May 25, 2011

South Korea Theme Parks: Everland and Lotte World (Day 3, Part 2)

Everland Resort
Everland Resort is said to be South Korea’s response to Tokyo’s Disneyland and its neighbors’ lavish theme parks.  This is not entirely correct, though.  Everland first opened its doors to Korean familes in 1976.  It wouldn’t be until 7 years later that Disney would put up and open its first theme park outside the United States.  Thus, it could be argued that this Korean family gem is the catalyst that caused theme parks to sprout around the region.

The excitement among the young ones and the uhmmm “young once” were very glaring when the sight of the park first came to view.  However, such thrill was later on dampened – literally.  Rain clouds followed our bus from the strawberry farm to this part of Yongin City.  By the time we were able to enter the park, all of us were already wrapped with plastic rain coats that the park gave us.
Cable Car Ride at Everland
Before we were allowed to roam around the theme park by ourselves, our guide first lead us to Safari World.  Some of us nearly weren’t able to go with her, though, as cold feet brought about by fear of a cable car ride (instead of the cold weather) made them froze on the platform.  Luckily, their fear of being left out or lost is stronger than their fear of heights.  Needless to say, everybody survived our first “unofficial” Everland ride :)
Animal Counter at Everland's Safari World
Now back to Safari World.  The line was long, suggesting that this attraction is a must-see.  I wasn’t exactly sure as to what we would be seeing or experiencing inside this mini zoo.  But judging from the animal counter, we would be laying our eyes to many four-legged creatures.

Everland Safari World's main star is definitely
smarter than your average bear
At first, I thought that we would be seeing the animals from afar like in Sentosa’s Night Safari.  But we were delighted to be wrong.  First to grace our cameras at only several inches away was the king of the jungle with his harems.  It was an incredible encounter considering that they were only a few rulers away from the bus window.  Tigers also roamed around the mini-African landscape.  We also saw ligers!  In case you don’t know, ligers are the result of the union between a lion and a tiger.  Now who would’ve thought that that’s possible.  But the mammal that stole the show and our hearts were the well-trained bears that seem to have traces of Yogi’s DNA as they were definitely smarter than your average bears.

T-Express: Steepest Wooden Rollder Coaster
in the World
After the 10-minute ride around Everland’s Safari World, we were towed by our guide towards the Four Seasons Garden.  As expected, my mom was delighted by the sight of flowers that carpeted the grounds.  They’re definitely a Korean attraction, especially the tulips which were already in season.  Ironically, the background of such relaxing and lovely sight was the heart-wrenching wooden roller coaster called the T-Express which is said to be the steepest in the world.  It also ranks 6th in terms of length.  Bordering the gardens are houses and structures that mirror those in Holland.  Fountains and sculptures from the Renaissance period also adorned a good portion of Everland’s European Adventure section.

The park is divided into five zones that have their own distinct themes: Zoo-Topia, European Adventure, Global Fair, Magic Land, American Adventure.  Unfortunately, we were only able to roam around the first three.  My preoccupation in finding the lone money changer in the park may have caused me to miss some of the finer details in the map that would’ve lead us to the last two sections.  We were even surprised that there was a water park inside Everland!  The lucky ones who were able to find their way to Carribean Bay told us that that the Wild River ride was worth the long lines!  Oh well…

Cinderella hour for us came quite early as we were set to depart for Seoul Tower at 5:30 p.m.  While we were waiting at the Global Fair, Ms. Julia told us that she would be making some changes in our itinerary due to the weather.  Instead going to Seoul Tower, we were headed instead to another theme park – Lotte World.

Lotte World

Lotte World Adventure Indoor Theme Park
While it may not be as big as Everland, Lotte World is still a sight to behold and a recreational center definitely worth visiting.  Some even prefer the latter over the former due to its proximity and accessibility, being located right in the heart of Seoul.  It is divided into two sections – Magic Island (outdoor park) and Lotte World Adventure (indoor).  Due to the inclement weather, we were only confined to the indoor section of the theme park.

