A Journey to South Korea

1st Day (Date: October 22, 2009 | Time: 15.30 – 22.00)

I left my home at 15.30 pm using by taxi cab. I brought 5 baggage’s which were for my personal things, display properties, hand bag, computer laptop, and the banner.

It takes 1 hour to get me on the Soekarno Hatta airport. Faster than I predicted, but I thought that was better. I met with other Indonesian participant, Ms. Saara Suaib, Teacher from Al Azhar Junior High School, Mr. Jusman Sihombing, Head of Science Section, Indonesian National Commission for UNESCO, and also Mr. Taufik Dahlan, Head of Media Relation Section of the Ministry of National Education. As we saw each other, we were check-in to Korean Airlines booth. Then we gone to the terminal F1 to wait our plane. Please do not bring any liquid things on your cabin bagage. The airport officer gonna took it in order to safety rule.

Our plane was departed at 22.00 pm. Then the dinner time has come, the stewardess offer me two option, dinner with common food or Korean food, then I choose the Korean food, to taste how Korean food is. That Korean food called “Bibimbap” or in Indonesian it called “nasi campur”. Bibimbap is a popular Korean dish. The word literally means “mixed meal.” Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with sliced beef, sautéed and seasoned vegetables and chili paper paste. The ingredients are stirred together thoroughly just before eating. It’s very delicious, mmmm yammy…. :p

2nd Day (Date October 23, 2009 | Time: 07.00 – 21.00)

It takes 6 hours by plane to reach Incheon International Airport. We arrived at the Incheon International Airport at 7.00. It was a very huge, very neat, very clean and modern airport.

After finished Immigration things, we claimed our baggage and at the exit gate, and we went to the bank for exchane the currency from Indonesian Rupiahs and US Dollars into Korean Won. I suggest you to change your currency in Indonesia first before come here, because it more cheaper in Indonesia than here.

So, at the exit gate, we met with Kim and Yummi, the intern staff of Korean National Commission for UNESCO, as the organizer. They welcomed us, and they are very friendly to us. They explained to us that the venue of the forum is far enough from the Airport so we must took bus to get there. They bought us the ticket, it cost 17.700 won or equal to Rp 177.000 (wowwww it’s very expensive, isn’t?). The bus called Airport Limousine. I didn’t ask to them why the bus was called limousine. They were not accompanied us, we must left the airport by ourselves. Someone from the organizer would be on the final terminal to pick us. The temperature was cool perhaps at 180 degree Celsius.

Finally we got the bus. The bus was very convenience. One row of seats just fills with three persons, now I knew why it called Limousine. It was a long journey by bus. I was amaze with the modern of Korea. They manage very well their city, so many flower plants that decorate the city. We observed that on the highway we had along, there was no Japanese car but Korean. We also observed the Korean people, it seems we had some common global trends such us the fashion, the gadget, the lifestyle. It was same with Indonesian people.

Then we had to stop on transfer terminal about 15 minutes. We took that chance to go to the rest room. Even the terminal was not a huge terminal but the rest room was state-of-the arts. Everything was mechanized such as the toilet and the wash table. The interesting one was I found that there was Condom machine in the men’s rest room. Then I wonder what if I put in my 500 won coin into the box and what will happen, then the machine exclude small box that contain some text and off course condom itself. It seems the local government tried to decrease HIV/AIDS infection by educate their citizen with sex education, the words was interesting, “Sex is not a sports but communication of soul”.

I found an interesting one, we buy some bread and drinking water at the small booth, even the Korean seller couldn’t speak English but she used the calculator to tell us about the price. Then we talked to each other that the price here was cheaper than at the Incheon International Airport, but the lady seller misunderstood us, she feel that we have been cheated by her, then she explained us about the price and how to calculated the price. This shown that Korean people is honest even to the stranger.

Fifteen minutes after, the bus continued its travel. Totally, it takes 2 hours to get Icheon city from Icheon International Airport. Finally we arrived in the Icheon City. The bus driver himself helped us to unloading our baggage. The bus driver is professional driver. There was no co-driver on the bus just only the bus driver.

Then a young gentleman from Intern Staff of Korean National Commission for UNESCO welcomes us. His name is Kwon. He helped us to found the taxi cab and please us used the taxi.

