These days, I’m into travelling to chase events, like the Winter Olympics since it was held in Asia. This year is the same. And the event? The 10th Philippine International Pyromusical Competition held at SM Clark, Pampanga.
Waaaiitt.. Yes, you’ve read it right. The competition this year was held at SM Clark and not SM Mall of Asia (SM MOA). At first I was surprised at this. What’s the reason behind the change of venue? It has been tradition for the past competitions for it to be held at SM MOA, their flagship mall.
At first, of course, the lazy bum in me is complaining. I was from south Manila so it was more convenient for me to go to SM MOA. Well actually, anyone from Metro Manila would prefer it to be in SM MOA? Is are they hyping SM Clark? Hahaha
After a little research, I found our that the move was quite reasonable. In full support of the ongoing Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program of the DENR, SM Supermalls moved the venue from SM Mall of Asia to SM Clark. I’ve attended one of these before. The setup is by the bay of MOA, and the fireworks explode above the sea. So it actually makes sense not to do it in Manila since the Manila Bay will be polluted again after 6 weekends of fireworks competition.
Moving on, the show we were able to watch was the one on March 23, 2019. The countries performing were China (Polaris Fireworks) and Canada (Fireworks Spectaculars).
Here are some photos from the sky. Please enjoy them. I was excited to attend this because it’s my first time testing my new Osmo Pocket for anything. Haha.
The competition and awarding was held the following week, March 30, 2019. My friend who attended the event told me that the winner for this year was China. As someone who watched the performance, it was really different.
Both countries that competed had strengths. The Canada performance was hip and fun as all the music were familiar. Timing and the fireworks used for the songs were cohesive too. For China though, they were well organized. But really, their advantage was scale. Coverage of the fireworks when they explode up in the air was really wide. I think it’s something you would have to experience yourself to understand. Well, Chinese did invent fireworks, so they have 2 millenniums advantage. Hahaha. Just kidding.
I guess this would be one of the events I would be anticipating every year. Though I’m not committing attendance yet (hahaha). It maybe something I would do it cheer myself up or if I want to experience something magical. Until next time. 🙂
“Is Learn Korean Ph a good school?”, that’s probably one of the first questions I asked while I was canvasing for language schools in Manila. Almost a year after being with them, I can confirm it.
It was May 25, 2018, when I decided to take my hobby seriously from learning Korean words from Running Man and K-Drama, to actually taking a class. I took my search to Facebook and Google to look for language classes in Manila. My dilemmas were: If it fits my schedule, it was too expensive. If it’s affordable, it’s on a weekday – so nope.
I came across Learn Korean Ph (Hangeul Gyoshil) from a friend’s timeline. I was curious about the school and I cannot stress that I really really really wanted to learn, so I messaged her about it. Ultimately, she was able to give me enough information to convince myself to go for it. To try this school.
And this is what I’m doing now. As a way to give back because I’m grateful to be given a chance to study here, I also what those without connections to have the information I was given. Hopefully this will be enough for you to decide to take a step forward and start your Korean-language learning at Hangeul Gyoshil.
What’s in Store for You?
One of the reason’s you may be reading this blog is to find out what’s being taught here. You maybe in the middle of choosing a school. I remember my friend telling me that she was iffy to enroll because there was no curriculum published. What’s covered in Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced?
I think won’t really find any. Just like a regular school, you will just find out the curriculum of a subject when you enroll for the sem or if a senior student gives you pointers. So just to help, here’s an overview of the coverage for Beginner Level:
Office and Places
Telling Dates and Setting Appointments
The resource material is really good. It doesn’t start with technical stuff immediately. What I like about it is that the book was made as a reference for immigrants, so a lot of practical stuff and words are taught early.
I also like the teaching style, grammar and vocabulary are taught together. Some schools focus on expanding vocabulary first. Though I think vocabulary is important, I also think that if you teach grammar and vocabulary alongside it, the retention of vocabulary is better. This is because I see the usage/application in the lessons already. For me, this kind of foundation is good.
