We started our journey in Japan’s fruit paradise Prefecture, Yamanashi, known for its mountainous community, with Mt. Fuji rising above all of them. Now, we’ve had the amazing experience of not only running one of Koreas booming guesthouse branches, Kimchee Guesthouse, but building it from the ground up; literally. Here’s a post that not only sums up our time at the kimchee guesthouse, but a funny experience we had when we first arrived.
It had come time for us to make our next move–Korea, and with most travelers, Seoul would of been first on the list. Instead, we decided to fly straight into the beach city of Busan. As the plane landed, our eagerness to explore settled in. Upon arrival we did our routine walk through the airport; excitement in the air of a new country, we found our way to the subway stop.
A quick side note on Busan’s subway system: This is by far the easiest city I’ve ever had to navigate due to its subway system. It’s simple, timely, and pretty affordable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the biggest city in the world so an elaborate system isn’t needed, but still, for what it is I was pretty surprised. You won’t have any issues getting around this city.
On to my schpeal…
At this point, finally making it to the country of our next work-for-stay, directions had been mapped and we were well on our way. Messages here and there with our host through Kakao talk, Korea’s preferred messaging app (I would highly recommend this app if you come to Korea. Plus, it has the best emojis a messaging app can have), had me wondering who I was actually talking to, and will eventually be working with.
We had made it to our stop and the thick humid air embraced our steps out of the subway station. From the directions given, it wasn’t far, no more than a few blocks from Seomyeon station. Weaving through small streets and alleyways, there it was. Nestled in a cluster of love motels sat a quaint, dilapidated, and still under construction building.
“This couldn’t have been the place…right?”
Now, we’re always up for a challenge, especially if we can get a free stay out of it, but the description from the HelpX profile of what we’d be doing gave me the impression that the guesthouse was already up and running. So to see an abandoned building took me by surprise. Paranoia massaged my temples. I couldn’t help but think we were going to be robbed. Too many movies?…Possibly. I gave my head a quick shake to dissolve my unnecessary thoughts–“We’re just at the wrong place, no big deal.”
Just a short walk away, we made ourselves to a 7-11. After a few unanswered calls, a sudden message reply back, “I’ll be there soon,” had me rest-assured of our worries. And just like that, he had arrived. The mystery man we’d all been waiting for. We quickly introduced ourselves and with no time to be wasted we were officially on our way.
As Scott walked ahead leading the way, a quick everything-will-be-alright-after-all smile made way to Laurie. And within the same amount of time it took us to get to the 7-11, we made our way to where we’ll be “living” the next few weeks…at the same…exact…location. The salty Busan air had gotten a little thicker as we once again approached what we had initially thought was the wrong place due to its condition. A step over the caution tape, through the entrance, and we’d made our way to the elevator. A slow silent wait as we reached the top floor.
As we exited the elevator doors and entered the top floor, we were greeted with a 5 month old shiba, SanE, who eased the tension. Probably one of the cutest dogs you’ll ever meet, but within the same amount of time cuteness fluttered the air, defense-mode kicked in once again as two other gentlemen came in to greet us, Shaun and Robert.
And again, being the paranoid boyfriend that was going to do everything to prevent harms way, made sure we slept with a chair rigged under the door knob from inside our room, and a metal pipe I had obtained from disassembling the clothing rack that came with our room…call me crazy, I know. But I just wanted to be on the safe side (maybe a little too safe).
Sorry everyone! Unfortunately we don’t have many photos of the hostel, especially in it’s pre-opened state. So, instead, I’m gonna post some pictures of places that we checked out while in Busan to hopefully coaxed you into coming :).
Despite my over the top antics and how the first half of this post probably had you thinking we had all of our stuff stolen, we ended up having a memorable time helping out at the Kimchee guest house, and still remain in contact now having moved on from what was our temporary home. It was a privilege to have not only worked at the guesthouse but to see it grow and eventually have its opening day! From the first few days of moving in furniture and Laurie’s relentless recruiting efforts for more volunteers since there was so much work to be done, to seeing the doors finally open, greeting guests, and having an experience never to be forgotten.
And maybe the best part about our work-for-stay was of course, the volunteers we worked with. There seems to be a trend to this whole traveling thing. Whether on this trip, past travels Laurie and I had done before, or even others experiences, there’s something I can’t help but notice…For the amount of countries you’ve been to, cities you’ve slept in, or sites you’ve checked out, the amount of experiences you come across with others can be just as impactful, if not–life changing. And this goes for the better or for the worse. There’ll be people you come across that you could care less never setting eyes on again, and there’ll be others who were a privilege to cross paths with. In the end, it’s still an experience; a story that you’ll never forget. The beauty of it is that you don’t have to be lucky for them to still be apart of your life today. That’s what the volunteers at the Kimchee Guesthouse were, and still are. An experience never to be forgot and to always be shared with.
Scott, our mysterious robber-man, along with his side-kick/son, SanE, couldn’t of been a better host. Not to mention Shaun, the manager at the locations in Seoul. These guys had a dream, and they certainly fulfilled it. It couldn’t of been more satisfying to work along side these people into the late hours, and end it off with rounds of Soju sharing stories of their past travels with our current ones. This intermingling bond became dense within the short month of our stay.
And of course, since helping establish one of Korea’s coolest guesthouse in Busan, I gotta do a shoutout. This place is awesome! If you ever get a chance to explore Busan, do yourself a favor and stay at the Kimchee Guesthouse. When bidding our farewells from the guesthouse, I was a bit baffled as to find out all the rooms were already filling-in only within weeks of opening–but there’s definitely a reason why. It’s accommodating, the location can’t get any better, you’ll get to hangout with SanE, and it’s cheap! It won’t be anything less of a good time, and if you happen to run into Scott, tell him that Mustard and Mayo sends our love 🙂
An experience we’ll never forget. Having thought we were in some serious trouble upon arriving to ending our stay and feeling as if we were parting from a family…Here’s to Scott, Shaun, SanE, and the whole Kimchee crew.
Save us a room when we come back 😉