In case you’re into superlatives, Lotte World hosts the world’s largest indoor theme park.  Ironically, we were only given about an hour to roam around the massive complex.  Thus, we only contented ourselves in exploring the 3rd level of the building.  The indoor rides were not as hair-raising as their outdoor counterparts, but they were already enough to cause our hearts to work overtime.  Of course, weak-kneed excursionists would delight in the slow-moving balloon ride which will give you a spectacular panoramic view of Lotte World Adventure.
View from the balloon ride at Lotte World's Indoor
Theme Park
Our 1-hour sojourn to Lotte World Adventure did not allow us to explore the other rides and amenities of the complex, which include a skating rink, movie houses, and even a hotel.  However, our weary bodies made us already thankful that our second theme park visit for the day ended a bit early.  But I really would’ve wanted to take that chilly, but relaxing stroll around Seokchonhosu Lake at Magic Island.  Oh well, at least I have one more reason to go back to Korea :)

Everland Admission Fees (Daytime / Nighttime):

Adult:  W30,000 / W24,000
Teenager:  W25,000 / W22,000
Children:  W22,000 / W20,000

*Nighttime rate starts at 5:00 p.m.

Lotte World Admission Fees (Morning / Afternoon / Evening):

Adult:  W26,000 / W22,000 / W15,500
Teenager:  W23,000 / W19,000 / W13,500
Children:  W20,000 / W16,000 / W11,500

*Afternoon rate starts at 4:00 p.m.
  Evening rate starts at 7:00 p.m.

Directions to Everland and Lotte World

How to go to Everland Resort by bus:

There's a bus that goes straight to Everland at Dong Seoul Bus Terminal and at Seoul Nambu Terminal.  Travel time is approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.

How to get to Lotte World by Train / Subway or Bus:

Going to Lotte World is easy and convenient by subway/train as there is a direct access to the station.  Take subway line 2 and 8 to Jamsil Station (Exit No. 4).

May 24, 2011

South Korea Vacation: Kim Chi-Making, Hanboks, and Strawberries (Day 3, Part 1)

Day 3 of our South Korea itinerary was all about bringing out the inner child in us.  The teens and the tweens in our group were anticipating this part of the tour since the first day we set foot in the country.  I am not a big fan of theme parks, let alone the rides therein that seemed to have been made and meant to test how fast you can control that sphincter in your body which is closely associated with the 7th planet of the solar system (if you know what I mean).  But since I can’t dissuade them from flirting with cardiac arrest, not to mention that we’ve already paid for it, I squeezed out every ounce of enthusiasm that I have for scary rides.
Scary Ride at Everland
Of course, there was that calm before the storm.  The first order of the day was a visit at a strawberry farm.  Clouds were hovering around the city since the sun woke up.  Of course, that meant that the 15 degree Celsius forecast for the day missed its mark by about 6-7 degrees.  It was freezing!

Before we went to the tents where the strawberries were to be picked, we were first lead to a place where Kim Chi was being made.  The kitchen lesson was interesting, although I’m not quite sure if I got the mixture right since I was juggling between pressing the shutter and putting spicy sauce on a cabbage (or was it lettuce?).
Kim Chi-making
After a futile attempt at a career in the kitchen, we were then taken to a small Korean hut where a good number of Hanboks (local traditional costumes) were available for photo-op purposes.  Being a fan of Korean TV series featuring the days of old in this part of North Asia, my mom immediately grabbed the opportunity of trying every costume that she could get her hands on.  The same interest was exhibited by almost all of the women in the group.  As expected, the men were relegated to the menial task of taking their pictures.
Ms. Julia then whisked us to long white tents where the strawberries were to be picked.  We were only allowed to pick 5, but it seems that many were arithmetically-challenged that day.  I caught some doing some multiplication instead of simple addition in arriving at the prescribed number :)
Korean Strawberry Farm
Lunch came just in time as my tummy was already screaming persecution.  The food was, as always, sumptuous.  I told Gin before I left Manila that I will probably be losing a few pounds because of the endless walking that we would most likely be doing in Korea.  But I was dead wrong.  Judging by the effort that I was exerting every morning in buttoning my pants, I lost nothing and gained something!
Bulgogi lunch. Unlimited meat!
 And now for the main event -- Everland and Lotte World!  (Click on article link)


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