I have a pretty great job, I must say. I get to travel all over the country with great people and eat excellent food. Yesterday was a particularly fun day because I got to send the day with the Estrada Family and we went to Yongin’s Dramia. From Seoul it took about 1.5 hours. Luckily, we had my friend Kyung as our driver so we were able to drive in comfort. It’s one of the places that is quite difficult to get to unless you have transport. You can get there by bus, but if you are unfamiliar with Korea, it could be a bit difficult. Entrance fee is about 7,000 won. So for those crazy about Korean dramas-especially the historical ones such as Daejanggum and Queen Seondeok, Isan, Jumong, and Dong Yi this is definitely the place to see. It was recently reopened and you can see the amazing historical buildings which are the sets of some of Korea’s most famous dramas. I think that it is actually better than some of the palaces because you can see everything from recreated village streets, palaces, temples, and halls. You might even get lucky and see a famous drama being filmed there. Continue reading
In day 3 we continued our intense trekking in Sagada, Mountain Province. Sagada is about 275km north of Manila and is a popular tourist destination for trekking, exploring caves and waterfalls, and other outdoorsy adventures.
We started the day in Banaue with this beautiful breakfast from the hotel.
Again the view outside the hotel is breathtaking. There were constantly birds flying by our window so here I was able to capture one.
While driving down from Banaue towards Sagada we made several stops at particularly beautiful points along the way. This was one such scenic point.
But wait a minute, this looks familiar. Ahhh yes, it’s on the 1000 piso note, equivalent to about $25.
I saw this kid here hauling rocks down the hill. It was a reminder that all of these incredibly beautiful rice terraces that are ubiquitous around the country are painstakingly made one stone at a time. I watched this kid carry at least 10 rocks down the hill within the 20 minutes we were stopped here.
We also ran into this traditional Ifugao gentleman who was kind enough to pose for us.
And I thought it was a hilarious site when a group of bloggers run into a local. He was also wearing crocs, which was perfect.
Here is a group of farmers tilling the soil.
On the way to Sagada we stopped by the Bontoc Museum. They didn’t let us take photos inside so unfortunately I just have to describe it. Inside was a vast array of interesting artifacts and photos from the Mountain Regions. Definitely worth a trip if you are in the neighborhood.
Alessa here is posing next to this handsome rock.
We also stopped for, again, more San Miguel. By the way, San Miguel Light is one of the few beers where I highly recommend the light over the regular. Usually light beers lower the alcohol content and taste watery, but SG light has the same alcohol percentage and tastes crisp and refreshing.
Hyojin photobombed my selfie. Thanks bro.
At lunch we had some delicious vegetables and other things. I didn’t want to share all the photos but the veggies were particularly fresh and delicious.
Here we checked into The Rock Inn in Sagada, which was an absolutely wonderful hotel. The staff was cheerful and helpful, the food was delicious, the beds were comfortable, and there were lots of beautiful areas to hang out and talk. Very highly recommended. This next photo is in the attic where I later learned is where some of the staff sleep and we weren’t actually supposed to go up to. Julia was kind to model for me.
After a brief rest at the hotel we made our way to Echo Valley to see the Hanging Coffins. After our intense 3-4 hour hike the day before we were glad to hear it was only a 25 minute walk down into the valley to see the coffins. The Hanging Coffins are an old tradition but apparently are still ongoing. The locals hung another coffin there several years ago.
I thought church was particularly beautiful at Echo Valley.
Also, Sagada was particularly cool. The Philippines are famous for being incredibly how, but the temperature and humidity were quite pleasant here.
At night we made our way back to the hotel and had a bonding session with some tequila and lime. I was going to post some more photos but didn’t want to embarrass anyone. It got a little crazy.
Here’s our Philippine tour guide throughout the whole trip, Omar. Always up for a joke and laugh. Thank God he was there, the trip wouldn’t have been the same without him.
That concludes day 3. Stay tuned for day 4 coming up soon.
A few weeks ago I was invited (actually Dan was invited but thankfully couldn’t make it, so sent me instead) to the Philippines as part of an initiative to propote tourist in the Philippines. Koreans are the number one tourists over there and the Philippine Department of Tourism invited us so we could share our experiences and try to lure some more Koreans over. A free trip? Free tour? Top rate hotels and restaurants? Hell yes I’m in. I am horrible at planning vacations – a year ago I spent 10 days in Vietnam and literally never left Ho Chi Minh City. My friend and I barely left our hotel rooms. We beelined to French bistros and then back home to safety. So, having a tour all planned out let me turn my mind off, my audiobook up, and zone the f out.
I loved the Philippines. It stole a part of my heart. It was beautiful, relaxing, and all that stuff that tropical islands are. But most importantly, the people were warm and welcoming. I think I miss a culture where strangers can talk to each other, smile for no reason, and be loving to a complete stranger. Before the Philippines adopted their current slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines”, it used to be “Your Home Away From Home”. I wish they never changed it – the latter is much more fitting. “It’s more fun in the Philippines” implies a wild lifestyle to me, like Vegas or something. But the Philippines isn’t like that. It’s just homey. I’ve already half decided to move there.
I’ll be posting 8 posts in the next 8 days about my 8 days in the Philippines.
