Wow Korea 3rd Trip [Day 1]

Thursday, 23 July 2015

So on our 3rd trip, we were going to a few places below Seoul, namely Cheongju, Yeongdong, Gongju, Boryeong, Asan and Cheonan. Yes if you spotted it, you're right. Back to the city where it all began last year. The place where I did my language in Sunmoon University. Never thought I'd be back, especially not on a leisure trip. True enough, I believe it's a way for me to let go of the past and get a move on. Anyyyyway, we gathered on Friday at 8:30am and had a 2 hour trip towards Cheongnamdae, Cheongju.

Thereafter, we headed to our first destination, a tour of Cheongnamdae, the Presidential Villa. It is the place where the presidents used to live, and it has now turned into a type of museum, giving information about all the previous presidents up to the current one. They also have the used items such as toiletries, army uniforms, clothes and things that they used to use on a daily basis.

One of the presidents hugging the late Kim Jung Il

On the gate there is the logo of 2 phoenixes. Only gates of the Presidential Villa can bear that logo.

We then had a tour of the villa itself where there were dining, conferences, and even their bedrooms and toilets. Well apparently, photography isn't allowed inside but since I was tagging along at the back, I was happily snapping away until I was told somewhere towards the end of the tour that I wasn't allowed. Oops :X

Conference room

Waiting room
(If you look at the chairs on the left, there are holes at the top of the seat, that is for visitors and guests, whereas the chairs on the right has the logos of phoenixes. That would be the seats of the president and his wife, or vice versa)

Dining room (There's 2 floors)

Bathroom of the President's room (Yes, bathtub and massage table)

Had a little tour of the gardens and the surroundings outside of the Villa. Apparently they always had garden parties and such just outside the Villa because it was beautiful. All the glass windows of the Villa are bulletproof and are really thick. The place was really well kept and beautiful and it was just so peaceful. Since we weren't able to come all 4 seasons, they showed different pictures of how the place looks like in all 4 seasons, and seriously Summer is the ugliest season to be here. The red colors of Fall and the blanket of white snow just made me wish I was here in either Fall or Winter. D:

We then took a little walk or hike that the President usually takes with visitors and guests after meals up to the top. It was a pretty nice and serene place with lots of trees, bridges and well, basically nature. There was a really amazing wide field with a sculpture of a phoenix we saw along the way (and also the very first photo of this post) that I really wanted to take a photo of and couldn't wait.

No entering the mountain

And... viola!

We finally came to the field with the phoenix and if you look at the photo carefully, you might just spot a couple behind. I was trying really hard to cover them out of the photo using that huge trunk so I hope I did it well. They were taking really long to take their photo and we only had a few minutes here before we had to carry on with the program.

Next up we carried on to the museum of artwork, It was a really long walk all the way to the end and in front of that museum there was a beautiful fish pond where in the winter, is used as an ice skating rink! How amazing. Apart from that, they have a huge fountain that dances as the music plays (only on certain times though)

The artworks were all really interesting and tell a tale of a certain event or a certain president and how they contributed to the Korean economy and society. The artworks were so huge and beautiful, and sometimes I wonder how people can actually draw to that scale when I can't even manage a minute drawing of a face properly.

The dancing fountain!

Along this street are pictures of dramas and movies being shot in this place

Yup, since this place was the Presidential Villa, a lot of scenes you see in certain dramas or movies involving a presidential scene, or something along those lines, it was probably taken here. The place was really beautiful and they showed different pictures of some dramas being filmed here. Well I can't really remember the names now since I'm not much of a fan of K-drama.

Anyhow, we moved on to the next location for lunch: Majung! It's Hanjeongsik (한정식) so be prepared for some formal style Korean dining. We were having a 9-course meal and, like any other formal dining, came out in series. We began with an appetizer of salad and pumpkin soup. The salad was served with this ball of ice mango-tasting stuff and my first thought was Ice dessert (Bingsu) but apparently it's just frozen salad dressing -_-

After that we had noodles that were made of Acorn? I think.. And also pancakes! Well Korean-style pancakes. We had this little flat ball of wrap with meat and vegetable. It reminded me of an unwrapped dumplings. It was simply delicious!! We had a person at our table who couldn't eat pork so I gladly helped myself to two.

Grilled mushrooms with ddeok and capsicum

Beef Bulgogi

Fried Pumpkin


This is BOSSAM. (보쌈)

You wrap the meat, radish and (really salty) anchovy x1 into the onion like so, and eat it.


This is fried mushrooms in sweet and sour sauce
(Seriously, if I didn't know it was mushroom I would have passed it for guluyuk (sweet and sour pork)

After lunch we headed to our 2nd activity for the day: Trying out Korean Classical Music Instruments at the Nangya Korean Classical Music Museum. The first thing we did was to try out the traditional Changgo. There are two sides of the drum that produce different sounds and we were to hit it with 2 different sticks. Hitting both sides together was called a Tung, hitting the left one was a Gong, and hitting the right one was a Da. We learned 3 different rhythms and played the introduction to a song.

