Hapcheon, the Small, Sleepy Town where for a Split Second I thought I met a Bad Guy…..

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Watching CSI drama series and reading serial killer books, I always look at their story as a 3rd party, blaming the victim for believing strangers. But I never put myself in the story. Opsss….nothing happen to me, Alhamdulillah. But maybe next time I should think more and always remind myself that I might be the victim.

Travelling solo in South Korea, I always grateful that till now I was blessed to meet nice and good people. Maybe because I become familiar with South Korea or I never meet bad people there,  i tend to feel safe and comfortable travelling alone or asked people for help. But one accident, for a moment gives me a doubt or at least installed a reminder to me that I should be more cautious in believing stranger.

It was an early morning when I left Jinju city to Hapcheon, neighbouring town. I took a bus cost me around 7,000 won and travelled almost an hour with mostly elderly peoples to Hapcheon with my one an only place in mind, Hapcheon Image Theme Park. This theme park is the largest drama & movie set in Korea where famous drama and movie such as Into the Fire, East of Eden, Gaksital and many more used to be filmed here. From the Hapcheon bus station, I took a taxi to the theme park that cost me around 15,000 won (expensive!!!) and almost 20 minutes rides. Hapcheon is a small town, sleepy and quite. So, I’m not surprised that other tourist recommended taking taxi instead of bus coz you will never know when you can get one.

Arrived after a long chat with the taxi driver, paid the entrance fee for 3,000 won if I’m not mistaken i found myself hesitating either to go right or left to start the tour. And I heard a guy voice advising me to go left first in English. I turned around and a Korean guy wearing tracksuit with sleepy face smiling at me and not long after that we somehow ended up touring the whole theme park together.

Having watched some of the dramas and movies filming here, I quickly matched up the drama and movie scene with the building, road, view at the theme park while touring. “Oh, this is where Gaksital saved his girlfriend, this is where Gaksital jumped from the bridge and fight” . My new tour buddy will add some info from the movie and drama that I didn’t watched and 1 hour passed by without we realized. “I don’t know how you come to know this place and have an idea to come here coz even myself, I wouldn’t be here if I don’t have some business to do in Hapcheon” my tour buddy keep repeating that to me. “ Man, I wouldn’t be here if this place not open and been promoting in your tourism website” But I just smile instead of answering like that coz I understand for locals they can’t imagine why a tourist would like to go to a place that locals find it nothing.

Walking out from the theme park, I started figuring out on how I can return back to the bus station. 1. I have to go to the ticket counter and asked the staff to call a taxi but another 15,000 won …emhhhhh 2. Cross the street and wait for a bus and waiting and waiting in the cold winter. And I just say yes for the 3rd option offered by my tour buddy who is willing to send me to the bus station by his car. Upon entering his car and the car start moving, I can’t help asking myself If …if my tour buddy happen to be a serial killer, a psycho, a thief, a bad guy. If anything happen to me, I don’t think I can get any help. I was regretted choosing this option without a long thought. OMG, please help me …. Please..Please ….let my tour buddy be a normal person, a kind person who just want to help a friend.  Panic button was hit!!!

My Tour Buddy “What are you planning to do after this? I think I want to grab a lunch before I leave to Seoul”.

Me “aaaaa…..i have to travel back to Jinju coz not many bus going there from here”

My Tour Buddy “ I see but I can only drive you to Hapcheon bus station”

Me (Thank God) “Its ok. Bus station is good enough” fuhhhhhhh

While waiting for a bus back to Jinju, I keep thanking God for sending  another good guy to me. But thinking that possibilities he can be the opposite freaking me out. And I prayed hard that in the future too, God will send me only good people along my way.  Soon, riding the bus full with elderly people and watching the driver who without any complain and will stop whenever the elder asked him to stop without ringing the bell or at designated bus stand, I smiled …. Somehow this world still has good human being.

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Priceless Experiance : WWooFing at TURWOOL, Gyeongsangnamdo

My first experience, their first experience too. Both of us (Host and WWOOFer) are new to this program. I was worried but excited. From the forum wrote by other wwoofers, good things and bad things did happen. To be at unknown place and meet unknown people, i’m glad that my sister, Nor was with me.

We travelled for more than 4 hours by express bus to southern part of South Korea due to New Year long holiday’s traffic jam. We arrived at Geochang Terminal Bus around 9.30 pm and hurriedly i gave a call to our Host. Around 20 minutes later, our host arrived, a women around 45 years old. Our place to stay not that far from Terminal Bus (around 20 – 30 minutes walking). We left our bag in a small Hanok house and again been brought to another house belong to another host. Hahaha ..From the conversation over supper, i got to know that my host is not 1 person or a family but consist of 6 families together under a group call TURWOOL. They called each other by nickname, no real name and i don’t need to use respect term who a younger person or stranger like me should use to address other people which a big NO in Korean society. hahaha .. i still recalled how nervous i am trying to address them just by their name.

Winter when most of people is in hibernating mode especially for farmer, nothing much we done for 7 days staying there. But i learned a lot appreciating time without the buzzling life at big city, without tv, without internet connection. Our routine everyday will be woke up early, walking around 5 – 10 minutes to one of our host second house aka workplace. Having breakfast, helping our host with her chores, lunch, back to our place and touring the village or sometimes went to the town. As our stay fall during festive celebration aka Seollal or in Malaysia, Chinese New Year, we experienced how local celebrate it. Starting with rice cake soup as breakfast, greeting the elders (bow), together with one of the host family to watch movie, we spent the holiday like local did.

The other things that i cannot forget is the experience of managing ondol system using charcoal in a very traditional way and manually. Even my younger korean friends impressed with that coz it’s hardly been used nowadays. Find out more about ONDOL.

Only on the last day, when the weather much more warmer, we managed to work at the farm by cleaning out the previous left over harvest and prepare the land for spring. And at night with 2 of our hosts, we watched an old German movie at Geochang Community Centre.

Even i had not experienced farming activity here, but I enjoying a slow life Geochang offered me. And time spending with my hosts was a memorable one. I’m not sure how Sangi the poet, Param the painter, Yonggam the academician, Hasim and his Pansoori husband and others whom I didn’t had a chance to meet got together at Geochang, But they are here now, to achieve their dreams to be involved with nature and away from busy life at big city. We bid goodbye on the day snow slowly falling at Geochang with a promised to be back when their hotel project finish in 3 years time. Till then, Thank you TURWOOL!!!

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