I have always looked forward to travelling out of the country whenever it is possible and as of the moment, South Korea has been my most frequented travel destination for the past two years because I just love this country so much!
Whenever I travel, I make it a point to try new things so during my fourth visit to Seoul last November 2016, my friend and stayed at Hotel Maui which is one subway station away from Dongdaemun. Continue reading “Hotel Maui in Seoul”→
Kimchi is undeniably a staple in Korean cuisine because no meal is complete without it as it is one of the main side dish which identifies the uniqueness of Korean food among others. It was not love at first bite for me years ago when I got curious by how it tasted through the various Korean television dramas I have watched, but I have grown to love kimchi through the years. For me, eating my favorite gogi mandu (dumpling) and kimbap (seaweed rice roll) taste better with kimchi.
I will call it luck that our autumn trip last November was scheduled just in time with not only one but two important cultural events for Koreans especially Seoulites. We were able to attend the Seoul Lantern Festival 2015 on its first night on November 6 and the 2nd Seoul Kimchi Festival on its second day on November 7.
At Gwanghwamun Square, there was a kimchi-making exhibit which also displays all the various ingredients for different types of kimchi as well as clay jars of different sizes that can get as tall as a grown man that I even had to ask our guide twice just to make sure I heard it correctly. I just cannot imagine how many kilos of kimchi they can keep in such a huge jar!
It was my second time in Seoul and my first time touring my friends in my happy place, the country which I would always want to go back to…South Korea. We were very fortunate that our travel dates coincided with the 2015 Seoul Lantern Festival so I took this as an opportunity to introduce to them one of the many colorful festivities which characterizes Korean culture.
The Seoul Lantern Festival started in 2009 for the Visit Korea Year and since then, it has been one of the major events in the city. Last year, the theme was “Shining World Heritage of Seoul.” The theme for this year’s festival is “Illuminated Seoul Tour,” which features Seoul’s main tourist attractions such as Bukchon Hanok Village, Gwangjang Market and Jongmyo Shrine. Approximately 600 lanterns are on display along the stream which spans about 1.2 kilometers from Cheonggye Plaza to Supyogyo Bridge.
I was very glad that my friends are very open to my suggested itinerary so despite being tired from our almost 5-hour bus trip from Busan and despite the rainy weather, we still headed to the venue at Cheonggyecheon Stream to witness the event on its first night on November 6, 2015.
It was also my first time to see Cheonggyecheon Stream at night and if only it was not raining at that time and freezing cold, I would have loved to sit by the stream to just relax and enjoy the view of the beautifully crafted lanterns.
Psy’s song “Gangnam Style” had been a worldwide hit but this is not the reason why I went to Gangnam. Of course, Gangnam is known for its upscale fashion and it is a shopping haven for the trendsetters. World-famous brand labels line up the streets of Apgujeong-dong which will make the fashionistas’ heartbeat faster.
That is a different story for a K-Pop fan like me. The huge yet cute and colorful statues (also called Gangnamdol) which represent K-Pop idol groups from different entertainment agencies along the K-Star Road are more interesting to look at! You will easily find this road upon exiting the subway. Be sure to drop by and take lots of picture with your favorite K-Pop group’s Gangnamdol before you resume your long walk towards the entertainment agencies of Cube, JYP, FNC and SM along Apgujeong-dong and Cheongdam-dong.
Address: Apgujeong-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea.
Directions: Bundang Line Apgujeong Rodeo Station Exit 2.
Operating Hours: Daily, 24/7.
You may visit the following links for more details:
It has been cold for the past few days, which is quite unusual to what we are used to here in Manila. This made me want to go to Lasema Korean Spa and Sauna. If you have watched Korean dramas, this is what they refer to as jjim jil bang (찜질방). Jjim jil means “to cure diseases by sweating through immersing oneself in a hot spring or water.”
My friends and I usually go to Lasema during weekends and we often stay here overnight. The rates vary depending on the services that you will avail, what time of the day and what day of the week you will be coming. You can also avail of online vouchers or coupons which feature the full package at half the price (use of sauna and jjim jil bang for 12 hours and a full body massage which last for almost an hour). My friends and I usually purchase the promo package and reserve our slots at least one week ahead. If you used your credit card to purchase online, bring your credit card and ID for verification.
