The Youth Camp
Of course, I definitely had the time of my life! Apart from the fact that I am now stepping the same land, breathing the same air, and eating the same food variety as my dear Jang Geun Suk, Hyun Bin, and Jung Yong Hwa, I find it hard to believe that I was really able to make memories in the country that I have always wanted to visit—the Land of the Morning Calm, South Korea.
This youth camp didn’t only allow me to meet new friends, it also opened my eyes to the colourful culture of the Korean people—from their traditional Hanbok, to the spicy Kimchi, up to the famous SNSD moves.
We stayed at five hotels and visited four places. I remember the International Youth Center with the drizzling rain and cold breeze that our window offers to us every morning. And how can I forget the Gyungnam Youth Hostel where I experienced sleeping in traditional Korean-style where there’s one long sleeping area and there are approximately 20 people in one room (not to mention the traditional way of taking a bath, goodness! Laughs). And of course, the sophisticated Lotte Buyeo Resort. The hotel that gave me one amazing VIP-like experience. From the suites up to the sumptuous meals, simply extravagant. Then there’s the Yangji Pine Resort which I think I would appreciate more if there’s the glowing white snow that would welcome us in the morning. And finally, the Seoul Garden Hotel that gave me my most heart-warming memories, dancing at our own version of 2NE1’s “I am the Best” and having BBQ parties with our newly-found Asian best friends.
I wouldn’t dare to forget the Korean Language class I took at Ewha Woman’s University where I met the wackiest classmates I never had. And the International Youth Festival held at Yeosu Odong-do where I allowed myself to dance my heart out during the concert night and scream at the top of my lungs during the speed boat ride the next day. I also had a lot of fun doing the Mission Game at Jeonju Traditional Korean Village where me and my team mates posed to take pictures like we don’t give any care to the world.
I felt my eyes widened as I witness Korea’s 10-year plan with the Saemanguem Tide Embankment. And at an External Restaurant, my tongue got to experience the familiar taste of chicken adobo during the Haneulchae, a Korean style buffet. I was able to bond with the other delegates during the Quiz on Asia and Runway (where people crossed-dressed) as a form of cultural exchange. Another cultural immersion activity is the traditional performance offered by the 24 participating countries. It was where I get to experience performing once again, with an international audience at that! Smiles.
Then I get to bond once again with the other Asian participants during our Mini Olympics activity. Then, I was so amazed that I would have the chance to experience playing the Korean reality show, Running Man at one of the traditional places built in Korea, the Baekje Cultural Land. It felt like Princess Hours and Jumong was shot in this very location. And then, one of the most memorable experiences I had was when I played the Domino Game together with my fellow Filipino friends. It was nerve-wracking. I also felt very thrilled, like making each domino piece stand would define the game’s life or death.
I will also remember the green pastures and the picturesque landscape that lies outside the bus during our hours and hours of road trips. I had some me-time in every bus ride we made. And I felt elated every time we make some stop-overs and eat our meal at the Express Way Service area, always wondering what kind of food I’m going to eat this time. It just intensified my cravings for Filipino food. And then, AND THEN, I had the time of my life (like this is really is it!) when we had one whole afternoon enjoying fun rides at Korea’s Everland. I experienced my very first real roller-coaster ride at their T-Express, a wooden coaster known for its super-steep feature. SUPER STEEP. Until now, I can’t still quite believe that I was able to ride this superb theme park jaunt.
This is the part where I would want to be drowned in the sea of super fan girls. We visited MBC, home of the Endless Love Series and Heartstrings, and get to watch a K-pop show live. And though I wasn’t able to see their live performance, I was still able to have a personal look at the stage where Su-ju made their comeback. I was gobsmacked with the idea. I get to heighten this experience when I took K-pop dance class. Me, dancing the K-pop way, who would’ve imagined that? It was fabulous. FABulous.
I was also able to visit Korea’s World Cup Stadium which was huge. So. Huge. Laughs. And then, we went to another traditional palace, Gyeongbokgung, and strolled beside the beautiful Cheonggye Stream where buildings at the heart city of Seoul towered above us. It felt nice to see first hand how Koreans were able to marry their traditional culture with their modern practices. I also get to shop cultural memorabilias at Insa-dong. It was like the Divisoria of Korea. Laughs.
Then, I could say that this particular exposure is the highlight of this trip. We experienced one fantastic cruise at THE Han-gang River where the Korean movie, “Cast Away on the Moon”, was shot. Amidst the excited squeals of the people, I felt serene. I took in the cold breeze, the music of the splashing river water, the sparkling city lights, the grand view of the bridges, and every remembrance South Korea gave me. The day after, I was able to shop my heart out at the famous Myeong-dong. So…classy. I can’t believe I was able to see in person the very place featured in Chinggay Labrador’s Popped.