Monday, May 29, 2017

A Cool Journey to the Underworld at Gwangmyeong Cave

Fantasy Movie Festival inside the cave


If Bruce Wayne has a man cave that houses sophisticated items like the batmobile, batcomputer station, a vault of Batman’s costume and other unspecified machineries, South Korea has Gwangmyeong Cave to top it all. Well, maybe not in the aspect of sophistication, but at least it’s a real cave with real things in it. Do you want to know what these real things are? Let me virtually tour you inside the cave.

Unlike any other caves, you don’t need to trek on high mountains or go to wherever forest in the far-flung provinces to access Gwangmyeong cave because it can be found right within the city. Yes folks, it’s a cave in the city. It was used to be a coal mining site and it has witnessed the colonization of Japanese as well as the evolution of the modern industries in Korea. The Korea Tourism decided to transform the cave into a museum and historical site and it was reopened in 2011 for public visit.
In the outside, it looks like just any other ordinary cave. For me, it doesn’t even look like a cave, it looks like a tunnel. Here in Korea, if you travel from one city to another, you would definitely pass through a lot of tunnels. Essentially, these are passageways built through the mountains. But Gwangmyeong was not built for a tunnel but as a mining site in the early 20th century.

There are other elements outside the cave referencing to what it used to be. There’s a statue of a miner with a cart of gold. Of course, these are not real gold, they put this just to show that they used to excavate gold from these mining sites a long long time ago.

Statue of a miner with  cart of gold outside the cave

Also, there’s a viewing cave on the other side. It’s some kind of an elevated area, so if you want to view city on the top view, you must climb up the wooden stair to reach the sky view. Well, there’s not much to see up there except for buildings and trees, but it’s worth a try and a climb.

Sky View


I was not prepared for the exotic experience I had inside the cave. It was cold inside, well lit and there were old photos displayed almost every 10 meters in the entrance area to show how the tunnel looked like during the era when it was still a mining site. For a second, I was confused if it’s a cave or a museum, but we can call it a cave-museum.

Museum inside the cave

I like how they made the lightings more interesting inside the cave. It’s so colorful and beautiful. There were LED of different colors, shapes and sizes adding mystery to the ambiance inside. I felt like I was transported into the future, where creatures are glowing and emitting bright and colorful lights.

LED lights everywhere


But what really amazed me was the fact that there’s a music and art hall inside. There’s this one area where you can see a stage, chairs for the audience, projectors and a lot more. Apparently, they hold performances in this area to entertain visitors of the cave. It looks like a theater house for me, better than the theater house I think. But wait, there’s more, we were actually treated for a show. It’s not just an ordinary show because the hall was suddenly converted into a magical room as the walls of the cave turned into a movie screen. It was some sort of a short movie with colors and shadows as actors telling a story about what the humanity has done to the environment as they aim for industrial development.

The walls inside the cave turned into a colorful show


 And who would have thought you can install a giant aquarium inside the cave? I kid you not, fishes are no longer in the sea, they’re at Gwangmyeong cave too. It was a little bit a strange sight for me, but apparently, people were actually enjoying it.  Fishes of different species and sizes and colors were there happily swimming in the aquarium.

one part of the giant aquarium inside the cave


There’s also a golden path, it’s a tunnel where all you see and touch are gold. I felt I was a King when I walked in that path. Everything in the golden path is shimmering and shining like gold.
At the end of the path runs a waterfall, a golden waterfall! And there are golden palaces too that make the place even more interesting.

The golden path

Other interesting elements in the cave were the wishing stations. Every now and then, there’s a statue, or some kind of lucky charms or even wishing well where people can touch and pray for whatever fortune they want in life, it could be money, prosperity, happiness, etc…. One example of these is this golden statue of Aisha. They said that if you touch the pieces of gold sitting in her hand, you will have a prosperous and happy future.

The statue of Aisha

One part of the cave is dedicated to Fantasy Movie Festival and they have coordinated with the Weta Workshop, the producer of “The Lord of the Rings”. So don’t be surprised if you’ll see the giant sculpture of Smaug and Gollum, I was surprised though.

Lord of The Ring



Not only that, there’s a garden inside!!! Plants of different varieties and species are displayed to give some lush green sight for the visitors. It’s quite refreshing to see the greeneries in the dark cold tunnel of the cave.

Garden inside the cave



I guess the highlight of our little trip at Gwangmyeong was a visit to the Winery or they call it a Wine Cave. We got to taste the wine of different types and it tastes so good. It’s like all the good wines in the world were gathered and……ok fine, I really don’t know anything about wine, haha… I was just impressed by the collections of wine available inside the cave.

