Autumn is arriving. The lush greenery of summer has given way to the tints of autumn. Although the best dates to admire the autumn foliage is always clashing with the mid-terms, it is no doubt one of the most beautiful season in South Korea. Many outdoor activities such as hiking, picnic, visiting an amusement park, are gaining popularity as the skies of autumn wear a deeper blue each day.
One of the best activities to carry out during the season, in my opinion, is “Glamping”. If you haven’t heard of the word “Glamping”, it is a shorthand for “Glamorous Camping”, a global trend that has tapped into the Land of Morning Calm in recent years. Mixing up the word “Glamorous” and “Camping”, Glamping is an idea of providing luxurious “tents” in the remote areas of the country, aiming to cater campers with comforts and convenience without giving up on civilization. Just bring your food, drinks and clothing and leave the rest (utensils, camping essentials, tent and etc.) to the glampsite owner! How convenient? : ))
I spent an amazing weekend glamping at Gapyeong. My friend booked a tent at the Gapyeong Serapim Glampsite 가평 세라핌 글램핑, which is about an hour’s drive away from Seoul. We purchased some fresh ingredients for our BBQ dinner at a market near my friend’s place before heading to the glampsite. Just in case you do not have the luxury of time to do your grocery, you can request the glampsite people to prepare your BBQ dinner, which usually includes pork belly, sausages, mushrooms, garlic, sweet potatoes and lettuce – Your typical Korean campsite staple. Cool enough, yeah?
This is what greeted us when we arrived at the glampsite. A row of sturdy, lavish tents tucked away next to a stream overlooking an impressive autumn landscape. The tent itself was installed with wooden flooring and Ondol (Korean underfloor heating system) at the bedroom area. Everything looks clean and new.
The tent consists a pantry and dining area on a wooden deck, dressing room and a bedroom-cum-living-room area with a queen sized bed. (A bed in a tent!) The size of the tent comfortably fits three adults, and I think it would fit a family with two kids or two adult couples perfectly. The sleeping area is completely screened to keep mosquitoes out. Additional boilers and heater fan are prepared for the colder days. It is not the most luxurious glampsite I encounter, but it is certainly very well equipped.
The pantry was equipped with a mini-fridge, a stove, cutlery, pots and pans and even a water boiler — everything you’ll need to whip up a sumptuous Korean campsite meals such as Budae Jjigae (Army Stew), a hot bowl of Ramen and Oden Soup. The army stew and Oden soup are the two classic campsite dishes, which is semi-instant, delicious and of course, very easy to prepare.
We decided to make Army Stew for the first meal of the day. It is one of the easiest South Korean dishes to make. Just get an army stew stock from any supermarket, put in all the ingredients and voila! One of my go-to brand for Budae-Jjigae aka army stew stock is from Baek Sul (백설 다담 부대 찌개양념). It is my personal favourite when it comes to army stew stock. I find the rest of the brands either too sweet or less spicy. Baek Sul is the only brand that provides an authentic taste of a good army stew. It is hot and spicy, yet at the same time, full of nutty flavour — This description might sound weird to you. However, in the Korean expression for such flavour, you’ll often come across with this phrase — “얼큰 하면서 고소함”
There is no exact translation of 고소하다 (go-soo-ha-da) in English. It is usually translated into a the flavour of sesame oil or nutty flavour, but it can be used to describe dishes like army stew as well. It could only roughly be translated to “rich and velvety” in describing go-soo-ha-da for army stew. Anyway, if you ask for a recommendation, I would say go for Baek Sul’s.
Ingredients to make Army Stew:
-Baeksul’s Army stew stock 1 pack
– 1/2 can of SPAM, cut into smaller pieces
– a few sausages, cut into pieces
– a handful of mushrooms
– 1/4 onion
– cloves of minced garlic (optional)
– 1/4 cup of Kimchi
– 1/2 box of tofu
– some Korean rice cakes (ddeokbokki, 7-8 pieces, optional)
– small bowl of sweetcorn removed from cob (or get the tinned sweetcorn)
– a piece or two cheese
– a packet of ramen
Add the stock paste to the pot. Then use the empty Baek Sul stock packet to measure 3 packets of water (300cc), pour them into the pot and cook. Notice there’s a marker at the back of the stock packet “◄100 cc x 3회►“, use that to gauge.
When the stock is boiling, add all the ingredients (except scallions, ramen, and cheese) into the pot. Then, add the ramen and scallions when everything is almost ready. Lastly, add the cheese before you serve!
We toured around the glampsite after the meal and discovered a shower room, a dish-washing station, a general office that sells campfire logs, snacks, instant noodles, drinks and even frozen pork belly. At about 630pm, the person-in-charge came to set up the campfire and the BBQ pit.
The night falls, and the BBQ party begins. We brought some of the finest pork neck meat, beef, sausages and fish to grill and washed them down with beer. Good food, the right music and great companion — one of the best moments of the night indeed.
After the BBQ, my friends prepared some sweet potatoes and threw them into the campfire pit. While waiting for the sweet potatoes to be cooked, we sat down near the campfire chit-chatting, and finished up another round of beer. Before tucking in the sweet potatoes, my friend whipped up some Rösti, and again we washed them down with some fruits, then back to drinking, again! (This is South Korea, after all!)
The temperature falls to single digit as the night grows late. We brought out the electric blankets and heater fan for extra comfort. By the time we decided to go to sleep, the bedroom was in a nice, warm and fuzzy temperature. We woke up to a misty mountain view the next morning and prepared the typical Korean fare of camping food — Ramen and Oden soup for breakfast.
After the check-out, we visited the nearby Yumyeongsan Mountain Natural Recreation Forest (국립 유명산 자연 휴양림) which is famous for its autumn foliage. If you really want to experience South Korea’s awe-inspiring natural beauty, Yumyeongsan Mountain natural recreation forest is definitely an ideal location. You can even check out Petite France on your way back to Seoul!
Writer’s Note: If you love camping out but always feel intimidated by the preparation work and the clean-up thereafter, glamping is what you should give a try. Just bring your own clothing and leave all the other preparations (tent, utensils, sleeping bags etc.) to the glampsite people and you are all set for a fuss-free, fun and comfortable time with nature. For those who want a memorable South Korean experience, Glamping in Korea is not to be missed. It gives you a chance to peek into the local lifestyle in a Korean countryside setting, yet at the same time, enjoying the service similar to a hotel.
Serapim Glamping 세라핌 글램핑
경기 가평군 설악면 묵안로 626-17
Gyeonggi-do, Gapyeong-gun, Seolrak-myeon, Mukan-ro. 626-17.
Check in: 2pm
Check out: 11am
There are many different glampsites around the country. But not all are English-friendly. Non-Korean speakers may check out Glamping.com (click me) for fuss-free booking. However, you’ll need to get there by yourselves. For those who speak/read Korean, you may check out Korea Glamping (click me) , which offers a greater array of choices in the country.
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