you for spearheading this event.



I should not let this chance to thank all of you who have been part of this success. First and foremost, I thank all the bloggers who nominated and voted my blog. Thank you for believing in this little hideout of mine and find it worthy to land a spot on this prestigious award. I couldn't mention all of you but from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I would like to extend also my gratitude to the following groups in Facebook:

OFW in Korea
Korea's Finest EPS Workers
Pinoy EPS in Korea

These groups are my avenues to share my links to my most important target market, the OFWs here in Korea. These groups have been very helpful in promoting my links, through these, I was able to reach out to my fellow OFWs and some of them have been converted from curious clickers into regular readers. Super thank you to the administrators for allowing my links to be posted on the timeline as well as the members who showed their support to my blog.

Thank you also to all the readers, may it be a one time visit or a patron reader, you are the reason why I continue this advocate.

Of course, everything is for the Glory of our Almighty Creator. Thank you for the wisdom and for the guidance and for making me an instrument to educate people through this blog.

SaranghaeKorea has started with an idea. An idea to influence people, an idea to educate readers and an idea to reach out to fellow OFWs through the social media called Blogging. This award reminds me that I am indeed on the right track in pursuing this advocate.

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU ALL.

Saranghae!!!

To God Be The Glory.
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

6 Korean Traditional Culture and Lifestyle in Korean Folk Village

If you are in to learn more about traditional Korean culture and life, go to the Korean Folk Village which is located at Yongin, in the province of Gyeongi, South Korea. What Korean Folk Village can offer is a very interesting and fun approach in showcasing the traditional culture and life of Koreans. The limelight of K-pop and K-dramas are just merely the façade of the modern age Korea, but behind the glittering and shining fame of the land of the calm morning is the rich history that is worth telling for throughout the generation.



South Korea has brought to the world the Korean Folk Village as a way of telling to the new generation Koreans and to the foreigners who are interested to learn about Korea about their traditional way of living which would represent as a concrete definition of their culture and life.

At Korean Folk Village, they have a lot of facilities that could entertain all the visitors and at the same time convey an atmosphere of learning about old age Korea. Here are the facilities that you can enjoy at the Korean Folk Village:

1. Korean Traditional Houses, Education and Administration

What is a village without houses? What is a community without shelter? What you could probably expect from this place is a whole load of houses, but not just an ordinary house. If you are a fanatic of Korean dramas, you could have probably seen some examples of old style Korean houses. The houses have different designs and styles and the design of the house defines the status of the family living there. Your social status is the basis of what type of house you should live in.

 In the Southern part of the village, you can see this type of house with a lot of crops displayed in the outside. This is actually a farmer’s house:



This is how it looks like in the inner wing of the house. Somebody is also demonstrating what Korean farmers are usually doing inside their house.




You can also see how the commoner’s house looks like and also the peasant and the manor’s house.



Korean education has been the top most priority since the beginning of their civilization. Among the type of their education is the Chunghyon Seowon. It is a private educational institution which caters to Confucian scholars.



And this is the old Korean administration building looks like. This is where administrative duties are being implemented. This is where they used to punish bad citizens.



2. Korean Ceremonies and Religious Belief

At Korean Folk Village, they perform the actual wedding ceremonies and the actual worship service they offer to the God that they believe in.



Be entertained on how they commemorate special occasions and at the same time learn from it.

3. Korean Festival and Entertainment

I think it is innate for Koreans to have some fun because even the old age Korea has their own way of entertaining themselves. You can witness an acrobatic on tightrope:



The farmer’s dance and music is also featured for the visitors to enjoy with their fun performance in a colorful costume:



And the most amazing part of entertainment is the showcase of the equestrian skill:



4. Korean Folk Games

All around the village, you can also get to experience playing some of the famous Korean folk games like skipping rope. Kids would really enjoy this and at the same time get to know these old street games of Korean ancestors.



5. Korean traditional market

Experience how it feels like to shop in a traditional market of South Korea. You can dine, you can shop and you can witness what people are generally doing in old age Korean market.



