Guest House Sa Rang Chae

Our visit to Gyeongju was pretty much perfect but it may not have been without the Sa Rang Chae guesthouse.  It was recommended by all of the travel books and blogs that we read but none of the descriptions really do it justice.

DSCF3266 copyFirst, to book a room (you must do so in advance) you are required to fill out a brief questionnaire.  This was not very clear initially and it took a few emails to a few different email addresses until I got it right.  Here is the link: http://www.kjstay.com/content_eng/iboard.cgi. Note that about 50% of the time that I clicked on the link it appeared that the site was down.  It isn’t.  Try again.  There are two email addresses, I would send your request to both: shilla7@chol.com and kjstay@korea.com.  On the website there is a questionnaire for “advanced booking” – fill that out and enter the all of the info in the email.

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They provided pretty specific directions on their website but we still got lost trying to find it.  We were stopped on a street corner with maps out and suitcases on our backs when a sweet elderly man who spoke no English looked at our map and pointed us in the right direction.  We were just a few feet away.

You walk into a front courtyard, through big wooden doors with small, laminated signs on the door that probably gave some sort of helpful information, but the signs were in Korean so I can’t say for sure.  The innkeeper greeted us immediately and mentioned that our room was being set up.  The inn is a series of small rooms surrounding a courtyard.  It is a hanok, a traditional Korean style building.  He walked us to the kitchen through the inner courtyard.  The courtyard was just perfect: a dusty, rocky, gravel floor with a variety of trees, flowers, tools, wheels, chairs, a fire pit, picnic tables, and two dogs: Chocolate and Candy.  The kitchen had several seating areas including two large dining tables and one small table.  There was a pile of toiletries on the counter that you were welcome to use, a crate filled with hair dryers, and a sign on the wall indicating that if you needed a towel, just ask.

sarang panorama

There were lots of signs on the wall providing useful information: maps, bus schedules, Chinese restaurant delivery menu translated into English (just ask, they will order for you), the hot water schedule (only available between 6-11am and 6-11pm, but if you want hot water at other times, just ask), and the house rules (check in time, check out time and breakfast time).

 The innkeeper asked of we had a map, we did because we picked one up at the train station but he had extras had we needed one, and then proceeded to draw all of the information that we needed on our map.  Bus routes and schedules, times that the top sights were open, big stores, small stores, and even his favorite restaurant.  He jotted this precise information in red pen on our green map as if he had done this a thousand times before.  He probably had.  All of the information was incredibly handy and made getting around and seeing all of the sights a breeze. breakfast

 Right after we gave us the run down with the map our room was ready.  The room was about 8×8 feet with a bathroom en-suite.  The bed was a blanket on the floor.  The floor was heated but only in the area below the blanket.  We had one blanket to cover ourselves and two pillows.  There was nothing else in the room except for a small hutch and a huge flat screen TV, bathroom slippers, and regular slippers.  The bathroom was the same as we have experienced in each accommodation in Korea, this one was maybe a bit smaller. It is a “wet room” in that the toilet and shower are in the same space.  The shower is a hand held nozzle that you use as you squat down on the shower stool.  The bathroom was about 2×3 feet, maybe.  The bed was actually very comfortable and we had some of the best sleep since arriving in Korea.  Maybe it was that the first night we had been up since 4am the previous morning and the second night we spent the day hiking up a mountain.  Either way, it was very comfortable and we slept well.

The next pretty specific thing to know about this inn is the breakfast situation.  The breakfast is eggs and toast, coffee and tea with orange juice.  You cook it all yourself and wash your own dishes.  There were two stoves and four huge sinks so there was plenty of room for everyone to work.  There was a big fridge in the kitchen so people kept additional food there to add to their meal.  We just had eggs and toast with coffee and juice.

Since the rooms are pretty small and made for sleeping, any free time you had during the day was spent in the kitchen.  Playing on the computer, researching your travel books, or having a rice wine varietal all took place in the kitchen/common area.  Some folks cooked dinner there. Since there aren’t a lot of bars, etc. around we picked up some beer/wine to have before we went out to dinner and hung out watching a family of 5, who were also staying there, cook their dinner.  They used a traditional Korean BBQ set up to cook some kind of meat and to boil a pot of silkworm larvae.  Of course, they had a huge container of kimchi and some leaves to wrap it all in.  It was nice to see the folks so comfortable to set up a huge family-style meal at this inn.  It is that kind of place.

We went out to eat at a restaurant that prepares foods all made with the lotus flower, called lotus cuisine.  It was something else very special.  Hopefully we will get around to writing more about that.  After dinner we came back to finish off some of the rice wines.   There were a few people hanging out.  A short while later I smelled fire!  We went outside and the fire pit was going!  It was a little chilly so the fire felt so nice and warm.

firepit

About the wines: I bought about 5 different kinds because I wanted to sample them all.  You can pick them up at any convenience or grocery store. Korea has a large selection of different drinks that you really can’t get elsewhere so I didn’t want to miss out here.  None were anything special, but it was fun to pick out interesting looking ones and then sample them.  There was a community fridge where you can keep any food/drink that you would like, so I took advantage of that. The cool thing is that when you leave you can just put a “free” sticker (there was an ample supply of homemade stickers magneted to the fridge) on anything that is extra and people can help themselves.  I left a lot of wines and a box of cookies that we didn’t finish and was happy to put the free stickers on them.

Checkout the next morning was a straight up, $35/night cash hand to hand.  Not a piece of paper in this transaction.

 

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  • Lim Ai Ling

    Hi there. I’m wondering how long does it take for the owners of Sa Rang Chae Guesthouse to confirm our booking. I wrote to them to three days ago and there’s still no reply till today. :(