The winery



I like how the staffs were so polite and they always make sure that everybody’s safe inside the cave. We were a little bit in a hurry because they will be closing the cave at 6 pm, but I can’t believe we were able to explore the whole area in just maybe about 3 hours.

So if you are looking for a daytrip, Gwangmyeong cave is the best place to visit because it is very accessible by public transportation. It is located at 142 Gahak-ro 85beon-gil, Gwangmyeong-si, Gyeonggi-do or you can take a subway and get off at Gwangmyeong Station on Line Number 1. Go to exit 6 and take a taxi to Gwangmyeong cave. It will take around 10 minutes to reach the cave from the subway station. The cave is open from 9 in the morning up to 6 in the evening during weekdays and 9pm during weekends. The cave is closed every Monday, Seollal and Chuseok.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

How to Apply as a Factory Worker in Korea (According to Point Based System)


work in manufacturing industry




IMPORTANT NOTICE: As you can see, this blogpost has been flooded with questions. I could no longer answer questions here. If you have questions, CLICK HERE to see if it has been answered in the FAQ. If not, just leave your question in the comment box of that page.



A lot of people commenting on my blogposts and emailing me asking “How to apply as a factory worker in Korea?”. and although I am not authorized to hire people to work here in Korea, I feel obligated as a blogger to share the information on how people in the Philippines apply as a factory worker here. Interested applicant must go through the process of EPS or Employment Permit System.


So here’s a guide for everyone out there who are interested to work in a manufacturing industry. This is based on the agreement between the Ministry of Employment and Labor of the Republic of Korea (MOEL) and the Department of Labor and Employment of the Philippines with regards to the MOU on the Sending of Workers.


There are three rounds you must pass in order to be hired as Factory worker in South Korea. Every round has corresponding points, and the points that you will acquire along the way will help you open the door of opportunity to South Korea. So what are these three rounds?


First Round: Korean Language Test


For the information of everybody, EPS-TOPIK exam is a selection criteria for jobseekers in Korea. This is a Korean language test to ensure that foreign workers who hope to work in Korea are equipped with Korean language skills. One must pass the exam first before being considered for the second step

.

The announcement of EPS-TOPIK is usually posted in the POEA website (www.poea.gov.ph). There is no definite date of posting of announcement. While waiting for the announcement, I recommend you start learning Korean language. You need to pass the exam in order to be listed in the roster of applicants.


 For the qualifications, please check the list below:


·         Must be 18 years of age and not more than 38 years old on the next EPS-TOPIK exam date
·         Must be physically and mentally fit
·         Must not have any record of conviction or imprisonment
·         Must not have any record of deportation or departure orders from the Republic of Korea
·         Registered with active status in the POEA Manpower Registry


Registration venues will soon be posted.


What to Bring for registration:

·         Valid passport or valid governmaent-issued Identification Card with picture and date of birth such as SSS, GSIS, Driver’s License or Voter’s ID
·         Two (2) pcs. passport size colored picture showing a full face with no hat and taken not more than six (6) months before registration
·         Registration/Test fee – US $24 or Php1,044.00. (previous exam)


Go to the respective testing venue on a specified date on the announcement and take the EPS-TOPIK exam. You must pass the exam, if not, you cannot work as a factory worker in Korea.


The exam is consists of two types, the Listening and the Reading. There are 25 items for listening and 25 items also for reading.  You must answer that in 70 minutes. Test type is multiple choice.



You will be informed about the date of the announcement of test result. All you need to do is wait (usually about 7 days) for the announcement which can be found on POEA website. Once you see your name on the passer’s list, you can now submit the requirements to POEA. Please note that passing the exam does not guarantee employment, but basically, you are halfway there.


Second Round: Skills Test


Once you see your name on the passers’ list, report to POEA in your area immediately. You must bring the photocopy and original copy of the following:

1. WORK EXPERIENCE/ CERTIFICATE OF EMPLOYMENT
2. LICENSED CERTIFICATE (NATIONAL)
3. VOCATIONAL TRAINING CERTIFICATE MULA SA TESDA O SA TESDA ACCREDITED
TRAINING CENTERS


The POEA will advice you to take the Skills test. Venue and date will be announced. The skills test will further measure your ability to speak and understand Korean Language. It's actually an interview using Korean as a medium of communication.


In this test, you will also receive instructions in Korean and you must do what is asked by the interviewer to pass this test. Commands, like arranging things, identifying colors, lifting objects and whatnot, will be asked in Korean language and you must do it all perfectly.



