April has come and gone so quickly and today marks the start of May! They say time passes quickly when you are having fun and I couldn’t agree more. April has been really eventful for me, particularly because my parents were here and I had a series of events and experiences arranged for April beforehand. April is also when spring hit us in full blast. In this spring, I realised that spring abroad does not necessarily just mean the bloom of cherry blossoms. I noticed that there are also other types of pretty flowers that bloom throughout spring too, and fortunately most of them lasts way longer than cherry blossoms.
But for this post, I will be highlighting on one of my most memorable experiences I had throughout April, which is the home stay event that was hosted by Gwangju International Centre (GIC)!
GIC has planned the homestay for us the weekend after my fellow KGSP friends finished their April TOPIK. It was a good short getaway for all of us and it was an amazing experience. Being my first ever homestay, I am grateful that my host family took me in and gave me the best weekend full of good food and exploring new places. Despite not being able to speak fully in fluent Korean and sometimes accidentally talking to my host mum in Banmal (informal Korean), they are still the sweetest family to be with! Contrary to my other friends who went out for movies or doing outdoor activities, we actually just spent a lot of time talking and getting to know each other. My host sis even took me to Soswaewon and the traditional market and bought me Chamoe (a yellow coloured watermelon pattern looking fruit that taste like melon) and rice cakes! #sotouched
I was pretty surprised that my host family actually lives in the countryside of Damyang instead of Gwangju. It takes about 30 minutes drive to reach their home and before I got there my host mum told me that they have a vegetable farm at their backyard! This is such a dream come true for me because my first ever Korean drama was Princess Hours and the main character’s family has a vegetable farm in their home too! This means, we get to have yummy, planted-at-home vegetables for our meals and we get to pluck them ourselves too! Since I basically grew up in the city, I didn’t get a chance to experience life in the countryside so I really wanted to experience this at least once. Turns out, it was really fun!
And oh, did I mentioned that my host mum cooked both lunch and dinner for us? She also taught me how to make the legendary egg rolls we always get to eat as a side dish. I guess she kinda knew I was like a super amateur when it comes to cooking because I kinda screw up when she asked me to chop onions HAHAHAHA. So in the end she gave me easier tasks like smashing garlic and cracking eggs instead. #oops
All in all, it was a very memorable trip. I made good friends and even though I have been in Korea for 8 months now, I am still amazed and touched by the warmth of Koreans that crossed paths with me so far.
Here are more photos that I took during the weekend:
As we say Good Bye to April, it is time to also say…
Today is the last day of our 10 day winter break. Me and my roomie just got back from a very tiring but awesome 2 day trip from a nearby town near Gwangju called Suncheon. It is about 1 hour 20 minutes bus ride away from Gwangju U Square Terminal. We have been planning this trip about a month before our vacation since we needed to save up some money and make a detailed plan to make sure we get the most out of our spendings haha.
On the first day, we got up at 5.30am to make our way to Gwangju U-square Terminal to catch the 7.45am bus. We bought the tickets on the spot and it cost 7,000won per person. While waiting for the bus to arrive, we bought toast from Isaac for breakfast!
It was a very gloomy day with rain in the forecast. I found out about the rainy weather 3 days prior to our departure whereby we have already booked our hotel so we had to embrace whatever weather that is installed for us. True enough, when we arrived in Suncheon, it was gloomy and very windy while the sky threaten to rain.
But no rain can dampen the excitement of the long awaited winter vacation!
Upon arrival at the bus terminal, we bought our return ticket to Gwangju, which cost 7,000won as well. Right after that we scrambled to find a bus station because we didn’t want to miss the bus. During my pre-trip preparation, I found out that buses in Suncheon can have up to 60-80mins waiting interval so since we had a lot to cover, we had to time our journey well so we don’t spend too much time waiting. But there is only so much I could check and get ready for before the trip so in the end we just tried to adapt our itinerary according to the bus schedules while we were there.