Every taxi cab in Korea has GPS to help the driver cab in driving. They were using a high tech gadget to make their job more efficient. The distance of the venue from the Icheon city is 20 km and it reached by 15 minutes driving. Even Icheon city is small city but the city is very clean and well managed. I just couldn’t find any trash on there. I asked to the taxi driver cab, whose clean the city is. He just pointed to road-cleaning truck. The scenery during the trip to the venues was very interesting, so many rice farm in here. It stated that the Royal family only ate the rice from Icheon farm.

Then we arrived at Korean UNESCO Peace Center, the venue of the Forum at 11.00 am. The location was very far from the city and the hamlet. I think this place was an ideal place to hold a conference or meeting. It was quiet and calm. The organizer welcomes us and helps us unloading our baggage, and then we had our room. The organizer was very appreciating our privacy, even we came from same country but they provide us a room for a person.

The weather was good but cool. After we had place our baggage in our room, then we came to Meeting Hall to meet the organizer, we had been brief by the organizer about next agenda and tomorrow agenda. They also give us the space for exhibition and to put our project display. At 12.00 we had lunch on dining hall. The organizer was very professional, they put the names in the Korean food that served to us so the participant not confuse with the lunch that we were going to eat. Fortunately, the foods were familiar with us, and they also provide Halal food for the participant from Indonesia, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan. We also met with other International participant from Sri Lanka, they arrived before us. After we talked and had a lunch, we return to our room to get rest.

At 4.00 pm, we go to the Exhibition Room on the Meeting Hall. We prepared our project display over there till 19.00 pm. Then we had dinner at the dinning hall, after that we continued our work to prepare our project display. We had been inspected by ASPnet School International Coordinator from UNESCO HQ, Ms. Sigrid Neidermayer and her assistant, Ms. Ulrike Storost. Sigrid amazed with Al Izhar banner, she said the banner was very good and very professional, she likes the words from the banner which is “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now”. She also interested at the 12th grade yearbook of Al Izhar Senior High School. She asked to me, who made the yearbook is, and then I answered the students made this. She appraise that our students are very creative especially photograph at the swimming pool. And the one that makes me surprised that she was the person who suggest Indonesia to be involve in GigaPan project with Carnegie-Melon University, Pittsburgh, USA. She has purposes that to understanding Moslem country and trying not to make some prejudice to Moslem peoples. We finished our work at 21.00 pm. There were officers from Korean National Commission for UNESCO give a positive comment about our projects.

3rd Day (Date: October 24, 2009 | Time: 07.00 – 21.00)

This day was the opening day of the forum. We started with the breakfast in the dinning hall at 7.00 till 8.00 am.

Then we had participant orientation at 9.00 am. We introduced ourselves to the other participants and the organizer. We also had been brief by the organizer about the next agenda which was the opening at 11.00 am.

The opening was inaugurated by Dr. Taeck-Soo Chun, the Secretary-General of Korean National Commission for UNESCO, then continued with 20 minutes photo session that followed by all of the participants and the organizer.

I surprised that many Korean people couldn’t speak English, even though they could speak English, they prefer to use their own languages than English. So that’s why all of the International participant must put the interpreter kit on their ear.

The forum was continued by project presentation from selected school from Asia region, this forum held till 17.30 pm. We had 30 minutes to make up ourselves. At 18.00 we started the welcoming dinner and cultural night. We divide into many groups based on the dinner table. We introduced ourselves once more to our tablemates. Cultural Night held after dinner, every country had a chance to perform their traditional song, dance, and others. Then it was the time of Indonesian Performance. We introduced Batik as the UNESCO World Heritage from Indonesia, so other participants know that batik is originate from Indonesia not others. Then I was performing Silek Minang accompanied with Talempong music to the audience. During the performance, Saara, the teacher from Al Azhar give an explanation about Silek Minang. The talempong music performed by computer, I has already download the Talempong music from the Internet. They were excited to our performing. Even Ms. Tomoko, the Director of Education Division Asia Pacific Cultural Center for UNESCO Japan came to me and giving a comment “Hari, you had hidden talent, you seems so shy during this forum, but when you perform you looks like different person”. She had been watching many video about Silat, but this was the first time she watch Silat directly. This activity ends up at 21.00 pm.