6. Korean Folk Museum

Museums will never be absent when it comes to conveying information regarding a theme. In this case, a museum situated in the center of the village showcases the traditional way of living of Koreans from farming, to lifestyle and livelihood.



Aside from the Korean traditional lifestyles, the amusement park and the bridges and the landscapes are an added bonus to the totality of going back in time experience in South Korea.



Korea Folk village is recommended as a venue for learning. In a way, this is their tribute to their ancestors to acknowledge their effort to make Korea a better place to live.

If you want to visit, the exact address of Korean Folk Village is 90, Minsokchon-ro, Giheung-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do [경기도 용인시 기흥구 민속촌로 90 (보라동) ].  The easiest way to go to this place is to get off the Suwon Station via the Seoul Subway Line Number 1. Go to the Exit number 4 and take a bus number 10-5 or 37 to the Korean Folk Village. There is also a shuttle bus which you can ride for free. Just go to the Folk Village Office which is located in front of the Suwon Station. The shuttle bus runs 5 times a day.

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

2 Exhibition Halls of Teddy Bear Museum at N Seoul Tower Depict Korea's History and Culture

TEDDDYYYY BEAAARRRSSS!!!!!.... These cute stuff admired by many have been the symbol of love. When you like somebody, you can give him or her a teddy bear just to let the person know how much you care for them. But here in South Korea, Teddy Bears are more than just an enigma of love and care. There exists a so called Teddy Bear Museum at N Seoul Tower, but these are not just ordinary teddy bears because these little and lovely stuff have a task to do, to tell you the history of Korea and to show to you the Korean culture and traditions. Lovely isn't it?

The Teddy bear museum has two halls, the first hall is a diorama of Seoul that roots back from the Joseon Dynasty. The second hall on the other hand is a diorama of Modern Korea. Let me give you a special treat by showing to you what's inside these halls through the lens of my camera.

In the first hall, you will walk down memory lane. It's like a time machine that would let you travel back to the Joseon Dynasty. You will be welcomed by these big bear in its traditional aura. This is how teddy bears used to look like.


When you enter the hall, these teddy bears (some of them are actually moving), shows how Koreans in ancient days manually labored to build buildings. There are no machines yet during that time, ergo manual construction is the only way to build houses.



You can also see these musical band with the performers wearing the old traditional Korean clothing. This means that Koreans are really into music ever since their civilization begun.


This one shows the traditional way of Korean wedding. This is how they conducted wedding ceremony.


Korea continued to grow until they reached the Kingdom era, that is the whole nation is being controlled by the Kingdom.


The people started to build villages and community.


They also started to develop their own foods and style of houses. This is the start of Korea's most renowned food, the Kimchi. And the style of the housing is something you could only associate to them.


The Joseon dynasty has implemented a well-balanced political system. In pursuit of better ruling government, the Kingdom started to reign over the nation.


From that junction, Korea started to establish a better living condition. Electricity has been installed.


Public Transportation has been improved.


And Korea has never been the same until new technologies and new form of governance have been developed.


The second hall which is the diorama of the current  living condition of South Korea is more alive and any Koreans or even non-Koreans living in this modern era can greatly relate to.

I guess you know who this teddy bear is imitating. Yes, it's PSY, the most famous K-pop artist today. He will welcome you if you enter the second hall of the museum.


In the second hall, you will see these improved and modern buildings. This is totally different from the first hall. You can also see here that Korea is now influenced by other religions as some of them are celebrating Christmas.


And of course, who could neglect K-pop? One of the greatest influence of Koreans to the world I think is their music. It penetrates even to Hollywood despite the fact that the lyrics can be barely understood, take for example the Oppa Gangnam Style by PSY.


Nowadays, Korea has a lot of themed park to offer to tourists. You can enjoy amazing rides and sights just like what other themed parks in the western world could offer.


And speaking of Western World, Korea does not remain introvert in their own culture. Although Korea's culture has strong foundation especially the language, brands and ways of Western culture have somehow penetrated the country especially to the young ones.