Anyway, our first stop is Nagan Eupseong! After about an hour bus ride from the bus terminal bus station, we are dropped off directly at the South Gate where the ticketing office is. We bought the integrated ticket which cost 12,000 won per person and this ticket is valid for 2 days for entrance to Nagan Eupseong, Ppurigipeunnamu (Deep Rooted Tree) Museum (the one next to Nagan Eupseong), Suncheon Open Film Set, Wetlands Reserve, National Bay Gardens and Suncheon Recreational Forest Reserve.
It was gloomy and very chilly upon arrival. As it was a weekday and it was still very early, there are not many people around so we got to walk around as if we owned the place haha! The whole of Nagan Eupseong Folk Village is surrounded by a stone fortress and we can even climb up to the highest peak of the fortress! Foe now, I’ll let the photos do the talking~
We walked further in and the road led us to a pavilion on top of the wall.
Just when I thought we reached the highest point of the fortress, we saw the road leading to a rock stairway…
Even though the rock stairway was super steep, we managed to climb up in about 5 minutes while looking back from time to time. The irregular steps remind me of my experience when I was hiking up the Great Wall of China, but of course this was probably ten times easier because it is just a short hike up and the stairs were pretty sturdy. The peak is probably the highlight of the entire place because from there, we can see the entire village in it’s entirety.
Lucky for us, instead of having to climb the super steep stone stairs again to get down, there is a slope at the other end that would ultimately lead to another set of stairs that are less steep for us to go down. We continued walking around the village and we came to an area where other buildings and pavilions are located. We also walked past the filming location for the famous drama called “Jewels in the Palace” but it looks pretty normal…
Right after we finished scouting this place, the wind started blowing strongly and the rain started!!!
Even though the strong winds were blowing our umbrellas with great force, we pressed through the rain and wind to areas where we can experience stuff like pottery making, cloth dyeing and traditional outfit rental. But all the activities we are interested in were closed because of the rain and cold weather so we ended up just visiting the pottery house to buy some souvenirs.
After that, the rain got too heavy and we were getting drenched under the umbrella. We decided to walk to the museum nearby to get some shelter and to see what is there to offer. It was a waste that the experiences offered in the village were closed or unavailable due to weather. If I have a chance to go back in the future, I would definitely try the cloth dyeing, weaving and also pottery!
So we walked back to the South Gate and walked about 200m on a muddy path to the museum. Since it was raining the road was really muddy with puddles of water but we managed to get through in about 10 minutes.
The museum is pretty small with only one floor of display rooms. Take a look on the items on display below~
There is also some Hanok buildings within the museum compounds too. The buildings are said to be a few hundred years old.
The best facility available in practically all the places we went is the lockers (some are for free, some costs about 100won for unlimited time). We got to know about the existence of lockers in this museum (and subsequently in other places) thanks to the pretty and kind staff that advised us to place our bags in the locker so that we can walk around freely without our baggage!
The rain didn’t stop even after we spent an hour in the museum. So instead of waiting, we wanted to head to the next destination in the itinerary, which is the recreational forest. But because of the bus schedule, we had time to grab lunch before hopping on the bus!
By lunch time, we had been under the harsh wind and rain for an hour or so, which explains why we look so tattered with our messy hair. After the hearty lunch, we went back to the bus station to catch the next bus…….
BUT IT DID’NT WORK OUT BECAUSE… both of us went on the wrong bus (wrong direction) and we fell asleep in the bus until it took us back to town!!! I guess it must be fated because it was raining cats and dogs and it was impossible for us to walk through a forest area because of the strong winds too. I count it as a blessing in disguise because we then decided to just chill in a cafe over a cup of coffee and waffles! Perfect way to chill in a rainy afternoon~
The rain still didn’t subside after our tea session. Hence we decided to return to the hotel by bus and take a break before heading for dinner. We booked our hotel online for a really good price (28,800won per night). The hotel name is Hotel Noblesse and it does emit a very “olden day” vibe because of the decorations and exterior. Nevertheless, the receptionist was really friendly and she even gave us a free upgrade from a twin room to a deluxe room with 2 separate beds! What’s better is, instead of 2 single beds, we got 1 queen size and 1 single bed! After a coin toss, I got to sleep on the queen bed!!! ^^ The hotel provides really complete amenities like toothbrush, toothpaste and even hair spray and face masks! We got a care pack that includes stuff like hair ties and facial cleansers too!