Traveling is partially about the places you go, but to really have a good time, it’s more important to travel with the right people. You can spend a day in a dumpster, but if you’re with the right person, it’ll be a good time. I lucked out and met some amazing people. Before I go any further I’d like to introduce them: In order – left to right.
Jin Seok Jin – Youtube extraordinaire. And member of Talk to me in Korean.
Kei Cho – From http://mangsangk.com/
Julia – Korean tour guide.
Alessa Mae Entienza – The group baby and our representative from the Philippine Tourism Department.
Harry – Korean tour guide.
Javi Maldonado – Owner of Somos in Hongdae, Youtube genius, and blogger at Todo Corea. He’s basically the guy you follow if you speak Spanish and are interested in Korea. Also a professional at splitting his pants. He managed to ruin two pairs. He also loves to eat crickets, as we’ll see in part 2.
Jasmine Bae – Blogger at http://mee0102.blog.me/ Also winner of most clothes worn down a water slide prize.
Wonsup Kim – Travel photographer genius, my personal hero, and also my roommate throughout the trip. Blog at http://blog.naver.com/gida1. He pretty much had the same photo kit I left back in Korea and so I unendingly envied his gear and cursed myself for leaving mine at home.
Darwin – Our tour guide at the Bananue Rice Fields. After 3 hours of trekking he barely broke a sweat. I, on the other hand, was burned and continuously self-showering. I have no idea how he’s chubby, he does that hike 3-4 times a week.
Hyojin Ahn – Not pictured, but she’ll show up in many photos to come. Talk to Me in Korean rep and the only one who didn’t eat any rice or bring a camera on the trip.
Actually to be honest we didn’t do all that much on day 1. When we arrived at the airport we were immediately greeted by the intense Philippines heat and humidity who’d be our constant companion throughout the trip.
We ran into this dashing through of security guards so we just asked if we could snatch a picture. The guy on the right wasn’t really into it. The girls seemed to like it though.
Here’s Hyojin, Jin, and Javi saying what’s up at the airport before we loaded into our van.
We landed in Manila and we all pumped and excited to meet some Filipinos, eat some Filipino food, breathe the Filipino air. So after we leave the airport we go directly to… a Korean restaurant! Hahaha. It wasn’t what we were expecting, but the rationale was that we were just about to drive 10 hours north into remote mountain areas and this is going to be our final Korean meal in quite a while.
Here we had 돼지고기 Fried Spicy Pork. It was actually really delicious. With the nice air conditioning going inside and the owner speaking to us in Korean, it felt as if we hadn’t left Korea yet.
And this is what happens when you have a group of 7 bloggers at a meal… no one can eat for at least 5 minutes while we all perfect our photos. Hahaha. I actually had a lot of fun this trip documenting the life of bloggers and their obsession with documenting. I documented the documenters.
After lunch we began an arduous 10 hour bus ride north towards Banaue. Our bus and the driver and everyone on it were great. But I came unprepared. Alessa had warned us to bring one of those traveling neck support pillows but I had stupidly ignored her. Throughout the ride my head flopped around like a tortured fish. But that’s okay, there were some great sights along the way.
The Philippines is about 90% Christian (80% catholic) and so there are churches and religious symbols everywhere. This was one particularly beautiful church I spotted from the bus. It can’t really be overstated how prevalent religious signals are here. Bible verses are scrawled on cars and crosses can be spotted anywhere.
Here’s a bird, chillin.
As I said earlier, we were excited to try out traditional Filipino food. But instead we went to Chowking. HAhaha. Actually it wasn’t bad, but it’s the McDonalds equivalent of Chinese food in the Philippines. Don’t worry, the food gets better. It was just humorously not Filipino this first day. Hyojin and Javi had fun with the name.
That’s the end of day 1. Stayed tuned tomorrow for day 2. Also, I just wanted to make a note of what camera I’m using before anyone asks. For this trip I left my Nikon set at home and took only my new Fujifilm x100s. Typically for a trip like this I’d bring my Nikon D700, 3-4 lenses, 2 flashes, and a tripod. I even considered taking my softboxes. I actually had all my batteries charged and all the gear organized, but the day before leaving I decided to leave it all behind and just take this Fuji x100s. I’m glad I did. The Fuji was perfect for 90% of the trip. The only time I really wanted my Nikon kit was during action shots, and those were few. The fuji just isn’t built to capture action. The autofocus is slow and it doesn’t let you recompose without refocusing. It’s quite annoying actually. But other than that the camera was/is perfect. It’s small, silent, and damnnnnnnn sexy.
Update: Dustin has since moved back to the United States to be the best San Diego wedding photographer. He thanks everyone for the amazing time he had in Korea.
Yesterday I was lucky to travel to Boseong tea country with some friends. As expected, Boseong was as beautiful as I heard. The land is picturesque and the tea products there are worth the journey. Here are some of what we saw during on our day. See pictures here: http://www.seouleats.com/2013/06/a-gr… If you are interested in traveling to Boseong, contact my tour company, O’ngo Food Communications (www.ongofood.com) to a arrange a group or a private Korean tour.
Yesterday I was lucky to travel to Boseong tea country with some friends to prepare for a new out of Seoul. As expected, Boseong was as beautiful as I expected. The land is picturesque and the tea products there are worth the journey. Here are some of what we saw during on our day.
Boseong is worth the journey to get there. If you are looking to experience a truly Korean experience, I suggest you make a trip.