When it comes to fashion and styles, Korea has improved from the traditional Hanbuk to the modern way of grooming. But I am still dying to wear traditional Korean clothes. Despite the modernization, I can still see some Koreans wearing Hanbuk.


Hip Hop, anyone? Yes, the hip hops and the grafitis, the most common scenes you can see in the Western community have also penetrated South korea.


How about Korean movies and TV series. I know you know this, a lot of people, even non Koreans, are loving the way Koreans make their story marketable to the audiences.



I like the concept of the teddy bear museum because it tells the important story of how Seoul has evolved from the traditional way of living in the Exhibit Hall number 1 to the modern way of living in Exhibit Hall number 2. Kids will surely love to visit this place, and at the same time they will learn a lot from this amazing museum at Namsan Seoul Tower.

In case you would like to know, here are the important information you can take note if you plan to visit this museum:

Teddy Bear Museum in Namsan Ticket Price: 

1. Children (age 3 – 12): 5,000 KRW
2. Adult (age 18 – 64): 8,000 KRW
3. Teenagers (age 13 – 17) and Seniors (age 65 and above): 6,000 KRW
Note:
- Ticket price is for Teddy Bear Museum only and is not including observatory tower area.
- Babies under 36 months old are free to enter Teddy Bear Museum, but parents have to accompany them all the time.
For package ticket that allows you entry to both Observatory tower and Teddy Bear Museum, the tickets prices are:
1. Children (age 3 – 12): 7,000 KRW
2. Adult (age 18 – 64): 14,000 KRW
3. Teenagers (age 13 – 17) and Seniors (age 65 and above): 10,000 KRW

Teddy Bear Museum in Namsan Address:
용산구 용산동 (Yongsandong) 2가 1-3, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, 140-022

Teddy Bear Museum in Namsan Contact Number:
Phone: +82 2-3455-9277, +82 2-3455-9288

Teddy Bear Museum in Namsam Direction:
1. By shuttle bus – You can take Namsan Sunhwan Suttle Bus (number 02, 03, or 05). Take subway to where you’re from and alight at Myeong-dong station, Line 4, Exit 3. You can find the shuttle bus every 15 – 20 minutes. Price: 950 KRW cash or 850 KRW using transportation card.
2. By Seoul City tour bus – Take the yellow bus in front of Gwanghwamun Donghwa Duty Free (Gwanghwamun Station, line 5, Exit 6). The bus interval is every 30 minutes and will take around 2 hours to reach Namsan. Bus is available from 9 AM – 9 PM.
3. By cable car – This is the most famous model of transportation to reach Namsan. You can take the cable car by walking for about 10 – 15 minutes on the right side of Pacific Hotel after you came out of Myeong-dong Station, Line 4, Exit 3.  Operating hours 10 AM – 11 PM. Price: 6,000 KRW (one way ticket) or 8,000 KRW (return ticket).


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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

10 Emerging Influential Blogs 2013 Writing Project:7 - My Top 7 Picks


Apparently, Saranghaekorea.com has been nominated as one of the top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs of 2013. I am so excited with this project because being included in the top 10 means you are effective as a blogger in terms of influencing the readers. I am happy and thankful for all the blogger who have voted and will about to vote my blog for the Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs of 2013. I hope this blog could make it to the top 10, but if not, I am still honored being part of this project as a nominee.

This writing project is already on its 7th year of existence to acknowledge blogs that have gradually gained considerable amount of readers and somehow influenced them in one way or another. Without further adieu, here are my top 7 picks for Emerging Influential Blogs 2013.

1. Saranghae Korea (http://saranghaekorea.com)

A simple blog of a simple OFW in South Korea. This is a point of view of a Pinoy worker sharing his experience in Korea and at the same time providing valuable information for the readers who wish to live, work and travel Korea.

2. Teresay (http://teresay.com)

A blog with general information content reaching out to readers to provide information in various topics. This blog is an extension of education outside the classroom.

3. San Josenyong Gala (http://sanjosennyonggala.blogspot.com)

A new travel blog with a different twist. His blog talks about his travels and his experiences. I love the way he writes his articles.