It has been a really long time since I watched TV in a room. Both of us got so comfortable and in the end we decided not to even go out for dinner. Instead, we ordered Mcdonald’s!!!!! Every single McDonald meal is cherished because McD don’t deliver to our dorm and so far it is only my fourth time having McD since I came to Korea. The deliverman was even kind enough to deliver right to our door!
After a hearty meal while watching Discovery Channel on TV, it was time to rest and chill before sleeping, And of course, what else can we do in a hotel room? Mask time of course!
After two masks (yes we tend to go a bit crazy sometimes), it was time to sleep early because we had to wake up at 5am the next day!
Being the last month of winter, February marks the end of our winter semester, which also mean we will be saying goodbye to one of our classmates, Ruby and both our Korean teachers. The photo above is taken during the goodbye lunch we had in our favourite buffet place called Ashley’s. It was a light hearted event filled with laughter and touching tributes to our teachers. One of our teachers even teared up when she opened our gift and she even brought it around with her the next day to show it off to her friends hahaha (that’s what she said).
We are all sad to part with our Korean teachers because they have been the best teachers we could ever had so far. Thanks to them, many of us scored pretty well in the January TOPIK test as they have gave us a good foundation to the language. I will always remember the happy times we had in class and the jokes they make to cheer us up whenever we feel the morning blues and the games and movies we enjoyed together~
More related pictures:
P/S the duck is really reallyyyyy good
The next day after the goodbye lunch, we had our last classes with our teachers. And one of them even gave us a notebook and a personalized letter!!!
It was a good six months with our teachers and classmates. As we are coming to the end of our winter vacation, it is time to gear up for upcoming spring and the new challenges installed for us! The memories we made as a class will always be cherished~
It has been officially a month since I came to Gwangju. Finally managed to settle down and get some free time to do some blog updates!
Life has been so busy but yet fulfilling for the past one month. But for today’s blogpost, I’m going to list down THE GOOD FOOD I ATE for the past month. Seriously though I have never tried anything that tastes yucky so far. Even the cafeteria food taste good I kid you not.
To me Gwanju is like the Penang/Ipoh of Malaysia. Good food is everywhere and I am so lucky to have so many good (and cheap) restaurants around my campus and also nearby at the down town area. And oh, we also have awesome food delivery services here so basically we can order ANY type of food we want and it will be sent to our dorm entrance! Purrrfect for lazy days (like today lol cuz me and my roomie has already planned to order food delivery later haha!)
So before I came to Korea, I had tasted and experienced Korean food before but just simple stuff like Bibimbap, Ddokbokki, Ramen, Ginseng Chicken etc. I had chances to try out other Korean dishes in the past month and they are wrecking my favourite Korean food list because EVERYTHING TASTE SO DELICIOUS.
Ok so here comes the food pics. They are all so delicious I KENOT!
Rank 1 most favourite Korean dish (it knocked out Ginseng Chicken from the #1 favourite spot). Must try!
SAMGYEOPSAL AKA PORK BELLY
I am already drooling.
I have had samgyeopsal for dinner in different restaurants. ALL OF THEM TASTE GOOD (but of course we have a favourite :p)
Oh, and for all 3 times we have Korean friends came along and gladly did all the cooking for us HAHAHAHAHAHAHA but they are the pros so NO MEAT WAS WASTED/CHAU TAR.
