Friday, June 8, 2012

A Glance of Doo Guesthouse

Bicycle ride from Doo Guesthouse

I knew the moment I strolled down the Bukchon neighborhood back in the wintry 2009, it won't be my last time there. Every corners and sights bring such delight and tranquillity, like walking in a 600 years old time capsule back in the ancient Joseon Dynasty. 

Finally my Seoul chapter re-opens back again this Summer and I immediately searched high and low for the best Hanok stay in Bukchon. Doo Guesthouse had me at "anyeong haseyo" with such great reviews from international visitors for its location, good value, staff and facilities. 

Also, if you're an artists, writers or musicians, you will get to enjoy a complimentary night on your 5th stay! Glad the members in my family are artists, so with 6 nights to spend, we only spent 100,000 won per night versus to the original cost at 120,000 won per night (total costs for 4 person). In return, we have to produce a work of art, preferably our own interpretation/drawing of Hanok. That's RM67 per person/night (Malaysian calculation). Below are the comparison costs for staying in traditional guesthouse (Doo Guesthouse) versus to staying in a non traditional guesthouse/hostel:

Cost for 4 person in traditional guesthouse (Doo Guesthouse):
120,000 (promotion price of 5th night free is 96,000)
RM 268 for 4 person/ RM 67 per person

Costs for 4 person in non traditional guesthouse aka hostel:
88,000 - 90,000 krw
RM 240 for 4 person/ RM 60 per person

Our personalized Korean room keychain

Speaking of locks, here's another ancient way of locking the door in Hanoks - 
using a metal spoon!

Traditional Korean way of living
After some visit at Changdeokgung palace and Bukchon Hanok Village, you will get some understanding on the history as well as the architectural values and structures of Korean traditional houses. No nails were used to assemble the woods - the same with Malaysian traditional kampung (tanggam technique).

Dad sketch-demonstrating how the wood assembly works

 It's a bird, it's a rain gutter!

Our family room called Doo-Ma. Each room has its own name.

Summer flowers outside Doo Guesthouse

Mom doing what she loves the most - sketching flowers

Sleep quality
The mattress and pillows takes awhile to get used to, but all of us (my parents and two young adults) seems to adjusts to the feel on our 2nd night with no problem. If you're not used to thin mattress, there are another layer of mattress provided for newbies (yours truly). The wheat husk pillow is the most interesting to sleep on, with its beady-like texture which is reminds me a lot of a gigantic batu seremban (a Malaysian traditional game), haha. Very unusual from what we are used to, but its definitely an experience worth trying.

Quiet environment
Though every doors and windows and even the wall surface are covered with rice paper, it proves to be durable, wind and water resistant. Ergo, due to this material just like Japanese traditional house (ryokan) you will probably hear some movement from the next door neighbor. Being our chatty nature, we have to keep reminding ourselves to be a bit quiet, hehe!

So simply said, sleeping in traditional Korean house is not for everyone. But for us, waking up to sweet sound of birds, spectacular view outside the window, walking down to nearby local cafes and restaurants and rubbing shoulders with friendly ajummas and ajussi made our stay in Seoul more meaningful. Add that with Changdeokgung palace, Insadong and many cultural visits just a walking distance, it simply a wonderful privilege staying in Doo Guesthouse.

Take it from a person who never stayed in a Hanok on first visit...You never been to Korea if you have not stayed in a Hanok.

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