4th Day (Date: October 25, 2009 | Time: 07.00 – 21.00)

This day was the day I presented the project. I was the 1st presenter. I had ready in the Meeting Hall 30 minutes before the forum started. I prepared everything. When the MC asked me to go to the podium, then I bring my computer laptop to help me in case I forgot in speech. I started the presentation with Korean language “Yoboseyo”, the meaning is “Hallo” and the entire Korean teacher were laugh at me. I wonder what caused they were laugh at me, perhaps my pronunciation was not right for them. I was trying to speak slowly with better pronunciation so the entire participants understand what I was said so they understand our project. Meanwhile the interpreter might work hard on the behind to translate what I was said into Korean. The presentation only takes 18 minutes, and then continued with Al Azhar project presentation. For 20 minute later, we had Q&A session, not many question from the audience for my presentation, there was 2 persons who asked to me. They were Dr. Sun-Kyung Lee, Professor of Department of Science Education, Cheongju National University of Education, Korea and MsUlrike Storost, Associate Expert of UNESCO ASPnet from UNESCO HQ Paris. Dr. Sun-Kyung Lee asked me to explain the other aspects besides the students do planting and Ms Ulrike Storost asked me to explain the continuing program in Mt Halimun. I answered first to Dr Sun-Kyung Lee that besides doing planting, the students was live in to the local villager as their host parents. They would help their parents as their parents profession. If the parent is farmer so the student would help him/her in the farm. Then I answered Ms Ulrike’s question that we will intend to visit Mt Halimun in the next 2-3 years of PLASA Program to see how big the tree is and we intend to plant more seedlings on that area. We finished our Q&A session at 10.10 am. Then we had break. I feel free and happier after the presentation. I made it. At the time, when I speak with my Korean mate, I understand why the entire Korean participants were laugh at me, because Yoboseyo is the words that used by someone to say hello when he/she pick a phone call. But the Korean participants knew what I was mean, so they could understand it. I took the Yoboseyo word from Korean – Indonesian book that I bought in Jakarta, the book was great but I just misquoted.

After that, I continued the forum and discussion till 17.00 pm. Then we had dinner and we packed the display properties, because the next day, we had to move to the UNESCO House in Myeong Dong, Seoul. That day was the last day of us in Korean UNESCO Peace Center, Icheon.

5th Day (Date : October 26, 2009 | Time: 07.00 – 21.00)

After breakfast, we moved by the bus to Royal Hotel, Myeongdong, Seoul. We arrived early and faster than the schedule and the hotel management now allowed us to check in and put our baggage into the hotel room, so we let the hotel management keep our baggage while we move out to the UNESCO House near the hotel. It is 5 minute walk from the hotel to UNESCO House.

As we get there, we started the new agenda. The first agenda that day was dialogue about Past and Current ASPnet Partnership Activities in the Region by Korean National Commission for UNESCO, Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO, and UNESCO Bangkok. Then we had a lunch in Saffron the Pakistani Restaurant, still near from the UNESCO House.

At 13.00 pm, our next agenda was talking about On-going ASPnet Regional Partnership Project with Ms. Sigrid, the ASPnet International Coordinator, as the moderator. Then it continued with Open Discussion (Brainstorming): Development of Asia-Pacific ASPnet Partnership Project, we initiated the Asian RICE (Regional Initiative for Climate change Education) as our partnership project between ASPnet schools. We finished our discussion at 15.00 pm. Then we returned to the hotel, and finally we had our hotel room and also free time.

Then at 16.00 pm, we had a chance to saw the crowded Myeongdong, Seoul. Myeongdong is one of Seoul’s main shopping districts featuring mid to high priced retail stores and international brand outlets. It is a popular area for particularly young people as a center for fashion and nightlife. Myeongdong is also the ninth most expensive shopping street in the world in terms of floor space.

Next agenda with our Indonesian mate and Vietnamese were to found a souvenir market called Namdaemun Market, and it was located about 6 km from our hotel. This market is one of the oldest continually running markets in South Korea, and it is the largest retail mar ket in Seoul.. The streets in which the market is located were built in a time when cars were not prevalent, so the market itself is not accessible by car. The main method of transportation to and from the market is either by motorcycle or by walk. Much of the market is outside, but there are also many stores which line the streets. Many retailers buy their items, particularly clothing, at wholesale prices at Namdaemun, to resell in their own stores in other cities. Namdaemun is a popular tourist attraction, but most of the customers are Korean.