When you check in, you will be handed a locker key that is attached to a numbered electronic bracelet which you will use in purchasing food or drinks from the snack bar or if availing additional services for the whole duration of your stay in the spa. The add-on purchases will need to be paid once you check out.
You will also be provided with a shirt, pair of shorts, two towels and a bathrobe. We often use the first towel to make the sheep’s head hat, which is a unique fashion statement in a Korean spa as usually seen in Korean television dramas.
Lasema is a gender segregated spa so there is a separate entrance to the shower room, locker room, and wet sauna for men and women. You will have to take off your footwear upon entering the facility. Once inside, you will immediately see the powder area, shower area and wet sauna. On the other side is the locker area. Basic toiletries and hair dryer are provided as well as mineral water.
When my friends and I went here for the first time, we were surprised to see completely undressed women in the locker area and wet sauna. Apparently, this is the norm in a Korean spa. My friends and I were not keen on trying the wet sauna yet so we just changed into our spa shirt and shorts and went to the common area where the dry saunas are located.
The dry saunas consist of the oak and clay sauna, salt charcoal sauna, dome clay sauna and ice room. Due to the high temperature of the first three saunas, books and gadgets are not advisable to be brought inside.
The oak and clay sauna has yellow earth mud which when heated neutralizes poisonous effects of metal and stimulates our metabolism. It helps with alleviating symptoms of skin problems such as atopic dermatitis and respiratory problems such as asthma. It is also good for women who have recently given birth.
The salt charcoalsauna is good for relaxation and detoxification. The salt charcoal blocks electromagnetic waves and also stimulates our metabolism. This is my favorite as I can tolerate the temperature which is around 48 to 50 degrees. I usually lie down and place big chunks of salt crystals on my belly or legs. The warmth from the crystals is really soothing and relaxing.
The dome clay sauna contains chungito which is an alkali mineral mud produced by volcanoes, The minerals from the mud stimulates and balances the energy from our body. The temperature in this room is around 65 degrees or sometimes even higher, which I cannot tolerate.
The ice room is around 0 to -10 degrees. After sweating out from the heated sauna, stay here for a few minutes and allow your pores to close after detoxifying. The first few minutes will be refreshing but staying longer than five minutes will be a bit too much since the shirt and shorts are not enough to protect you from the extreme cold
It was not until my fifth visit here that I tried the wet sauna. I have always wanted to try it but I am reluctant to take my clothes off so my friends and I waited until the wet sauna had no other occupants before we entered and tried the herbal pools. After showering, we tried the ginseng pool and the green tea pool. The temperature ranges from 40 degrees to 45 degrees. I only stayed for about three to five minutes then showered again. I am not sure if it is just me, but I noticed my skin texture looked better, so I would probably try this again next time.
After the sauna, we usually avail of the full body massage included in our voucher. So if you plan to do the same, it is advisable to reserve your slot before you start with the dry sauna or hang out in the common area. The massage room is big enough for our group so we always get our massage together.
I always had a pleasant massage experience in Lasema so after having a massage, I am always sleepy. I often prefer to sleep on the elevated area on top of the sleeping caves so my friends and I can sleep together. There are times when the spa will get crowded and will make sleeping a bit harder because of the noise, so select the off peak hours or bring an ear plug.
You can also sleep in the common room in front of the LCD TV or in the entertainment room where there are massage chairs and reading materials (which are all written in Korean). The massage chairs are worn out and the covers look like they have not been replaced for days so I always prefer to use the sleeping mat.
Aside from the entertainment room, common room with TV, smoking room and saunas, Lasema also has a computer area where you can surf the Internet for P50 per hour and there is also a snack bar. We usually eat ramen, hard boiled egg and kimchi combo from the snack bar as it is more affordable and is good for sharing. The eggs are cooked inside the dome clay sauna (I saw a staff getting the eggs here). The items from the snack bar are a bit pricey so I suggest you eat first before coming in. We usually have our dinner at Ara Korean Restaurant, which can be easily seen before you enter the parking area in front of the building where Lasema and Makati Golf Club are located.
