As camping is getting more and more popular these days in South Korea especially among young people, going camping has been one of the things on my must-do list before I leave.
After looking up online for a while, I chose Glamping Club Lespia as our campsite because 1) we were not planning to buy all the camping stuffs just for one trip, 2) it is a chain campsite that has many different locations in multiple cities, and 3) the amenities and services they provide look nice from the pictures on their website and Naver. The reservation process was a real struggle because none of us has a Korean bank card. We called several times and tried several cards, and in the end, I made the payment in RMB with a UnionPay debit card issued in China.
On the glamping day, we first went to the Hyundai Department Store and E-Mart in Sinchon to buy the groceries: marshmallows and chocolate and crackers for making smores, vegetables, drinks, etc. After having a simple lunch, we departed from Sinchon to the campsite in Namyangju. The taxi ride took 2 hours due to the traffic jam and cost KRW61,500. We arrived before 4:00pm.
When we did the check-in, we bought the barbeque and charcoal set, more groceries, and the floor heating service. We assumed that meat was included in the set but actually it was not. We did not buy any meat, so I had to communicate with the manager who speaks zero English by applying what I learned from the KLI class: 고기를 사고 싶어요... ('want to buy some meat'). That's probably not the correct way to say, but I tried my best hahaha. He generously sold us a plate of pork for KRW11,000 as he took it out from the fridge in their private room.
We started the charcoal around 5:00pm, and it took us a while to figure out how to set the fire from charcoal correctly (big shout out to Landis!). It was a busy hour: washing the cooking utensils, grilling the food, doing the table layout. Although the food was not enough and did not taste amazing, it was still great teamwork. After cleaning up, we sat around the brazier, drinking, snacking, listening to music, playing games, having nice talks... and just feeling the camping vibes I previously only saw in the TV shows.
Around 11:30pm, a guy from the tent across to ours came over and asked for borrowing a piece of the fire starter wood. I went over and gave it to him, and surprisingly, he came back 10mins later with a bag of snacks and burned marshmallows. I debated for a few minutes but eventually decided to go to their tent and take a group picture with them. Then we started to talk and followed each other on iG. They warmly invited us to drink and eat with them in their tent, where I had more meat and more drinks hahaha. I stayed with them till 2:00am. Even though we were communicating by my broken Korean and their broken English, it was great fun and definitely a wonderful opportunity to practice my Korean language abilities and to have a peek into the youth culture of the locals.
I learned that practicing escapism is one of the sociocultural implications for the growing popularity of camping especially among young people who live and work in Seoul. By escaping from the city to the countryside during the weekends or holidays, people can obtain inner peace and quality time with friends is ensured. It was my first time glamping, which was not perfect but a memorable and valuable experience for future glamping or real camping, as well as an actual personal experience of what I have learned academically about the trending culture in South Korea.