Tag Archive: bear

Hwacheon Ice Festival

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From Busan (or anywhere, I think) you will need to take a bus to Chuncheon and then to Hwacheon. From Busan it is about 5 hours and then to Hwacheon it is about 30 minutes. I think from Seoul it is about an hour to Chuncheon. Anyway, coming from Busan you can’t leave past 8pm. My friend and I tried going straight after work, getting to Nopo bus station at 840 with no luck. They said the first bus was at 730am and when we got there at 715 the next morning they were sold out until 840. We could have bought the 730 tickets the night before, but whenever I have bought bus or train tickets early I don’t wake up. And when I don’t buy the tickets in advance I wake up and the first bus is sold out. Oh well…thus is life in Korea where you can’t buy tickets online. And can’t buy them if you’re not in the city you’re buying from.

Hwacheon is a pretty small city, but throws a few festivals throughout the year, including one where you though tomatoes (I plan on coming back for that…). I’m pretty sure we walked around the whole city going along the river, so it can’t be that big. It does have Popeyes. Which I haven’t seen in Korea anywhere else.

We got there about 2pm on Saturday and left around noon on Sunday.

There are fish decorations all down the main street (N-S) and part way down another main street (E-W).

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There is also a giant bear to great you as you enter the city, but he has his back to the bus station so I couldn’t get a great picture of him. However he is the mascot for the town so he is pretty much everywhere.

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There were about 10,000 people fishing, would be my guess. We went back Sunday morning there was no one there.

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You can try to catch a fish with your bare hands, but that seemed a bit too cold for us. My hands were almost frozen just from walking around with gloves on (I always forget to move my fingers) so the idea of catching them wearing shorts and a T-shirt in cold water was not a fun idea. Most people but the fish in their shirts and pulled them out with their mouths. That’s too much.

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Then we found our foreigner only fishing area which did have Koreans in it! The staff there were super helpful and you can borrow the fishing rod from the foreigner only tent (which had Koreans blocking it the second time we tried to go in…I guess when they were told they could not go in they stood outside and tried to not let anyone in–that doesn’t work for me!) The staff will get the fish off your hook, put it in your bag, and put water in your bag too so the fish won’t die.

I didn’t catch any, but my friend caught two.

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We tried the fish both ways they were offered–grilled and fried.

Hwacheon Ice Festival 062 Hwacheon Ice Festival 065After that we headed to the kiddie area, called Snow Fun Park. They had a Snowmen Zone, Snow Snake Eolgomi Sled and Sledge Park. The Snowmen Zone made me think of that photo that was going around awhile ago with the caption ‘snowmen gather to protest global warming’. They were all made by kids and parents.

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The Snow Snake Eolgomi Sled and Sledge Park were closed when we went on Saturday, but we did them on Sunday, after the 4-wheel-bike/ATV on ice. The 4-wheel-bike had a ticket office next to it saying 5,000 but we were charged 10,000 per bike so the two of us went on one. We switched part-way though, and were too cold to finish the 10 minutes allotted because we could not move our fingers while driving and they started to freeze. They let us go into their warming area with their heater though! It was a lot of fun sliding around on the ice in the ATV. The Sledge Park was a hill where you were given inner tubes to go down. When I asked if I could go backwards the guy at the top said ‘Ummm….yeah….you’re brave’ but I figured since I always spun around halfway down the hill anyway I would do it this time too. Wrong. Went backwards the whole way which was still fun. After that he spun me and I said to my friend ‘you should try it!’ but she did not hear me, and when I stood up I automatically said ‘I’m gonna throw up’ because I was so dizzy but still told her to try it, leading to the best quote of the weekend:

“I’m gonna throw up. You should try it!”

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The Snow Snake Eolgomi Sled was interesting….it is two kayaks tied together which are tied in the front to a cable that goes back and forth and you do an oval around it. At one point we flew out of the oval track because we did not weigh enough and my kayak got pushed back in but my friends did not and she had to wait till we were going fast enough to go back in! She was basically vertical until she went back it. It was tons of fun! I screamed and laughed the whole time.

Hwacheon Ice Festival 195After that we tried to go fishing again but we were told that we would have to buy the pole and such as there were SO MANY RESERVATIONS. We were surprised as no one was on the ice and we were the only foreigners around. Then we just went to see if we could get sashimi without bringing a fish which was 12,000 including the vegetables. (Otherwise 5,000 for the pole, 8,000 entry that we paid the day before and lasts a week, 2,000 for preparation, and 2,000 for vegetables totaling 17,000, or 9,000 if you take off the entry since that was paid the day before and we already caught 2 fish the day before). Good deal. It was pretty good, I still liked grilled the best. I’ll be off fish again for awhile (we’ll see how long that lasts i Korea…)

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After we tried the sweet food they had: grilled rice cake on a stick with honey. Pretty good, but still not as sweet as my American taste-buds would like. I liked it more than I though I would have though.

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As for the night….

There is a World Winter Cities Plaza which probably would have been better during the day, but we ended up there at dusk. The 3D art area was really small so we did not want to pay 5,000 entry. There was also a 4D ride which had a huge line filled with children, so I guess it was more for them. The Tea Event is what we really went to this Plaza for, but if there was tea to be given out it was no longer there at 6pm. There were outfits from different countries you could try on and pose with though–we did not because, well, what does that have to do with tea?

We then walked to Hope Lights Plaza which is a tower with an ice skating rink next to it. There were some people preforming at first, and later anyone was allowed on.

The Ice Illumination Plaza is where the ice sculpture were and they were huge! I’ve seen ice sculpture before but never this big! The was a Zodiac calendar, Terracotta Warriors, Andong Masks, statues and palaces from Seoul, the Taj Mahal, an Igloo, a dragon chair, the Sydney Opera house and so much more.

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N Seoul Tower

This has a thousand names: N Seoul Tower, North Seoul Tower, Namsan Tower, Seoul Tower, CJ Seoul Tower…and I have been yelled at for calling it the wrong one by other Westerners! He’s an odd one though…

Anyway, its pretty expensive to get to: 8,000 for the cable car (it was cold and dark so I was not going to walk in the park) and then 9,000 to take the elevator to the top. There is a wait at both parts as well (I’m sure at all times of the day, even to go back). First you do take a free slanted-elevator thing to get from the street to the cable car though.

I like Busan Tower better because you see mountains and the sea, while from Seoul Tower you just see mountains. But that’s just me.

Not much else to say, so have a look at the view.

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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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