By Raja Erina Soraya Raja Mohd Firdaus
Going to Korea always required preparation well ahead. My mother and I would check out the prevailing temperature and set out a list of all the things we would need according to the weather.
It was winter the last trip. That called for packing essentials like warm clothing, but we were careful not to overdo the packing. We did not want to be caught with less either in the cold!
While most people travel to Korea from end April to mid-May to catch the spring season with its offer of warm, sunny days with clear skies, my family and I had no choice this time but to travel during the cold of December due to the clash in school term and my mother’s working schedule.
As Muslim travellers, we paid careful attention to where and what we would be eating. Korea is
famous for its barbeque styled grilled meat and this is where we found Google a useful partner in our search for halal restaurants. We found pretty nice halal restaurants nearby the hotel where we were staying in Seoul and also in Nami, a popular island close to Seoul, which we headed to soon after we arrived.
In Nami, where the famous Korean drama Winter Sonata was shot, we found the delightful Asian Food Restaurant
Dongmoon. Set right in the center plaza of Nami Island, the restaurant, certified halal by the Korea Muslim Federation, serves a variety of food.
As learning the culture of all the countries I travel to is part of my travel passion, I found myself absorbing as much information I could about the history and culture of Korea.
Korea has many historical places that have been preserved from the olden days and I did not want to miss out on visiting some of the famous ones.
So, I found myself standing in front of the Changdeokgung palace and enjoying not only the sight of the ancient palaces surrounding it but also Korea’s modern skyscrapers as the palace is situated right in the center of Seoul city.
I could almost “see” the transitioning of Korea from its ancient times to the present day, as I moved along with other tourists from one palace to another in the area.
Inside Changdeokgung palace, there’s a museum for tourists to learn about the history of Korea with
tour guides taking them through the palace and explaining to them in the tourists’ chosen language.
This was a real treat for a history lover like me, and it was a quality time well spent.
Learning the Korean culture was also easy I found. The Korean government has set up cultural centres
for tourists throughout the city and provinces.
No holidays are complete without the talk of local food. So next was a visit to the Kimchi Making School and how I failed to make a perfect kimchi, Korea’s all-time favourite dish.
Part Two of Annyeonghasaeyo Korea! will be published on April 17.
P.S. Annyeonghasaeyo means Hello in the Korean language.