My friend who is studying at a different school started almost the same time as me, doesn’t know how to write basic sentences yet. At intermediate we’re sometimes asked to write about 24-32 sentences per week. In Advanced Level, the teacher told us we’re going to start writing paragraphs. This friend told me that she will enroll next season to Hangeul Gyoshil.
Because I was determined to learn, I started the Beginner’s course alone. My friend who enrolled with me, dropped out after the first class because of her busy weekend schedule. I didn’t want my money to go to waste by quitting because I had no friends in class, so I continued. Companionship would probably be the hardest obstacle in attending classes, not really the lessons. I’ve seen it happen a lot of times. If a friend drops-out, their companions mostly drop-out too.
I ask people who are alone in enrolling not to worry. I was a loner for about a month into the Beginner’s program, until we were assigned group works. My groupmates then became my friends in Hangeul Gyoshil. We send pointers, reviewers, and help each other out to understand each lesson we go through. Sometimes, after class, we would watch movies or eat out. On our last day of together at Beginner Level, we ate at a good restaurant to celebrate us finishing the course. I’m lucky to have them because we encouraged each other to work hard and graduate Beginner Level together.
In Intermediate Level, this group is solidified. Our Intermediate Class is the pioneer of the Triad Groupings, something that our teacher came up with. Aside from individual homeworks, we are asked to do group tasks per week to widen vocabulary and grammar. I think in our case, the triad system worked because everyone was serious about learning. It was a great support system for me, especially since I got sick and had so many absences in Intermediate level. I thought I wouldn’t be able to catch-up but I did. I heard that the Triad Groupings will be adapted in Beginner Level as well.
This is the fun part. I have no pictures because I was too lazy to take some for activities, and some are special lectures and videos. Basically, this is where we learn about Korean culture. Subject-matter classes vary per season. For example, in Season 17 Beginner, they had a Taekwando session. We didn’t have that, we had a cooking class and a K-Pop Karaoke (Noraebang) session. In Season 19, there was no cooking class, but a cuture weekend, where you can try different Korean foods, products, and have a Hanbok photo-op.
The subject matter lectures talk about history and modern life in Korea. Some of the topics we covered are Clothing, K-Pop, K-Drama, Transport System, Landmarks, Tourist Sites, Government Services, and Health System.
This will of course be different for each person. I believe I’m quite hard-working in studying but I have classmates that are even more so. Some of the things I’ve noticed are the following. Note that these are personal improvements:
I can hear the words better in k-dramas and k-variety shows now.
I was surprised with myself too, but I can understand dialogues through context clues. While waiting for an episode of Super TV, they released some teasers of the Jeju trip. I understood the conversation in the car even without subtitles.
You will realize that some subs are not the literal translations. This is okay for me though. Translators have the creative freedom to deliver the messages better in their language.
I push myself to read fast. This is actually a personal goal. This is not part of Hangeul Gyoshil. In my free time during weekends, I sing k-pop songs in Hangeul to train my eyes to read fast. This also helps with pronunciation.
Also related to songs, I memorize them in Hangeul as well. It’s part of the my personal training.
I’ve started translating on my own. Sometimes the song translations found in the internet are weird. I take it a step further and try to understand the songs I like on my own.
At some point, you will get used to Hangeul alphabet, and you will no longer need to “Romanize” them.
Also regarding Romanized lyrics found in the internet, you will notice that these are mostly per letter translations. Pronunciation rules are not taken into account. I make my own notes on the lyrics pronunciation as well.
I do use Korean abroad. I tried speaking with a group my friend and I encountered at a theme park in Bangkok. I have an upcoming trip to Korea soon. I hope I would be able to hold conversations already.
Experience it yourself!
Don’t overthink this and just experience it for yourself! Season 20 of Hangeul Gyoshil is about to start. Our enrollment is on April 7, 2019.
Classes for the season will be from April – July 2019. Fee is Php 700 (500 for activities and 200 for the book). The season usually lasts for 16 weeks, if there are no major holidays and weather disturbances.