This can be adjusted to make the sound deeper or lighter

After the class we had a little interview session. Since we are ambassadors of our own countries in this program hosted by the Korean Tourism Organization, we are pretty much helping them advertise and promote Korea. Since Korea was hit recently with the MERS incidents, it has since cleared up and the situation was actually not dire in any way. This was one of their ways to help clear up the misunderstanding and welcome tourists back to Korea. On the very day that we filmed it, we were on the news at 9pm! You can see it here: KBS News (I tried to download it but I couldn't) :(

Actually, from this trip that we went there were a lot of news coverage and we appeared in quite a few news sites in Korea. Namely Break NewsSisa Focus and Naver News. Just a little warning though, it's all in Korean so you might just want to take a quick look and coming back here :P

Next up, we went to try out the biggest drum IN THE WORLD. That's right, it even has its very own Guinness World Record. It was extremely huge and it weighs many tons. I can't remember the exact figure but I remember going "woww...." when the guide said it to us. Anyway, we each had the chance to strike the drum so it was pretty interesting. In essence, you are supposed to hit it 3 times, with an interval between each to wait for the trembling to stop. After hitting it thrice, you have to make a wish, either in your heart to yourself, or out loud. We all got a turn to hit it before moving on to the next place!

We got back on the bus for about 5 minutes downhill and we came to a little workshop. In this place, they made traditional Korean instruments such as the Kayageum (Strings) and the Danso (Flute). He told us about the different ways to choose and process the wood needed for the Kayageum since it was really long, and how the sound comes out. Even at the base, they modeled it like the Hangeul where it has . ㅇ ㅣ the original three where all Korean characters come from. 


After the explanation we got to try out the processing

We each got to make our own Danso as well however only a few of us was able to play it. You have to position your lips really well with the right angle of the flute in order to make a sound. Apart from that, when you put your fingers on the holes, it's a whole other story because no matter how much I tried, no sound came out D: We each got to make our own and keep it!

We gathered back on the bus where we were to take a 1 hour bus journey all the way for dinner at the Okgye Falls at a place called Waterfall Garden. This restaurant was a small little quaint place right smack in the middle of nowhere, and it was called Waterfall Garden because of the nearby waterfall. Since we arrived early, we all hiked upwards to have a look at the waterfall before dinner.

The place was so quiet and secluded and it looked so peaceful... It would certainly be a place where you can go to just take your mind off things and meditate if it wasn't for the damn mosquitoes flying everywhere. Well you can't blame them since it's Summer. Anyway, the place was really nice and there was a bridge and platform overlooking the waterfall. 

People wearing shorts and slippers were able to go in for a cool dip

After all the photos were taken and splashing fun was had, we all made our way back to the restaurant where we would be having Soybean Paste Stew with Snails for dinner! I was pretty excited because I really love escargot and I was pretty psyched to try out what Korean ones taste like. Mixed in with the stew itself, it was really salty but went well with the rice and vegetable wraps. Well, I can't say I'm not surprised, everything in Korea goes with rice -_-

My mouth is salivating as I type and look at the photos...

This alcohol is called the Dongdongju (동동주) and it tastes like vinegar... so hard to drink (expensive too)

Overall dinner was delicious. However, due to the fact that we were mostly in the bus after our meals, we didn't really have the chance to digest them before having another meal. Being a little bloated, I couldn't really eat much and enjoy my meal. Half  a bowl of rice later, I was surprised at myself when I actually felt bored of the food instead of just feeling full. Anyway, after dinner, we headed to another place where we would do a little sightseeing before having... (yea you guessed it) dessert!

This place is called the Suamgol Mural Village. In the past, this place used to be pretty dangerous since it's quiet and dark in the night and there used to be crimes and such. Murals were painted on the walls to brighten up the area so that it would be a little less intimidating. Over time, it became one of the tourist and local spots for sightseeing. We had a team mission here where we had to find certain articles such as tigers, cranes, pine trees, children, old people (murals) to take photos with before going for dessert. Let the photo spam begin!





Old people...? Oops :X

Suamgol Village!

As you carry on climbing up the Suamgol Mural Village, you would reach the Observatory where it's (almost) the highest point and you can look all the way down on the beautiful night skyline with all the lights and dazzle. It was quite a beautiful moment but the thought of Cheese Ice Dessert just made (the girls) run down to Cafe Street below. 

After we raced down to the cafe, we ordered 2 different kinds of ice desserts with the budget we were given and sat down to enjoy the night breeze while waiting. The view was just breathtaking and the night air was cool. Even after perspiring so much, we were able to cool down and just talk and laugh throughout the night. After a long wait, our dessert appeared and we wolfed down everything before having to head back to the bus.

Looks so nice doesn't it? TASTES EQUALLY NICE

We got back on the bus and headed to the best lodging we have ever had so far! It was at this placed called Hotel Namoo (Hotel Tree) and there were BEDS. Soft fluffy beds, with huggable pillows and thick comforters all with an air conditioned room. It had a bath tub and bath robes and it was just beautiful. All for 2 people!

We called it a night after uploading our missions onto Facebook and we drifted off into a good, deep sleep. As the next day was going to be a long (and tiring) one, we had to properly rest up so that we can have some awesome fun at the BORYEONG MUD FESTIVAL! Seriously, writing about it now just makes me so excited again. It was really really fun and I loved it.

Okay read about it in my next post. Till next time~

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