4.  A Letter Writer (http://alittlewriter.com)

A budding entertaining blog. I really want to read this blog because reading those letters entertains me in many different ways.

5. Travel Blog PH (http://travel.blog-ph.com)

A picture can really paint a thousand words. This blog is the living testimony of that old cliche. The photos are so enticing that you need no words at all

6. Non Techie Mom (http://nontechiemom.blogspot.com)

Well, this is a blog of a mom who is now.... what else... techie, but I found her blog informative.

7. BusinessWhatIfs (http://businesswhatifs.com)

I like this blog because it is easy to navigate and easy to read. It's all about what if's in business. I'll tell you, you can get a lot of insights from these what ifs...



Special thanks to the following sponsors to make this project possible:





If you want to nominate a blog, please visit this link for more information:

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

6 Fun Activities You Can Enjoy at Namsan Seoul Tower

You should not dare leave Korea without visiting Namsan. Namsan means "South Mountain", it is also known as Mount Mongmyeok with a height of 262 Meters and is located at Jung-gu district of South Central Seoul, South Korea.



If you are a Koreanovela fanatic or if you are watching a lot of Korean movies, you could have probably heard about Namsan. Any romantic scene would become magical if shot in this very popular place here in South Korea. To know more about Namsan, let me share to you these 6 fun activities that you can do and enjoy in this very awesome tourist attraction in Seoul.

1. Ride the Namsan Cable Car



Zipline, anyone? If you ever dared doing the extreme adventure called zip line, namsan cable car can make you feel the same feeling of flying on air, albeit less intense. Riding a namsan cable car is just like a 3 minutes of special treat of soaring up to the top of the mountain while overlooking the whole beauty of Seoul.

2. Dine in at the Namsan restaurants and cafes




Italian, Asian, Coffees, Tea and even ice cream. Name it and you can find the food you are looking for at Namsan. It has a wide variety of choices for your gastronomic adventures. There's a restaurant called N Grill, a French restaurant that revolves so you could be able to enjoy both the food and the panoramic view.

3. Lock your love at the roof terrace




Have you ever heard of love lock? This is very famous here in South Korea, and in fact, this country is famous of this.  There are a lot of Korean TV shows and series showing the main characters attaching padlock on the fence. Now, there are tens and thousands of padlocks you can see at the roof terrace, and not only that, you could see the impressive view of the city from the terrace.

4. Cuddle with bears at The Bear Museum




Cuteness can also be found at Namsan. The Teddy Bear Museum is an artistic way of telling the story of how Seoul evolved from past up to the present. It's just like walking down memory lane with teddy bears doing their jobs to tell you the story of Seoul. I have so much fun with the teddy bears and I need to make a separate blog about it.

5. View Seoul from the Digital Observatory at N Seoul Tower




Being on the highest peak of South Korea is just like standing on the top of the world. The Digital Observatory offers visitors the most amazing view of Seoul in a 360 degrees panoramic view. You will also get to experience riding in a shocking elevator with shocking wall. It's very fast that you could be able to get to the top of the tower in 30 seconds. At the Observatory, there are cafes, souvenir shops and a lot of interesting things to do up there.

6. Walk along the park




If you are a nature-oriented individual, you can just go walk around the mountain and just have some fun. There are a lot of entertaining and amazing events happening around Namsan. Just be at the vicinity of the mountain and you can just go around feeling the breeze of air, relax and enjoy.....just enjoy the walk.

Here are the additional information that I think you would like to know:

Namsan Cable Car Cost:

Fare: Round-trip — ages 14-64 8,000 won/ ages 4-13 & 65+ 5,000 won
One-way — ages 14-64 6,000 won/ ages 4-13 & 65+ 3,500 won

Teddy Bear Museum Entrance Fee:

Admission: Ages 18+ 8,000 won/ ages 13-17 & ages 65+ 6,000 won/ ages 3-12 5,000 won/ ages 0-2 free

Digital Observatory

Admission: Ages 18+ 9,000 won/ ages 13-17 & ages 65+ 7,000 won/ ages 3-12 5,000 won/ ages 0-2 free
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