It’s been 5 months since I’ve been to Bangkok and I wanted to write more about I’m only finding the energy to to do now. I wasn’t motivated to write the couple of months because I was studying Hangul Intermediate Class and all my extra time goes to homework and memorizing vocabulary. Now, we’re on a 1 month break before I take advanced classes so I’ll do this now. Hahaha
Moving on, I found another must-visit place in Bangkok that I put in my itinerary last October and it is….
Choco Ville is Bangkok’s biggest theme park restaurant located Kaset-Nawamin Road, Bueng Kum District, Bangkok (at the outskirts of Bangkok). Yes, it’s actually a BIG restaurant with a “dine in the park” concept. The village is European-themed. I felt like being back to Denmark while I was there. As my friends said in my IG feed, “Lakas maka-Europe!” (It’s a Filipino joke which means it really looks like Europe, even if you’re not there.)
Here are some photos I took from the place. I’m writing some details in the captions. Please enjoy the photos. 🙂 How to go there and tips after the photos. Hahaha
How To Go There
The recommended option from most blogs I’ve read is to take a taxi. There’s no low-cost public transportation available going there. But, the cab option is quite affordable I’ve read that it’s about 250 Baht – 350 Baht depending on where you’re coming from.
What we did is actually to use Grab. The rates were pretty close to the estimates above, but with Grab, it saves us the trouble of explaining where to go. The pin does it for us. haha (I swear this is not a sponsored post). You may think, why not Uber? For those who don’t know, Uber left South East Asia because of the complicated transport rules of countries there (including ours, Philippines) among other reasons. It’s sad, but we have to move on. So, if you’re in a SEA country, you can use Grab instead.
We spent about 250 Baht for the fare and 100 Baht for the toll fee. So the budget for a one way trip is about 350 Baht through Grab. Going home is the same, so prepare about 700 Baht (Php 1,160 / 22 USD). Our starting point was Chatuchak market. Better to go there with 4 people in the group so the fare can be smaller if it’s divided by 4.
Be there as early as 2:30-3:00pm. Busses of tourists arrive around 4:00pm. I you want a less crowded time to take photos, better be there early.
Food budget – Food is a little pricey. We ordered a chicken dish, rice, and lasagna for less than 700 Baht (Php 1,160/ 22 USD). So I guess you can budget 400-500 Baht per person if you want to eat the good dishes.
Whenever I travel abroad, I try to squeeze in unique places to visit. Like a shoot location, a special museum, or an activity you can only do in that place. I look for things that are not too popular but are so underrated that I feel the need tell its story and encourage people to experience it as well. For my Thailand trip last September, this place was Ancient Siam.
I only heard about it from a friend who hasn’t been there too. We talked about it in passing a few months ago. Then, I researched to decide if it was worth putting in my itinerary. When I was there, I didn’t expect to enjoy it that much. It was my day 1 activity. In my next days of exploring Bangkok, I felt that no experience tops it. Seriously (except food maybe hahaha). Anyway, what’s Ancient Siam anyway?
Ancient Siam or Ancient City (Thai: Mueang Boran) is a museum park occupying over 200 acres (0.81 km2) in the shape of Thailand. It is dubbed as the world’s largest outdoor museum. The 320-hectare “city” features 116 structures of Thailand’s famous monuments and architectural attractions. The grounds of Ancient Siam correspond roughly to the shape of the kingdom, with the monuments lying at their correct places geographically. Some of the buildings are life-size replicas of existing or former sites, while others are scaled down. The replicas were constructed with the assistance of experts from the National Museum to ensure historical accuracy.
After reading about this place, I decided that I JUST HAVE TO GO THERE. I let go of a lot of modern attractions I originally planned to visit in Bangkok just to manage my time and it was the right decision. My only regret was not following the recommendation I read to allot 1 full day for this. I spent 4 hours in Ancient Siam but was only able to finish touring half of it. I’ll definitely be back to tour the other half.
