August 2013, I had a great chance to go to South Korea, for FREE! Provided by Korea Tourism Organization, me and another winner from Indonesia went there by airplane. We both haven’t experienced South Korea before, but we relying on each other and having so much fun together there. 🙂
Well, the first thing I feel when I arrived in Incheon airport was this: familiar. I don’t know, like I have been staying here for years, I feel like it’s my home and everything was exactly like I’ve been imagining these times. I was totally surprised for this feeling since it’s my first time to traveling alone with no big preparation. But I know, I have been stalking South Korea for four years before I got this rare opportunity. 😀
Me and Allysa, the other winner, were welcomed by Korea Tourism Organization staffs who were really friendly! We were so glad because we both didn’t know anybody here and there. We recorded a short welcoming interview after 7 hours of flight, and then we rode a bus to Seoul~! 😀
On that night, we all the winners gathered and getting know each other. There are 30 winners total from 22 countries, and we were slightly emerged into the tight relationship because the Hallyu Wave itself. And on the next week, we became a family, through this trip.
For a week, we went to many places around Seoul.
On the 1st day we arrived in South Korea, we took a shuttle bus from Incheon International Airport to our hotel, Plaza Hotel, which is located in the heart of Seoul. While processing to check in, Al and me went to Myeongdong by foot. There was Seoul Summer Sale! We looked around and bought stuffs, with great sale. Then when we’re back to hotel, many of the participants has come. I also visit the stage of Kpop Star in front of our hotel before the KTO bus came. That day, we went to N Seoul Tower and there was a night light show, enjoying the amazing night view from Namsan and locked our first meeting experience there. We took our first team picture and then go back to hotel.
The 2nd day, we went to Korea Tourism Organization’s head office and had orientation there, where we met the project officer, project manager, our cute team managers, our tour guide, and also the KTO staffs. That day, we also went to DEF Dance School, a dance academy located in Gangnam, Seoul. There, we learned EXO’s Wolf dance and also had dance battle. After lunch, we went to SM Everysing for karaoke! We sang popular songs with team managers and the staffs, singing along and danced together. We were really exhausted but it was fun! Then we took a walk to do a company street tour. We passed by SM Entertainment who have a huge f(x) banner back then they were comeback with Rum Pum Pum Pum. We also passed by YG and JYP. Then we stopped right in front of Cube Entertainment and bought coffee in the Cube Cafe. After finishing our coffee and take a look at the gallery, we went to Gwangjang Market where we had ‘pajeon’ dinner, and everyone being given a 5000 won voucher to buy souvenirs! I bought a hair pin with the voucher and spend time with my friends.
On the 3rd day, we went to Skinanniversary in Paju. There, we checked our skin type to get a mask sheet for free! Then we shoot our profile pictures with a professional photographer and had lunch together. After came back to Seoul, we went to Bukcheon Hanok Village and took a tour and saw beautiful scenery around. The guide have traveled around the world, inculding Bali, Indonesia! He was so kind and gentle, explain us about the Bukcheon Hanok Village itself. Then we went to Korea House, where we learned how to cook Korean dish and try some of our own cook. We also tried to write in hangul and tried hanbok, Korean traditional clothes. After took a picture and had dinner, we went to a non-verbal performance which is so popular back then, JUMP! KTO also gave us souvenirs; a fan with our names on it, a flash disk from Korea in Motion Festival, and a T-Money card also from KMF.
It was the 4th day and I was so excited! We went to Lotte World~! There, we met a new friends who are learning to be a tour guide, then we did a short drama mission there. We also rode a few attractions, and because it was so HOT back then, we agreed to stay indoor and had lunch together. I also used my free time to go to ice rink, even when I didn’t know how to skate, but my friends taught me and accompanied me. Because our schedule is sooo tight, we hurried to go to Garosugil and lunch (again) and also take a walk along the fashion road. Then…we went to MBC to watch the Show! Champion!!! Back then, EXO and f(x) are doing their comeback and we got the first row!!! It was amazing how I broke my voice, calling out Kai’s name and scream when Amber give me some ribbon from the stage… That day, we also went to Banpo Bridge to watch the fountain show and have great dinner with Chicken and Maekju (no, I drank cola). And then I realized that day I ate 4 times.
The 5th day, we went to KTO Head Office to receive our certificate of appreciation and had lunch together with the CEO of KTO. Then we separated as groups to different places. Me and my group went to Gyeongbok Palace by subway, and shoot a promotional video. We were exhausted and slept on our way to somewhere? We didn’t know where we will go, while the schedule said that we are going to Dongdaemun Shopping Town. But then we arrived somewhere else and BOOM! It was a secret schedule prepared especially for us, we went to Ellui Club and attend ZE:A comeback showcase! Then after we arrived in hotel, me and some friends agreed to go to Dongdaemun by ourselves. It was 11 pm and we took the last subway to Dongdaemun. We look around, bought a souvenir for the staffs, and stayed there until 2 am. Then we back to hotel, exhausted and eager to face the last day of the tour!
Last day for us…the 6th day. I went to Soy’s room to shoot a good bye video and went to KBS Wave Magazine’s Head Office in Gangnam. We discussed about our plan and will continuing our partnership. Then it was our free time until dinner, and I have a promise to meet my friend in Cheonggyecheon Stream. So I took subway by myself and get lost. I gave up after walk round 7 times in the station and took a cab to Jonggak Station. I met him after craving for free wifi in the street and then we went to Insadong. There I bought a backpack and looked around to the crowded. The KTO bus picked me up to go to Hongdae for the farewell dinner. We recall our days and then doing games, and finally…watched our goodbye videos. It makes us all cried, especially when the team managers said goodbye :'( We hugged each other, gave souvenirs and letters, said thank you, and all. The underage went back to hotel (including me) and the other said goodbye there. But as soon as I arrived in the hotel, my best friend picked me up and we went to Hongdae again! I was prohibited because I am underage but my friend said that it will be okay. Hongdae is such a great place to spend all night, because it is always crowded. Foods, accessories, street performances, clubs, there was no excuse to skip. We came back to hotel, almost midnight and said goodbye to each other too.
The departure day, I went down to the Lounge to have breakfast and everyone seem sad to go. We’re giving souvenirs again and said goodbye again, with much tears, again. Then I pack my things, leave a good review for the housekeeper. I rode a bus to the Incheon International Airport once again, with Allysa. And we could say that it was a really great experience, and it was hard to leave.
I will never getting tired to recall and cherish the memories we’ve made in South Korea. How everyone became one heart, keeping each other safe, feeding each other, talking and sharing each other. How I met a great and unexpected people there, how they respect and warmly greeting us every morning. How they gave us a morning call one by one because they didn’t want us to be late for the schedule. And everything will be very precious to remember, while everything seems impossible for me and they looked me in the eyes and told me that nothing is more special than us. Every beautiful place that shed up our experiences will also remained in our eyes, how South Korea means a lot for us, and for me particularly.
Nothing can beat our family-like friendship. And you know, world is just a little thumbs to go, as long as you have your friend beside you. Surfing the Korean Wave 2013 family, Korea Tourism Organization, project managers, team managers, tour guides, and all the related staffs. Thank you for such a wonderful trip I’ve ever know. :’)
“We will cherish these moments together as time passed by.”