And so our Korean adventure began.

One of the things that we immediately fell in love with in Korea is their food. Of course, all the fast food outlets are there like McDonald’s, KFC, and Pizza Hut. But we can eat their burgers and fried chicken at home anytime. In fact, our residence is a stone’s throw away from a KFC. In Korea, we ate nothing but Korean food. Everything from Bulgogi (Marinated Barbecued Beef) and Taktoritang (Chicken and Potato Stew) to Kimchi Bokumbap (Kimchi Fried Rice) and Kongnamul Gook (Bean Sprout Soup). We ate Korean ice cream every day, sometimes three times a day.

We fell in love as well with Seoul’s many parks, gardens, and museums. My kids loved walking through all these destinations, giving us a sense of the culture and history of Korea. For example, we went to the six-acre Biwon or the Secret Garden. Sprawling six acres inside the Changdeokgung Palace, Biwon is quite magical with its woodland paths, lotus ponds, and pleasure pavilions.

The Changdeokgung Palace itself is a marvel. Built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty, it is one of the Five Grand Palaces. We were awestruck by the fact that members of royalty actually walked the grounds that we were treading. Unfortunately, the Palace is only a semblance of its former glory; most of it was destroyed during the Japanese occupation of Korea.

The main palace is Gyeongbokgung, and at the back of the palace is the National Folk Museum, which was really nice! There were all sorts of traditional Korean costumes on display. I found them so beautiful that I was wondering how to take one home.

Of course, we couldn’t visit Seoul without seeing the Seoul Tower. The tower really feels like it is soaring up to the heavens in pretty much the same way that the Korean economy has soared in the past years.

Going through all those magnificent spaces, how I wish that Manila could have such beautiful open parks and gardens as well. Though my children love their games and gadgets, they always welcome the opportunity to get out of doors, enjoy the fresh air, and smell the flowers. I am sure that if we had more parks in Manila like those that we enjoyed so much in Korea, more children would be up and about playing outdoors.