How to go there
The Recommended Option
The location of this attraction is at Samut Prakarn, at the south east of Bangkok, so it’s a bit far from the usual city landmarks you’ll visit. The cheapest way to get there is to take the BTS train and alight at the nearest station. After that, take a taxi to Ancient Siam. It’s not walking distance from any train station so you really have to take a taxi.
STEP 1: Take the BTS to Samrong Station. Fare depends on where you come from. Check Google Maps for reference on the train fare.
STEP 2: Take a taxi from Samrong Station to Ancient City. Fare is around 120 – 180 Baht (Php 205-305).
This is the option we went with going back to the city in the evening.
What we did (Hahaha)
We were kind of late since I was stuck at the airport for an hour because of the line the Klook booth. Anyway, because we were saving time, we decided to take Grab.
The good thing about grab is that you can easily pin the location. It saves you the effort of explaining where you’ll go. It’s a bit hard to communicate because of the language barrier so Grab made this trip easier for us.
I think the fare was just okay. Not too cheap or expensive considering it was a 45-minute ride from our place. We spent 260 Baht for the fare and 100 Baht for the toll (Php 605 all in). If you’re a group of 3-4 people, I’d recommend this option for convenience.
There is a total of 121 stations that you can visit. Honestly, I didn’t really look at the map that much when I was there. Since we were cramming everything in 4 hours, we weren’t able to take pictures in all of the stations. Here are some of the sites we were able to see.
My suggestion really is to map it out. I didn’t plan my visit so well so I missed important sites. You can check the map of the place and research about it before you visit so you know which sites you’d like to see. Refer to the Wikipedia link below for reference.
Entrance fee is 700 Baht (Php 1,176) which includes a choice to tour on bicycle or on tram. You can also avail of the audio recorder guide where you could listen about the history of each attraction. We didn’t really use it when we were there. We preferred reading signage and history per station.
I got the tickets cheaper at Php 804 since I booked this on Klook. That’s a 31% discount.
350 Baht if you have a Thai work permit.
9:00am – 7:00pm Everyday
Be there early. It will take a day to explore without rushing.
I read that you can actually enjoy lunch at the floating market (#45), but I didn’t get to see it since it was closed in the afternoon.
Bring water. You’ll be thirsty from all the biking. You can also buy cold water from the concessionaires. It costs 20 Baht.
I didn’t get to do this but I read that it’s good to make station 72 as your last stop for a great sunset view. The audio guide needs to be returned at 6:00pm so if you want to catch the sunset and stay a little longer, don’t take the audio guide.
During my trip back to South Korea last February, I was fortunate enough to have my friend Rann with me. She’s one of my k-wave buddies. Since it’s a first time for both of us to travel with a k-wave fan, we decided to go to the ultimate k-drama destination, Dae Jang Geum Park (MBC Dramia). Having this in the itinerary is unusual since it’s not so popular with first-time tourists to Korea. However, if you are a historical k-drama fan, this is a must-go destination.
While I was researching about it, I found out that there were very few resources/blogs written about the place. It’s a bit far from Seoul. We almost cut it off our itinerary because of bad weather, but I’m glad we didn’t. So I’m writing this post to try to excite and encourage people to visit Dae Jang Geum Park. I promise that it won’t disappoint.
Dae Jang Geum Park, previously known as MBC Dramia was an outdoor film set owned by MBC. It’s located at Yongin, Gyeonggi-do province. I believe sets of Jewel in the Palace were built here for the 2003 drama. However, the park was only opened to tourists in 2011.
MBC continued to expand this to be a big set for it’s other historical dramas. Popular dramas shot here are Jumong, Moon Embracing the Sun, Dong Yi, Queen Sheondeok, Empress Ki, and more recently 100 Days My Prince. The complex features permanent sets imitating buildings from the Korean Three Kingdoms, Goryeo, and Joseon.
HOW TO GO THERE
Take the Seoul Subway (Orange Line / Line 3) and alight at Nambu Bus Terminal Station.
