Before traveling to South Korea in 2014, I met a mentor and a loving mom to his son. She helped me complete my documents going to my dream country, South Korea. I really had this dream because I made a promise to my Korean friends that after three years, I would fly to their country to finally taste their authentic kimchi and bulgogi! I wasn’t a big fan of K-pop nor K-drama back then so I was more into food and places.
Well, let’s skip my story for now. This write-up is actually meant for a wonderful, bubbly, and certified K-pop fan, Al Soriano. Al lived his entire life in the Philippines, a tropical country with only two seasons. It was in the autumn/fall season nearing the winter season when he and his parents touched down in South Korea. It was a surreal season for him.
He was in eighth grade when Al and his mom went to a bookstore and he came across a Korean phrasebook. Then, he teased his mom “Mom, I’ll go to South Korea in the future.” His mom laughed at him saying, “Kailan ka naman pupunta ng Korea (South)?” (and when are you going to South Korea?). This was a joke he made without thinking that it may become a reality.
The day I had to process my documents, Al’s mom told me about this and it made me realize that the dream of going to South Korea is something we can share with people. Who knows this can somewhat pave the way to realize their dreams, too. Things may seem so impossible to happen because of the processes like taking a leave from work, getting your visa approved, and preparing for your itinerary once you have that Korean visa sticker on your passport.
After kidding and wishing for years and praying to make the abstract plan real, Al and his parents finally traveled to South Korea in 2018. If one thing is really meant for you, no one can ever snatch that out of your hands and from your heart.
So, how did Al enjoy his trip to his dream country?
Nami Island – a place for rest and relaxation
The great thing Al and his family did on the first day was to visit Nami Island, a tourist spot where not only nature but also human beings can coexist. Al won’t forget how trees looked amazing and mellow with the random shades of red, yellow, and orange leaves.
|"It rained a bit when we were in Nami Island but the joy of being there was great!"- Al|
Gyeongbokgung Palace (Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven)
“Jaw-dropping.” This is how he described his tour to the palace. For him, the architecture screams how the level of attention to detail went into the choice of materials. The intricacy of paintings on walls and ceilings truly made it a cultural hallmark of South Korea.
|Inside the magnificent Gyeongbukgong Palace|
Seoraksan National Park
The feel of autumn in this beautiful mountain is a lot more saturated with the whole scenery and ambiance bursting with colors of fall. Not much of a person who loves heights but Al rode a cable car to the top of the mountain to grasp what Mother Nature has to offer.
|Cable car going to Seoraksan National Park|
The Bustling Myeong-Dong
One of the primary shopping districts in Seoul is Myeong-dong, where you’ll find a stretch of local and international boutiques and department stores. Al is a K-pop fan so he shopped a good amount of albums that aren’t easily available in the Philippines. Buying K-pop merch would take him days and months before receiving them after the purchase. But in South Korea, it will only take that next train or bus ride after an album has been recently released.
|The busy street of Myeong-Dong where you can shop your favorite Korean merchandise! International brands can also be purchased here.|
Hanguk Eumsik (Korean Food)
The good thing he did was to eat Korean food. Obviously, it was a no-brainer for him since he’s already in South Korea so why not experience how the food tastes! Comparing it to Filipino food, Korean food is usually a lot healthier. Korean food surely tastes great: from seasoned pork, beef, and a variety of side dishes. Al’s expectations were exceeded especially by the McDonald bulgogi burger.
|Tasty and healthy Korean food! (Middle) Samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) is a great dish for the cool autumn season.|
Al and his parents were able to witness the beauty of falling leaves and cozy weather in autumn. They enjoyed a good amount of walking but they did not even sweat nor panted because of the cool weather. When the other right time comes, definitely Al will go back to South Korea and witness the other magical seasons of the country. He wants to see later-winter to early-spring because he enjoys cooler environments. His body can handle the cold better than in hot environments.
Seasons! These are really some of the reasons why people want to visit South Korea.
|That autumn feels!|
Realizing one’s dream is a great achievement that you will cherish forever in life. You have the capability to turn your wildest wishes come true. Al is just one of the thousands of people who dream of going to the Land of the Morning Calm. So for those who are dreaming of visiting South Korea either in winter, spring, summer, or fall – go and chase that dream of yours! Stay safe for now as we are in the midst of the pandemic, but always remember that no one can stop you when the dream is truly and rightfully yours!
Photo credits: Al Soriano and campyosef