My experience with Lasema Korean Spa and Sauna had always been good. I enjoyed the Korean spa experience as it makes me feel a step closer in experiencing Korean culture. The wet and dry sauna are great because they offer various health benefits and the massage experience had always been above average. It is overall a good place to stay and detoxify while enjoying the company of your friends or family.
K-Festival was a three-day event organized by Korea Tourism Organization and Korean Cultural Center, and sponsored by the Korean Embassy, PTAA, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Jeju Air and Cebu Pacific Air. This was held from September 19 to September 21 at The New Activity Center, Glorietta 2 in Makati City. Ms. Kring Elenzano hosted this event.
This event features the best deals and the most interesting tours around Korea during winter including skiing, beauty and wellness tour options, and many others.
On-site bookings from travel agencies and airlines can be availed. Among the travel agencies which participated are Far Eastern Travel Agency, SkyNet, Golden Sky, Rakso Travel, Ark Travel, Rajah Travel, and International Journeys.
By simply registering, you will automatically be given a travel pack by Korea Tourism Organization!
A lot of free activities for the participants were also prepared for this event.
Some were able to play Tuho (traditional Korean game) and others were able to wear Hanbok (traditional Korean clothing).
Participants were also able to have their pictures taken at a photo booth with a winter-themed background at the Ski Korea Zone.
Some K-Pop fans were able to have their pictures taken with their favorite K-Pop artists at the Hallyu Zone.
Those who were more interested in beauty and wellness were able to avail of free consultations too!
There were also live performances during this three-day event. On Day 1, Sachoom and Korean Cultural Center Fan Dance Team performed. On Day 2, Korean Cultural Center Taekwondo Team and Sachoom performed. On Day 3, K-Pop Cover Dance: Se-Eon performed.
Participating airlines also hosted games and winners were able to take home prizes. Cebu Pacific even gave away round trip tickets to Busan and to Incheon. I was not able to win these tickets, but I still won prizes from other games! Thank you Asiana Airlines for the passport holder and thank you Cebu Pacific for the multi-zipper organizer/wallet!
What is your dream vacation in Korea? It’s never too early to plan, check out the accredited travel agencies by Korea Tourism Organization for your tour :-)
As 2014’s Wow Korea Supporters, we were invited by Korea Tourism Organization (KTO Manila) to attend the opening ceremony of the first Korea Study Abroad Expo last August 27, 2014 at University of the Philippines (Diliman) Bahay ng Alumni. This 2-day event was hosted by Ms. Kring Elenzano. Online and onsite registration were available and admission was free.
Ambassador H.E. Hyuk Lee of the Korean Embassy in the Philippines, Ms. Grace C. Ramos of University of the Philippines Diliman’s Office of International Linkages and Executive Director Changeun Kim of Global HRD National Institute of International Education gave the welcome remarks.
The purpose of this event is to encourage Filipino students as well as other foreign students to study in Korea. The participating universities offer undergraduate courses, graduate courses (Master’s and PhD), and Korean language courses. They have regular semester program, student exchange program, vacation period program, and Korean language program. There are also scholarship and study-work opportunities for international students.
The participating universities include: Korea University, Sogang University, Sejong University, The State University of New York, Korea (SUNY Korea), Korea University of Media Arts (KUMA), Wonkwang Health Science University, Gyeongnam Provincial Geochang College, Seokyeong University, Changwon National University, Dongguk University, Seoul National University of Science and Technology, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and Seongsil University.
Korea Tourism Organization, Korean Cultural Center, National Institute for International Education, Jeju Air, Asiana Airlines, Korean Air, Kakao Talk and Kaya Korean Restaurant also participated in this event.
After the welcome remarks, we had fruits and Korean food (japchae – sweet potato noodles, mandu – dumpling, sikhye – sweet rice beverage, and kimbap – seaweed rice roll) from Kaya Korean Restaurant. There are USB flash drive, external hard disk, Samsung digital camera and round trip plane tickets to Korea that were given away. We also got freebies from Korea Tourism Organization, National Institute of International Education and Kakao Talk.
We were also entertained by the performances of Korean Cultural Center traditional dancers and HallyUP.
Interested and want to know more about study in Korea as well as the courses and scholarship offered by each of the participating universities? For more information, visit: http://www.studyinkorea.go.kr