Ride a bus to Baekam (백암) and alight at Baekam Bus Terminal. The ticket costs about 4,500 KRW but prepare extra in case the fare increased.
Don’t go down once the bus stops. Baekam is not the first stop. Baekam is the third stop after Yang Ji (양지) and Jwa Jeon (좌전). The trip from Seoul to Baekam is 50 minutes. You have to listen well in the recording to know if it’s the right stop. If you’re not sure, sit near the driver and ask if it’s Baekam. I remember I asked the driver, “Ajusshi, Baekam yogi-yo?” (Is this Baekam?), when we traveled. If they say, “Ne”, it means yes. If they say, “Aniyo”, it’s not.
Take Bus 105 (photo below). The last stop of this bus is Dae Jang Geum Park. The bus interval is around 50 minutes to 120 minutes. You can look at the monitors in the bus stop to check if a bus is near and how many minutes left until it arrives. If you miss it, you can take a taxi going to Yongin Dae Jang Geum Park. The taxi trip is about 10 to 15 minutes and costs 8,500 KRW. If you’re a big group, just take a taxi.
NOTE: For the #105 Bus, get on at the Hanaro Drugstore (across Baekam Bus Terminal) when you are heading to Dae Jang Geum Park. If you’re going back to Seoul, buy a ticket and get on at the Baekam Bus Terminal.
IMPORTANT! The last bus to Baekam leaves the park at 5:00pm (Winter Season). Ask the staff in the counter if the time is different for Summer Season. I think it closes at 6:00pm.
Here are some more photos of the sites we’ve visited. Rann and I only had two hours to tour so we handpicked the sites we wanted to see. I’ve included the attraction number on the photos so you can check the location on the map above. My tip is to leave Seoul early, like 7-8am, so you can have a longer time to explore the park.
Also, you can rent hanboks here for 20,000 KRW. We didn’t have time to do this but I will surely be back to remedy this. I realized that pictures will really look better if you have traditional hanboks on.
Upon entering the park, the first attraction you will see is the Jewel in the Palace Set. Kitchen scenes were done here. Below is my photo with some of the character standees. In front of the building, you will see Jang Geum and the captain.
There were also standees of Lee Seung Gi, Suzy, and other artists who did MBC historical dramas but I was only able to take a picture with the Kim Soo Hyun one.
Maybe because it was winter when I went there that the marketplace set was not setup. I’ve seen photos of other tourists where tables and props were displayed. Anyway, this area was also used in Dong Yi, Moon Embracing the Sun, Warrior K, Tale of Arang and the Lord, The King’s Doctor, and Hur Jun, the Original Story. I still have to check but I think this was also in Ruler Master of the Mask.
Update: I also saw this Palace in 100 Days My Prince. Keeping my eye out for historical dramas that film here.
I had two reasons why I wanted to visit this place. The first one was this bridge. I wanted to see this bridge. This scene was really iconic for me when I watched Empress Ki, because I love Ji Chang Wook. Hahahaha
Update: This was also in the first scene of the Episode 1 of 100 Days My Prince, where D.O. of EXO was standing. I already went here when I watched the drama so I was so shocked to see it.
I kind of developed a habit because of this place. Whenever I see prison scenes in historical dramas, I check if this was the set used. Hahahaha
I discovered this scene after I visited Dae Jang Geum Park. I watched Hwayugi (Korean Odyssey) after I went there. Since the sets were still fresh on my mind, I was able to spot that this was the shoot location for episode 2. I also discovered that other networks rent this place to film as well, since TVN produced Hwayugi, not MBC.
The 2nd reason I wanted to go here is to see the Military Drill Hall, a set in Splash Splash Love. Please watch that movie. Kim Seul Gi is such a great actress. I first discovered her in Oh My Ghost. Hahaha. Yes, I’m promoting Splash Splash Love here! 🙂
So there you go! I hope I was able to convince you to visit Dae Jang Geum Park. If you recognize the sets from other dramas, please do tell me. Also, let me know your experience after you visit, okay?
