Last night I was on my cleaning file ritual, you know cleaning all of unimportant file from your laptop. Since mine is kinda old and buying a new one is not an option right now, I need to take extra care for it so it don’t lag and deleting some unused file is one of it. So I reach to my “Exchange to Korea” file. Seeing all the pictures from that time, bring brought lots of memory and I was slightly thinking should I write about it on my blog? Hmm probably not. You know, I quite unsure about making this post at first. The pictures itself have been dusty on my laptop and it’s kinda late to tell the story about it. But then my mind tells me, you have nothing to do tomorrow so let’s just write something on my blog.
Back in January 2015 I was able to participate on an exchange program held by AIESEC UNHAS, Indonesia. Fortunately I can take part on an exchange program/social project in South Korea that was held by AIESEC Sogang University. I’m a huge fans of Korean entertainment industry back then. K-pop, K-drama, K-food and anything about South Korea you name it, I was crazy about it. Well I’m still a fan now but not as much as one year ago, so having this chance is a bless for me.
Nope I’m not gonna talk about Myungdong even though I love spending my time in that place. I also will not talk about Gangnam or Hongdae or Nami Island. In fact I ain’t gonna talk about Seoul or Busan or any other famous tourism places, since when you google it there will be a lot better information or blog talking about it. Whenever I travel, I actually seeking for more than a tourism places to go, so I think I quite lucky that I got this project that gave me chance to see and feel a country side area in South Korea. Don’t get me wrong if I ever comeback to South Korea I’m still be very happy to visit Seoul Tower again and hang a love lock in there, but hey being able to see another face of South Korea? I’m in girls.
First village is Cheorwon, Cheorwon is the northernmost place in South Korea and it takes about four hours by bus from Seoul. You can go to Express Bus terminal station exit number 8 or Go Sok Bus Terminal to take the bus. Since there are tension between North and South Korea, you will find that this place is very near the DMZ area and you will see a lot of young man in an army suit. In Cheorwon, every winter they will hold a Tracking Frozen Hantan River Festival. Me and my fellow exchange student friends were assigned to took participation on this festival and help the local people to hold this festival. I was damn excited about this, even though it’s freezing like crazy (-15°C), born and raised in a tropical country I’ve never seen snow or frozen river in my entire life.
The festival is very cool, lots of local people from big city actually come for this one and tracking this river. Let me tell you one thing, when me and my friends tracked the river sometimes there will be a cracking sound just like the ice about to broke and after we heard that we’ll see each other in a horror face then start to run until we felt like we reach a save place then we start to laughed about it. Sounds creepy right? But it’s a fun experience though. In this festival you can also see many stands of Korean cultures such as traditional games, making coffee with traditional tools or maybe just like me you can see a local fortune teller and asking about your love life hahaha. So if you ever going to South Korea in winter don’t forget to see this festival, I highly recommend it and by the way local people in here also told me in summer there are many people who come for rafting in this river.
Second village is Okcheon, it took about two and a half our going there by a train from Seoul Metro Station. It’s warmer in there than in Seoul and the country is famous with fruits and other agricultural product like persimmon, grape, pear, peach and etc. Okcheon also known for its mountainous region, so there are a lot of mountains and the scenery is unbelievably photogenic for me. The village itself is so quiet and calm, runaway from urban life to this village surely will recharge your energy. If you are tired with the hectic life of the city, I really recommend you to come here. Sometimes all we need is inhaling a fresh air and not so gadgety, right?
In this area we helped the community by making mural art on their house and teaching English for kids at a local school. On our very first day we visit the nursing home and greeting the eldery. It was very nice to meet and interact with the local people and to feel their hospitality, just like any other country side the local people here is so nice to us. One of my student even cry while hugged me at my last day of class and said i will miss you seonsaengnim (teacher in Korea), and it was by now the most touching moment of my journey in Korea.
So, how about seeing more adventure in not so touristy places? Well it’s all about your choice, but just like what Dalai Lama said “Once a year. Go some place you’ve never been for.”