“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson
Korea is a peninsula on the East Asian mainland, directly west of Japan. Seoul is the capital and largest city of South Korea. With a population of over 10 million, it is one of the world’s largest cities and is the world’s second largest metropolitan area. It’s also the headquarters for Samsung, LG, Hyundai and Kia.
We arrived the morning of Oct 1, 2009. The travel from Incheon airport to Jung-gu Seoul was exhausting . I noticed that the roads are dominated by KIA and Hyundai makers, I rarely saw other makes (3 BMWs and no Toyota). So I guess it must be true to what they say about Koreans, they patronized their own thus, attributes to their following titles as the fastest growing economy, considered as one of the 4 Asian tigers (others are Singapore, HK, and Taiwan) and Seoul as one of the world’s top ten financial and commercial cities.
We visited to 2 of their famous theme parks the Lotte World and Everland. Lotte World is an indoor theme park, one of the largest indoor amusement parks in the world. It is a recreation complex consists of a large indoor theme park, an outdoor amusement park. Everland Resort is a theme park in Yongin, a city in Gyeonggi-do province. Everland is South Korea’s largest theme park. The main attractions are the zoo and a water park known as Caribbean Bay. Everland is operated by Samsung Everland, which is a subsidiary of the Samsung Group. Divided into 5 distinct zones; Global Fair, Zoo-Topia, European Adventure, Magic Land and American Adventure. In fairness, the 2 theme parks are not crappy at all especially Everland , the architecture, scale, themes and general atmosphere was comparable to Disneyland minus Mickey mouse of course.
The name of the park is of note, as the name is “Everland” of English origin. In Korean, the name is approximated as “Ebeoraendeu” – in other words, there is no authentic Korean name for the park. This park was formerly called “Ja Yeon Nong Won.”
We also went to see N Seoul Tower, a communication and observation tower located in central Seoul, South Korea. It has also been
known as the Namsan Tower or Seoul Tower. After the tower’s original owner merged with the CJ Corporation, it was renamed the N Seoul Tower (official name CJ Seoul Tower).We took a cab halfway and by foot the other half. Most of the city of Seoul can be seen from the top. We took the Namsan cable car going down the mountain.
We tried their famous sauna or Jim Jil Bang a large, gender-segregated public bathhouses in Korea, complete with hot tubs, showers, Finnish-style saunas, and massage tables. In other areas of the building or on other floors there are unisex areas, usually with a snack bar, ondol-heated floor for lounging and sleeping, wide-screen TVs, and karaoke lounge (where we spent money singing Sorry, Sorry a Korean hit pop song by super junior) and sleeping quarters with either bunk beds or sleeping mats.
Jim Jil Bang, are unisex. There are two distinct areas. The dry area, an area that typically has different types of saunas, massage chairs, restaurants or exercise rooms. Since men and women will be together in these areas, one is obligated to be clothed in their pre-issued uniform which is a big t-shirt and baggy shorts. The wet area have different types of saunas. Clothes are not allowed in this segregated area, no bathing suits in the tubs.
Entering the sauna you can’t help but noticed all the strange body types walking around butt naked. You don’t need to exert an effort to look, as meat slabs of all types, shape, size and form are dangling in front of you. While inhaling all the oxygen I can take in the oxygen room, my friends decided to go to the wet area for some skinny dipping. Not my cup of tea – Bathing naked with a lot of other naked people was not my idea of relaxation. I just wouldn’t be caught dead butt naked even if the the world will kiss my ass.
On our last day we shopped and grabbed a bite at McDonald’s at Itaewon. It is an area visited mostly by the large number of Americans (both Military and civilian) and other foreigners.
Unfortunately, it`s extremely rare to find someone who speaks English in Korea therefore it`s quite easy to feel lost. Being more resourceful and self reliant by goggling the place where you are heading wouldn’t hurt. In fact, it might be rewarding if you reached your destination. Lastly, always bear in mind “When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman
Having their pictures taken most people have their way of expressing or pausing themselves in front of the camera. When smilling just aint enough, Star Strek fans do the “klingon pause”, Japanese and Chinese used the “peace sign pause”. But the Korean teens added more twist to it and made it their ‘own’ – they do a touched face (sometimes) looking away sad from the camera pause (refer to Exhibit A) and to emphasis more on the emotions (or being cool) the no look shoot my back pause (refer to Exhibit B). To mimic, this is how it would looked like.
Seoul, South Korea Oct 1 -4, 2009