Tag Archive: american

More Seoul!

Walking around I saw the Institute of Traditional Korean food–I must try this place out next time I come up if they are open on weekends! I saw nearly everything Seoul has to offer and there are only a few places I want to go to again so this is close to the top of my list!

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I also found Insa-dong, which was not as exciting as I thought it would be.

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I found Myeong-dong to me much more exciting for shopping (and probably getting robbed as there are so many people–at least there were 2 days before Christmas!)

Seoul 2 038I also walked past Jongno Tower which is a beautiful display of modern architecture.

Everland and Seoul 454Oh hey look–the US embassy has a billion air conditioners and a billion guards.

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Outside of the Seoul Museum of History was this display…not sure what it is for but was pretty sad looking.

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I walked down Jeongdong-gil, which was a street that was recommended for a stroll.

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Seoul set up ice skating in the City Hall area.

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There was also a parade of red and green balloons.

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The ‘R’ building?

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A walk down Cheonggyecheon-ro river is not as beautiful as I expected, forgetting that it is winter.

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Another interesting building. I couldn’t decide if it was a letter or not and, if so, if it was an M or N or…

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Cheonggye Plaza

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Crossing Banpodaegyo Bridge

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Spaceship building!

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And some more odd buildings in the Lotte Duty Free-COEX-7 Luck Casino area

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And, of course, required Dokdo signs.

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Everland: Christmas Fantasy

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There was/is a deal to go from Busan to Everland for their Christmas Fantasy for 55,000KRW (bus one way and entry to the park) and since Everland entry is 40,000KRW anyway–why not?

Everland seems like a nice try at making a Korean Disney–as you can even see from the animals on the ticket.  They have a It’s a Small World After All ride (Global Village), Dumbo, etc and areas devoted to different parts of the world like Epcot.

We took the first bus from Busan (5:20am) and got there before 10am which is when they open. There were about a million kids there on school trips!

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There were some great decorations and other areas that were just beautiful because of the snow.

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When we arrived, most of the rides were closed because it was ‘too cold’ for them to be open. As that morning had not been any colder than other mornings around that time of the year, I thought it was a rip off because if it did not get warm enough they would not open the rides. I understand the safety aspect, but why would they not say this on their website? I would have wanted money back if all the roller coasters and fun rides had stayed closed all day–I don’t want to go on kiddie rides all day! After lunch all the rides opened though! Well, all but the steepest wooden roller coaster in the world–T Express. (I don’t think their website is correct in saying it is the steepest ride in the world because a few years ago a roller coaster in Florida opened with a 90 degree drop in it.)

Hurricane: The first ride we went on. I had low expectations since they let us hold our backpacks but it went A LOT higher than I thought. Good ride. With some odd signage.

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Championship Rodeo: This ride was very ‘Americanized’ and turned into a wild-west themed rodeo with posters of Western movie heroes riding horses and trying to catch bulls and the like. The ride itself was quite good, spinning in a car which spins on an access which will throw you back and forth so it is like you are at a rodeo.

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Global Village: copy of It’s a Small World After All. Creepy dolls galore with mostly European countries represented (only 3 from the Americas, 1 from Africa and 4 from Asia).

Flying Rescue: A kids ride, but a fun one. You control the up and down of it while it spins around (but we were never sure who were were supposed to be rescuing). I’m trying to look mean in the picture below because both sides get a control and we were saying that it was going to be “I want to go up” “WELL TOO BAD I WANT TO GO DOWN” and then you slam on the lever.

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Peter Pan: Don’t understand the name of this one as the carts were all attached to a viking style ship, not a captain hook looking one. That is what I originally thought anyway, looking at the picture below, I’m not sure why I did. But alas, it was a bit boring as you did just go in a circle with a few up and downs that did not go that high. The only bit that amused me was when I noticed the only thing making us go around is one wheel on the track–which I thought was odd because there could have just as easily been more.

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Magic Swing: The lady who locks you in slammed the bar on my leg and when I let out a yelp she just looked at me, pulled the bar up and when I moved my leg put it back down without looking sad or saying anything. You slide back and forth and spin (not all the way around, just like 90 degrees).

Rotating House: trick on your mind: you sit and the room spins. I expected that, and then still freaked out a bit, grabbing onto the bar for dear life before realizing my hair and scarf were not starting to hang above my head and I didn’t move at all. There are goblin creatures speaking to you the whole time, seemingly fighting.

Mystery Mansion: shooting game! You have a speech by an old man about ghosts and how you can shoot them with a lazer gun (it was in Korean, but there was a sign in English before entry), then sit on a cart which goes though a tunnel and you shoot green dots. I got second place and my friend got 1st.

Pororo 3D Adventure: don’t let the fact that there are English subtitles in the entry fool you–there are none inside the actual theater itself. That being said, you don’t really need them as the story is pretty easy to figure out–cute, and a good way to sit inside and away from the cold.

Racing Coaster: kids roller coaster, but don’t dismiss these. They can be quite fun and this one did not disappoint! Never a long line and the rides are just as long as the ‘adult’ ones.

Rolling X-Train: Good roller coaster, longggg line (at least when I was there). Two loop-d-loops!