Third Round: Certifications


The certifications from your previous job experience can gain you more points for this opportunity. If you have no work experience, you can still be listed in a roster as long as you passed round 1 and round 2, but certifications will earn you the following points:


Work Experience (1 year and more) : 3 points
Licensed Certificate (1 year and more): 1 point
Vocational Training Certificate (1 year and more): 1 point


The employers in South Korea will choose the name in the roster based on the points gathered by the hopeful applicants. So it is important you have accumulated good amount of points every round.


How much does it cost?


From the POEA website, you can also see the breakdown of the cost you need to pay for processing.



In peso, it is approximately PHP35,000.


That’s it. It’s not rocket science. You just need patience and the guts. For more information about working here in Korea in general, you may want to check my other posts regarding the current minimum wage for factory workers in Korea, type of jobs in manufacturing industry and a lot more HERE


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Amazing Taean Tulip Festival (태안 튤립 축제)

The flowers at the Taean Tulip Festival


For most of us who were born and raised in a tropical country, we are sometimes oblivious to the presence of flowers all around us because they are there all year round. We can appreciate it anytime we want because there is no such thing as season for flowers. But when I started living in South Korea, the cold winter days deprive me of the sight of green luscious trees and colorful flowers. At the start of the cold days, all of a sudden, colors of nature do not exist. That is why at the start of the spring season, I always get too excited because finally, dead trees and dull colors will be replaced by green scenery and colorful flowers of different types and varieties. The change of the season from winter to spring is a symbol of festivity, and what better way to celebrate it than to organize various spring festivals.


During springtime, there are festivals all over Korea like the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival and International Horticulture in Goyang, but if there’s one Spring Festival in Korea you shouldn’t miss, it’s the Taean Tulip Festival because it is recognized by the World Tulip Summit Society as one of the top 5 tulip festivals in the world, yes folks, we are talking about the world. With over 1.5 million colorful tulips all over the garden, it has earned the respect of the world.


Windmill of Netherlands featured at the Taean Tulip Festival

At Taean tulips festival, you will see varieties of tulips that come in different colors and sizes. In a human height level, your eyes will show you a garden of thousands of tulips. They were planted according to variety and color. When put together, you will see a spectacular combination of tulips arranged neatly that it looks like the flowers are performing some sort of a dance especially when the wind blows them. It's such a refreshing sight to look at. Everywhere you go, there are tulips all around as if waving at every onlookers passing by.


Tulips of different varieties and colors


At some point, I was intrigued by how oddly they arranged the flowers according to colors. I decided to look at it on a higher perspective. They put up this mound in the middle of the garden, it looks like a little volcano for me, but not scary because of the flowers. People usually climb up to the peak of the mound to see the whole area.


A small mound at the middle of the garden


Looking at the beauties from up there, the odd arrangement of the colors made a little bit of sense to me. Some color formations are round, curve, straight lines and some were intentionally arranged to project an image. I was so sure that there’s a message behind the flower arrangement, some kind of an image which can only be appreciated at higher point of view.


Flower formation from the top view


God knows what other images are projected by the arrangement of tulips in the Garden. I don’t have any equipment that could let me take photos at higher perspective, but I enjoyed the vast garden of tulips anyhow. I just thought that it really takes a lot of effort to come up with a magnificent garden like that, and with a concept.


Concept of the garden

Aside from Tulips, the presence of Cherry blossoms planted at the corner makes the garden more magical. Although some petals have already withered, there are some remaining cherry blossom flowers enough to compliment with the colorful tulips. There are also digitalis, lupine, orchids, lilies and most of all, canola. There’s an area where all you can see are yellow beauties of canola flower. It was my first time to see a vast garden of canola in one area.


In the presence of the canola flowers


There are also other activities in the festival like a mini concert. There are also food booths if you want to go on a food trip. Various Korean street food like ttokboki and hoteok are available. If you want to buy tulips seedlings, they have a market available for you. There are also souvenir booths where you can buy products like bracelets, jewelries, shirts, etc. They are not necessarily connected to Tulips Festivals, but people do buy anyway.


Entrance to the Taean Tulip Festival is pretty cheap, you can check on the board below for the prices.


Entrance Prices at the Taean Tulop Festival


How to get there?


At first I was intimidated to go there because they said it’s a very remote area. But I think it’s not that difficult to go there. You can take the express bus to Taean from any intercity bus terminal in Korea. Fare is based on the location where you are departing. Once you arrived at Taean Bus Terminal, you can take Bus Number 700 and get off at Sinon-ri. From there, you can walk around 10 to 15 minutes. The walkway to the garden is very narrow, you might need to be very careful walking on that road because you will be sharing it with a lot of cars. This year 2017, the festival will run from April 13, 2017 up to May 10, 2017.


Complete address:
200, Mageompo-gil, Taean-gun, Chungcheongnam-do
충청남도 태안군 남면 마검포길 200 (남면)