Annyeong Haseyo from Iloilo!

By Jan Rae Aguilos

Three Ilonggos invade South Korea with colored clothes and warm smiles to beat off the freezing temperature.

Welcome to the land of the morning calm, the wonderful home of our most beloved Korean dramas and Kpop idols. After a year of planning and research, alas, I am in one of the most romantic destinations I could ever think of.

South Korea is known for its lush green countryside and brightly colored sun. It was quite cold when we went there as the season was about to change, and that made our experience more meaningful.

It is quite an exciting tale to share how we crossed out one of our dream destinations from the long bucket list. Honestly, the trip took an entire year to come true. With some horrendous planning, a huge amount of patience waiting in line for the next seat sale, down to the frightening process of having your visa approved. But frankly, it was worth the wait.

From the sunny province of Aklan, we flew directly to Incheon and had to take a 30-40 minute train ride within the airport to the main station. Our first stop was Busan, a 6-hr train ride from the capital city Seoul. Made famous by the zombie-themed film Train to Busan, the city is built with so many beautiful temples by the beach. Much warmer than Seoul, Busan is the travel destination by most Koreans during wintertime.

The rest of our 9-day adventure mainly focused on the energetic city of South Korea, Seoul. There is just so much to see and experience from the vast library inside a mall, walking around a well preserved cultural village wearing your Hanbok (Korean traditional clothes), visiting palaces that was built a 100 years ago, secret gardens that offer peaceful history and of course, the food lined up in the streets.

My fascination with Korean drama was made more interesting by visiting the locations where the lead from Autumn in my Heart (A famous drama way back in my elementary days), had their first kiss. Walking side by side the trees of Nami Island in layered clothes to battle off the freezing wind intensified the feeling of a bittersweet love I have felt from watching the show.

What we loved most was the shopping district in Myeongdong where you can find your favorite Korean beauty brands at much cheaper prices! Yup, a whopping 50% cheaper than your local store here in the Philippines. The two ladies I’m with had to hoard a year of supplies to keep that healthy glow.

South Koreans are friendly and like Filipinos, they love food as well. We were surprised by how big their meal serving were. And don’t be deceived by their looks, they might be older than you think behind their cute babyish complexion.

Just a little tip if you are planning to visit the country, South Korea is best enjoyed walking randomly down the streets. And when I say walking, I mean serious walking with a minimum of 22,000 steps every day.

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