During my participation in Jakarta Sister City program in Seoul, South Korea, we—as participants—were lucky enough to had the chance to live with a local host family in Incheon, South Korea. This kind of local experience can make your travels more valuable than just becoming a tourist, as you can really learn the local culture directly, exchange authentic stories, and learn new stuff you never thought you need to know. In short, you can see the place in a richer story and perspective.
Here are my top highlights that I got to experience during my stay, thanks to the warmth of my host family in Incheon!
Trying out Hanbok Dress
Hanbok is known as the traditional Korean dress that comes with a lot of types. They said that through Hanbok, people can tell about the wearer’s job, social statuses, education background, or even whether he or she is married or not. Our Omuni (Read: Mom in Korean) lend us her and her daughter’s Hanbok for us to wear.
In our case, Mila—my homestay partner—wore the one that was actually dedicated for married woman and I was given the one for kids! Talk about looking more suited as a child.
Korean Family Dinner
The family arranged a special dinner for us just after our Abuji (Read: Father in Korean) came home from work. Our Korean family were not really fluent in English. But even though we’ve had this language barrier, we can still feel the hospitality and connection with our Korean family. Besides eating (of course), we’ve spent the night exchanging stories about our country (Indonesia) and Korean culture.
We mentioned our interests for Korean culture, from the places she wants to travel to, K-Pop music that are famous in our country, until Mila mentioned hearing about a famous Spa place, called Jjimjilbang. She called it lightly, without actually expecting for us to have the chance to go there. But suddenly our Korean parents shared an obvious glare towards each other, and insisted taking us there to at least experience it ourselves after dinner!
We went to Jjimjilbang with the whole family—both of our host parents and the children. This Jjimjilbang is actually unique since it opens for 24 hours, and it’s not a weird thing if you find people staying overnight there!
Don’t forget to try out wearing your towel and fold it like a Jjimjilbang Head Towel (Korean Lamb Head Towel).
We stayed at our Korean family’s apartment in Incheon. Our Omuni was kind enough to do a short introduction by taught
Fall Season Vibes in Bakersfield Park
We felt lucky enough to come to Korea during fall season because it has such beautiful scenery. Hence, going to parks during fall season is the must! We visited Bakersfield Park in Incheon, and there was not many people here so it’s perfect for even just walking with friends, family or even coming alone to sit back and relax, read books or finding a decent spot to get creative.
Mini Hanok Village
This one is Incheon’s mini version of the original Hanok Village located in Seoul. There are some activities you can do here, like sightseeing the beautiful architecture of mini Hanok houses and see mini museum displays, have fun in the playground, or play traditional Korean games (I honestly learned a lot of new local Korean games that I never heard of before!). It’s actually a perfect place for families to have a quality time together.
Must go Shopping Spot: Bupyeong Underground Shopping Mall
This is a place that not many tourists know yet. If you’re a shopaholic, Bupyeong Underground Shopping Mall is the place for you. This mall is famous due to its huge variety of items and cheaper prices even when compared to other underground shopping malls. It sells items from A – Z in fashion. Let it be everything Korean fashion, cosmetics, snacks and even souvenirs. Be prepared to use comfortable shoes as this mall is very huge since it has more than 1,400 stores.
The best part is that, our Omuni helped us bargain the price. It’s always good to travel with local people! We couldn’t help but coming out from the mall smiling!
Operating Hours: 10:00am to 10:00pm. Closed on Tuesdays.
Directions: Take the Seoul Subway to Bupyeong Station (Line 1, Incheon 1).
Don’t forget to go out for a walk and eat delicious Korean food.
Again, I recommend you to feel the experience of living of a local here in South Korea. Reach me out in firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know how to join the homestay program that arrange the ones during my program 🙂