Best to also order beer or soju during dinner because that’s how Koreans do it hehe.
NEXT UP: HANGOVER SOUP/HAEJANGGUK
This one seriously very nice la I couldn’t find any words to describe how awesome it taste like especially on rainy/cold days.
And it makes me wonder what is the secret in Korean cooking that is able to produce such tender pork meat. Seriously though the meat is so fluffy and tender (sounds so wrong omg but you get what I mean).
AND, contrary to popular belief you can actually eat hangover soup whenever you want and not just after drinking/getting drunk lol.
Number 3: Fried chicken!
Fried chicken (via food delivery) is like the best thing that you can order via food delivery app. But it’s pretty pricey compared to other dishes so fried chicken is like a treat!
Side track a little with the story of how we ordered this chicken. So since I knew some basic Korean and my roomie doesn’t, I was “naturally” handed the task to order the chicken. But since we didn’t know the existence of food ordering app at that time (facepalm), we gotta call up Kyochon Chicken and order by phone.
아…어떻게야지… (Omg what should I do)
So what I did was. I had google translate on the laptop browser JUST IN CASE. I practiced ordering before the actual call and I had like PLAN B, PLAN C just in case the person cannot understand me lol.
After about half an hour of trying to learn how to order, I called.
The first question I asked was… “Do you know how to speak English?”
THANK GOD SOMEONE DID! So yea.. I ordered my first ever fried chicken in Korea using English lol. I’ll do better next time.
End of story.
Next in line: Jajangmyeon
Jajangmyeon tastes nicer when it is delivered rather than eating in a restaurant i duno why. For some magical reason, to me Jajangmyeon is like the top dish I would order via food delivery.
How can a dish taste so good with only black sauce and onions (plus a wee bit of pork)? HOW?!
I guess I will never find out but my love for Jajangmyeon will never die.
Next, for comfort food – Ginseng Chicken
In Korea, EVERYBODY CAN EAT GINSENG (even though you are a poor student)!
But this is like the priciest dish (about 10k won and above) among all the other dishes in this blog post. So I guess I can only eat it like…once in 3 months lol jk.
Since it is not spicy I guess people who can’t eat spicy food can try this when they come to Korea. Jjang!
Ok I got lazy so here are some other awesome food I tasted in the past month.
Strawberry Bingsu! Shaved ice made from milk with strawberry and sponge cake topping! The ice is smoother than my skin (which is already very smooth HAHA)
Mulnaengmyeon aka 清汤冷面 aka plain cold noodles (that is not very plain after all since they have a wee bit of red pepper sauce, cucumbers and radish soaked in ICE BROTH). But tbh I am not a big fan of cold stuff so it doesn’t appeal that much to me. But taste wise, still good!
Meal from cafeteria. Three vege (side dishes) + 1 meat + 1 bowl of hot soup. It may seem plain but surprisingly it taste really good! Standard 三菜一汤.
Some shrimp tacos that we ate during the weekend bridge market near ACC. It’s like food truck kind of food but how can they still make it so good. -tears-
Pretty tarts in a very atas cafe near ACC. Might do a separate cafe review for this hehe.
BURGERKING! Nuff said it was awesome after eating Korean food for 2 consecutive weeks. My taste buds literally got resurrected with the beef burger.
Cheese ramen. Two awesome things combined into one. I am so embracing the ramen life over here because #poor But luckily they do have good ramen so no complains hahahah
Other photo of beef burger because who can be sick of burgers? lol
Pizzaaaaa. Ok so it’s really different from the pizza we had from Malaysia because no matter what kind of pizza you order, it tastes sweet lol. Triple cheese pizza, spicy chicken pizza etc…SWEET. But I guess this is Korean styled pizza so we should 入乡随俗 and learn how to accept sweet pizzas for at least the next 3 years lol.
So that’s it for my summary food post! Maybe I will hand pick a few nice ones to do a better review since I took so many photos anyway haha.