Can’t believe it’s already been a month since I went to Seoul. And I also can’t believe that I have not made a blog post about how it all went. Perhaps everyone seems to be already contended with my albums in Facebook?

Anyway as promised over Twitter, I will be making a series of blog posts for each day I spent in Korea. But before all that, let me start of first by making sort-of a timeline of the events that led to my visit there…



Sometime in November: It was a random night (so random, that I can’t remember the date and exact day it happened) and I just got home after finishing my work shift. I went straight to bed wishing that I would get more sleep that night, but being Irwin Oroceo, I was just lying there in bed before sleep for more than hour thinking about a lot of things. One of which is when I remembered chatting with Karen about visiting South Korea.

Then I had a thought: “How would she react if I made a surprise visit to her?”

From there it all started to come together; “Her birthday is February, so that means it’s winter time… which is the season that I have dreamed of experiencing. Moreover, I want to try visiting a country that requires a visa. Maybe, I wanted to experience the thrill and excitement of applying for one.”

Lots of things went into my mind, thinking about different scenarios and asking myself more questions:


“Will I be able to pull it off? Will I be able to save enough money going there? I wonder how snow would feel on my hands. It’ll sure be nice to finally put on winter gears! What if my visa application gets rejected? If I do get approved, where are we going to go? I wonder what her school really looks like. Will I be able to meet her foreign and Korean friends?”


“Man… I must really miss her that  much to think about these things”.


Days passed on, still going back and forth about those thoughts. I must be real crazy mofo just if I will be able to pull off such a stint. But then, one more question went into my mind:


“Should I be doing this?”


It’s a pretty embarrassing question that I know I shouldn’t be asking because for me it sounds that I’m forced to do this. To be really honest, I really wanted to visit her, but I had second thoughts about doing this. Miss her? There’s YM and Skype and Facebook to talk with her. Hey, calling her via phone is already a crazy plan, what more if I tried visiting her? I wanted to do it, but I felt I needed one more motivation to do so…

A few days later, I found my answer. I got a notification from Facebook saying that she made this post on my wall:


“Paship ng Pancit Canton dito. Yung express!”


Yes, as crazy at it seems, that was the new motivation. The one that triggered me to say, “Okay, I really need to do this.” During those times, I felt from our chats that all the lab work seem to be tiring her, and perhaps the thought of having something as simple as pancit canton, a taste of food from home would be something that can make her feel better.


December: This was the time I started going around online forums and checking different websites on how to apply for visa. I was able also to completely gather the requirements: certificate of employment, bank certificate, the application form itself, etc.

Speaking of the bank certificate, the 13th month bonus was such a great help in making my certificate even look better. No problems also since I used it as part of my budget for the trip anyway.

Again, I had some lingering thoughts about my application, about the what-if’s of being approved or not. I stopped thinking about it for a while, thinking that ‘If I got approved, then it would be great. But if I don’t get approved, it’s okay since I will be able to use the money I saved for something else”. But in reality, I got scared from the thought of not being approved.

I submitted my application after Christmas, and I had to wait until January 3 for the release. Between those dates, I started to pray really hard that I would get approved. The last time I prayed this hard is when my dad got hospitalized.

It is also worth noting that I did not yet bought any winter gears or booked any flight and accommodations because I wanted to make sure first that my visa gets approved first.


January: After finishing my first day of work for 2011, I hurried out of the office and went straight to the Korean embassy to pick up my passport back.  I went to Window 1 and received my passport from the ajumma behind the window.  I then took a seat on the waiting area, opened my passport, and much to my delight… a Korean visa attached on one page.

The first words that came out of my mouth was “It’s on!”.

From here on I started to do the rest of the things I needed to do:  Get a reservation on Bebop Guesthouse (Hongdae area though, but it was the guesthouse that was suggested to me in the forums), book a non-promo roundtrip flight (which was painful to my credit card hehe), and buy winter clothes.

Speaking of which, it was one of the reasons why I wanted to go to Baguio: Knowing that they have a cold temperature, I wanted to pay the ukay-ukays a visit to see what I can be of help to me in my first ever winter season. Sure enough, that’s what my officemates and I did on the first weekend of 2011.


February, days before the flight: Keeping secrets is not easy, especially on the person that you are supposed to surprise.  So when she mentioned that she was going to go on a skiing trip from February 14 (the day of her birthday) to 16, I panicked a bit. Of course I did not want to force her to not join that, so I had to do something to make sure she stays on the 15th.

So a few days later, I told her that I’ll be sending her pancit cantons via FedEx. I also realized that it was a cunning way of asking her exact address in Ewha University, so I thought that this delivery-thing was a great idea without her giving a hint that I will be coming there.

I did get her address, and the rest will be discussed on my next post…