Then we get back to our hotel, but the organizer didn’t provide dinner to us, so we had to found by ourselves. It is hard to found any Halal Food on there, but the safest way to eat was to found seafood and fried rice restaurant. Fortunately, we found that restaurant near our hotel. But the ladies prefer to eat Rotiboy, and I ate twice, Rotiboy and Fried Rice.

6th Day (Date : October 27, 2009 | Time: 07.00 – 21.00)

I started the day with breakfast at 7.30 am, then I had to go to UNESCO House at 08.45 am. At nine o’ clock we started the Discussion about the Future Plan for Selected Project’s Follow-up. We agreed to initiated the Asian Rice and we had discussion in a small group to make a vision of ASPnet school. After that, we had evaluation for the entire program and closed the forum.

Now, we had spare time to go to our embassy by taxi cab.

At the embassy, we met Mr. Ahmad Mulia Karnida, Counselor at the Indonesian Embassy to give a short report what we were doing. He was appreciating our good job. I found the interesting one that the school of Mr Ahmad Mulia Karnida’s nephew is SMP Al Izhar. I came along to Korea far away from Indonesia, but I found Al Izhar’s big family over there.

After we talked to the Counselor, we returned to the Hotel, and the closing ceremony, and also farewell luncheon has officially over. So we had spare time to exploring Seoul by subway and bus. The first agenda was going to Kyobo Book Center, the s the largest and most famous book store in South Korea. It is located on Gwanghwamun-jum in Seoul. It holds the record of being the biggest book store of  the nation. Measuring in 11,900m², it is located underground, below the Kyobo Towers in Gangnam. It boasts having the “Bookmaster Dedicated Hotseats” and the automated book distribution system that was implemented the first in the world by any book store. I bought a book for Al Izhar library, the book title is All about Korea, this book very useful for the students, the teacher, or others who need some information about Korea.

Then we decided to go to Itaewon by subway. We need to know how subway is, because in Jakarta, there is no subway. So we were so excited to see subway. All the ticketing equipment were automated. It was fascinating to see the modern subway in the Asia.

Finally we arrived at Itaewon. Itaewon is the most exotic place in Seoul representing fusion culture with a distinctive atmosphere. Many people say, “You may not know Seoul, but you should know Itaewon,” were showing how renowned a shopping district Itaewon is. The Itaewon shopping area covers a 1.4 km long street, stretching from Itaewon 1-dong eastwards to Hannam 2-dong. The area has a vibrant ambience with shops, restaurants, bars and street vendors. Most signboards are written in English, and English speaking people are often seen on the street. There is a small shop that sell T shirt and other Korean handycraft that managed by Korean people who could speak Bahasa but little. You can get reasonable price here.

Many restaurants serving international dishes are found in this area including cuisine from India, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, and Mexico, foods that are not widely available in Korea. Some restaurants serve Halal food, while the Seoul Central Mosque is also located in Itaewon. We also visited the Itaewon Mosque and did Magrib and Isya Shalat. The mosque is located in hilly and Moslem area.

7th Day (Date October 28, 2009 | Time: 07.00 – 21.00)

As usually I started the day with breakfast. The day was our last day in Seoul and South Korea. Not much activity but we had to pack our baggage because the airport bus would departure at 9 o’ clock.

We were hard to say good bye to our entire Korean friends that very kindly helped us during the forum, especially to Hyoyoung Kim and Jee Hyon Kim. The bus arrived at Incheon International Airport at 10.30 am. Our plane would departure at 15.30. We had to wait for 5 hours over there. But the Internet wireless was free so we didn’t feel that the time moved so fast. The airport was very huge and luxury.

Not much story about our last day, because we lost our passion. The interesting thing when I had lunch in the Kentucky Fried Chicken booth that we had to pay chili sauce for 300 won (Rp 3000) while in Indonesia we’ve got free chili sauce and also after we had lunch, we had to pick up our plate into waste bin like I always did in Indonesia, but many Indonesian people too lazy to pick up their plate, and trash it into waste bin.

So the time has come, we had return to Jakarta, Indonesia, our city, our country, our home. We hate to say good bye.

Ya Allah the Almighty, why the time moved so fast, it seems like yesterday I performed Silat at the Cultural Night, but now, suddenly it is a week after. It is like a dream then now I had to woke up. Oh dear, I have a great moment in that country. Someday I’ll return to Korea. Amin.


Categories: Jalan-Jalan, Keliling Dunia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “A Journey to South Korea

  1. asik juga

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