I’ve included other details below for your reference. There’s no restaurant in the area so I suggest you eat a heavy meal. There is a cafe and vendos in the park where you can purchase food and drinks. It’s not in the rules but please refrain from eating while touring the sets.
Adults (age over 19): 7,000 KRW
Middle and High School Students (age 13 – 18): 6,000 KRW
Children (age 4-12): 5,000 KRW
Pre-schooler under 4): Free
Special discount rate is applied to locals (living in Yongin), group tour (minimum 20 persons), the disabled, senior citizens, and veterans, when supporting documents are presented.
Summer Season (Mar – Oct): 9:00 – 18:00
Winter Season (Nov – Feb): 9:00 – 17:00
The park is open throughout the year.
Admission is allowed until 1 hour before the closing time.
PLEASE BE AWARE OF THE FOLLOWING DURING YOUR VISIT!
Visitors may be restricted from accessing some of the places in the park, including filming sites, for synchronous recording of sound and picture is often required during filming. Please note that this restriction cannot be a reason to get a refund on the ticket cost.
Due to the characteristics of the filming sets, wheelchairs and strollers may not be allowed. Please pay particular attention to the safety of children and senior citizens.
Visitors are restricted from accessing indoor filming sets.
Just recently, I returned to South Korea with my friends to experience the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. The reason for this is because Winter Olympic events are usually far from my country, like Vancouver and Sochi, so we’re taking advantage of it being near. Anyway, as part of our side-trips, we decided to try the 8-layer seafood tower near Bongcheon station (green line).
We found out about this when Ron suggested to come here after he saw this blog post from Happiebb (http://happiebb.com/blog/2015/05/28/nine-layers-of-steamed-shells/). I’d like to thank her for sharing this online, otherwise we wouldn’t have experienced this. The post was dated May 2015, so there were already changes when we went there. Thus, I decided to write my own post as a reference for those interested.
The restaurant’s name is 무한조개구이까까 (muhanjogaegu-ikkakka). It means “Infinite Shellfish Grilled” in English. It gained it’s popularity after it was featured in a KBS show called 생생정보통 (Live Info Show), where their 9-layer steamed shells dish(9단조개찜 pronounced as ku-dan-jo-gaej-jim) was shown.
According to the blog post, the 9-layer seafood tower can feed five to eight people. We were a party of 4 and only ordered the 8-layer one. We were only supposed to buy the 5-layer tower, but we wanted the cheese scallops so we opted for 8 layers instead. It’s important to note that you can’t choose which layers you want to have. The layers are pre-selected. So, if you want to eat a specific layer that’s in the later part of the line-up, you have to buy the package. You can go as low as 3 layers to as high as 9 layers.
So, what’s in the 8-layer tower? Here’s a run-down of what we ate plus pictures!
A tip from us: If you’re a party of 4-6 people, you don’t need to order rice. The seafood tower is enough to make your tummies full.
Some of the prices of the dishes have changed since 2015. Here’s a shot of the 2018 menu:
모듬조개찜스페셜8단 (modeumjogaejjim seupesyeol pal(8) dan) – 8 Stages of Mussel Special – KRW 100,000/ USD 94/ PHP 4,880
모듬조개찜스페셜9단 (modeumjogaejjim seupesyeol gu(9) dan) – 9 Stages of Mussel Special – KRW 110,000/ USD 103/ PHP 5,370
*For the special, I think they change one of the layers to prawns. I’m not sure which layer gets replaced.
How to go there:
The restaurant was quite easy to find but some of the landmarks we were looking for in Happiebb’s post were not there anymore. I’ve updated the map and instructions for easier reference.
924-40, Bongcheon-dong, Gwanak-gu, Seoul, Korea
주소: 서울시 관악구 봉천동 924-40
** Only walk-ins. No reservation.
(Mon – Sat) 4pm till late (We left about 11pm when we went there.)
(Sun) 3pm till late