Let’s Twist: I have never seen a ride like this and I loved it! Lot’s of 50s American music playing and lots of flips. During the ride I worried about how well others had tied their shoes on….

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Double Rock Spin: Standard ride that I love. This one spun a lot more than any I had been on before–if you get to the top the main operating it will just spin you in circles which was awesome to me!…but made my friend sick.

Top Jet: Another fun kids ride! You go in circles and control if you spin more and go up and down.

Petting Zoo: sheep, chicks, bunnies, roosters, and hamsters–the sheep were really interested in my popcorn!

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Safari World: It’s….interesting. The bears have been trained which I don’t think is a good idea…what if people get too comfortable with them, forgetting they are wild and they kill staff? Or the kids who see them doing tricks think they area always like that and approach one in the wild? Was pretty cool to see white tigers, but they also have lions which were not in the right setting–snow with 3 male lions in the same pride. Not sure if two were young ‘uns but they didn’t look small…I think there were some ligers too (they were advertised but I’m not sure if I saw a liger or a big lion).

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Moonlight Parade (~12/31): Beautiful parade! My friend did say that it did not change in 10 years though, which would be a bit dull if you went every year (either in it or had kids who couldn’t remember that it was the same everytime). The floats were amazing and one had fire coming out of it!

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Magic in the Sky (~12/30): Since when is Santa a pyro? He was conducting fire and fireworks in this show.Also, the fireworks go off pretty close to you and are angled to not go directly off, but go towards the audience, which made sense of the message to ‘look out for falling debris’. Pretty good show for 10 minutes.

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This weekend I went to Gwangju with two friends and continued onto Naejangsan National Park for a Sunday hike. The bus from Sasang in Busan is about 3 1/2hours (but on our way back it was only 2 1/2  so that was pretty amazing). You can also leave from Nopo but that adds more than 1/2 an hour to the time and costs more than 5,000 KRW more.

One friend had already been to Gwangju and there were certain things he had not seen before and wanted to see this time so we headed off from the bus station towards the river and to the Gwangu Student Independence Movement Memorial Tower. Let’s just say that the map on how to get anywhere in Gwangju is very deceptive in the scale. We walked, and walked and walked and walked while checking the map I had taken a photo of on my real camera and Googlemaps on our phones (had to cross check as the memorial tower is not in Googlemaps). Let me simplifiy it’s location for you, as their tourist map is also a bit wrong: go to the Yangdong Market stop and check out the market for a bit (if it’s open, we were there midday on a Saturday and things looked a bit closed). Either cross the river at that train stop bridge or the next bridge south. Keep walking down the street of that second bridge and you will see a few rocks with carvings and a nice building that looks a bit like a police station. Go in there and keep walking ahead. The shrine is surrounded by trees so we almost missed it from within the park! Fair warning: it’s not very big.

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After that we headed down toward Art Street which was 1 km away. There were some interesting statues along the way, and a park that had a great performance area (more on that on our way back). We headed down towards Wongaksa Temple to see that before art street and it was quite a beautiful temple in the middle of the city. Art Street is more of ‘Art Academy Street’ as there were many academy and not so much people selling art on the street, which is what we thought it would have been. After that, we headed back to the park, going towards the 5-Story STONE Pagoda. I’m only seeing the word stone now that I’m looking at the map, as we thought it was going to be a real pagoda. In the park there were some rapping 20-something Koreans that I wish I had taken a video of since they were free-styling but I was a bit nervous to just pull out my camera then. It took us awhile to find the pagoda since, again, it is not on googlemaps and the tourist map is a bit deceptive as to where things are.

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After this we had coffee and warmed up in Hans and Bean which is a great coffee shop! Haven’t seen them in Busan, but they were all over Gwangju.  We then found out that we were in the perfect area for what we were looking for that night–pubs and great food–around the culture complex subway stop.

Our first stop was the Speakeasy, used to be called Mike and Dave’s Speakeasy, which was an expat Irish-Ameircan pub with Guinness and Smithwicks. The bathroom had a ton of interesting and hilarious (and sometimes hateful) writing. Next was Tequilaz Mexican Grill and Bar where we had TG Tequila which was the best tequila I have ever had. The manager was trying to sell it to us hard and said “I won’t even give you a lemon, it’s that smooth” and he was right. We also had fantastic tacos, chimichangas and nachos there. He suggested that we go to German Bar Two, but after we got there it was more of a club which was not what we were looking for so we headed back to Soul Train (not related to the one in Busan) which was a bit expensive but had pool.

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Spent the night in Starbucks Spa (Starbucks was the name of the building, but there was no Starbucks Coffee to be seen) which was pretty standard other than the washrooms which had personal jacuzzis.

The next day we went to the park for the hike and that post is here. We returned in time to explore Gwangju a bit more, but using the same map we did not find much. We tried to find the Hwadamsa Shrine but I’m pretty sure that was taken down as we walked a circle around where it should have been and only saw 2 Christian churches there. Also tried to find the May 18 Memorial Park but there was no park to be seen, unless it was inside an apartment complex.

Overall, Gwangju was interesting and I do plan on going back to do another hike in that park and for delicious Mexican food, but this time I’ll keep my expectations low about the tourist map and if things will actually be where they say they are.