We arrive in South Korea, our third trip here. It has been a long flight fourteen-hour flight including transit, we are weary, exhausted and also hungry, but arriving at Incheon international airport has lifted our spirits not only because we have arrived but the airport is glamorous and spectacular, there is a good reason the airport is rated one of the world’s best.
First thing is to catch a bus to where our apartment is, a forty-minute trip into Seoul to a place called Gyeongbokgung, a part of Korea known for its Palace but more on that later. Its almost lunchtime and check in is not quite ready, we have booked our apartment through Airbnb and we are eager to check in and relax. So instead we eat lunch at a busy food court, even for a Sunday, it has many little shops all of different Korean cuisine. I order the Dumpling soup with rice cake. I don’t know if it is the stomach speaking because I am so damn hungry but the soup is delicious and satisfies my needs. My first proper Korean meal is a success and at a very good price.
Finally, it is two in the afternoon, check in time and up to the sixth floor of an eighteen story apartment. The Room is ideal, kitchen, bathroom, living area and queen size bed downstairs and two beds for the kids in the loft upstairs. Perfect for a family of four. After a rest, it’s time to see the in-laws, at least my wife’s two sisters and their family, we meet at their own fishing shop and eat one of Koreans finest and famous meals, bulgogi, a marinated beef grilled with vegetables, yummo. After the meal it is home once again with the subway, it is a confusing system but it works and trains run all the time. We arrive at the apartment at nine pm and it is fair we don’t remember much from there. We are all out like a light.
We wake up feeling a million dollars, a great night sleep has energised our spirits and we are looking forward to the day ahead, which really only entails getting familiar with the surrounds. My wife is Korean, so she is our tour guide, translator, wife and mother all in one, the trip is more stressful on her than it is me, but she loves coming home and of course taking charge.
We wander around the Gyeongbokgung area, it is a busy area known for its office workers, therefore it is amongst high rise buildings and apartments, with just about every second shop in the vicinity being café, no problem for me there, I love my coffee. It truly has a modern look, with modern shops and lots of restaurants mainly local cuisine but also contains the familiar names amongst the westerners such as KFC, Starbucks and Baskin-Robbins, yum yum. But I haven’t come all this way to indulge in food I can eat at home, although I am sure my taste buds will desire it soon.
We eat lunch at a hidden and crowded restaurant known for its ……, another delicious Korean meal that is very neatly prepared and restaurant staff are quick to get the meal to us and keep the customer happy, we are more than satisfied. After lunch of course is Baskin-Robbins. I couldn’t resist.
We find our way to the apartment and rest for a couple of hours until it’s time for dinner with some friends. Again we eat in the Gyeongbokgung area, at a very famous Korean franchise chain called Jokpal, roughly translated of course, the chain is known for the most delicious pork leg all sliced up and neatly presented with salads, soup and side dishes such as Kimchi which you more than get to know when in Korea. It is followed with a night walk amongst the lit up city, Seoul is truly captivating at night and is city that never sleeps.
Tuesday is our first full day out, we go to Everland, South Korea’s finest theme park and one that more than matches any in Australia. Where I am from. Everland is packed even on a school day, with waiting times for some events going over an hour, I hear on weekends it is up to two to three hours, forget that. Everland is a fun day out. With safari world and hidden Valley, a bus tour that guides you on land and on water around the animals of Africa, with the likes of giraffes, Zebras, Elephants, cheetahs to name a few. But as traditional with most zoos, the animals are not doing a great deal all but the Giraffe that get up close and personal during the bus ride.
Safari world due to the long wait follow by short bus tour has taken up most of morning and early afternoon and it is time for lunch. We dined at a place called snack bar, that serves basic Korean and Western cuisine, soft drink and even beer, before finding a table in the packed food hall. But please note there are many restaurants in Everland and you can have your pick at a top notch or budget restaurant.
Lunch is followed by the simple dazzling, Tulip Festival. It really adds perfectly to the already well maintained Landscape of Everland, but Tulip festival is only a seasonal event of course and often changes its theme but whatever theme they chose they do it well. The Everland Parade took place while we were captivated by the Tulips, a dazzling with different floats and dances and well worth keeping an eye on, the music was great and the colours spectacular.
By then the boys had been teased by the rides, Everland has hundreds of rides, suiting the little kids and the big kids at heart, the boys and dad took advantage of the pirate ship, with young Lucas having his first experience of the ride, he handled it well. I couldn’t handle more rides so the young one took over on a handful of rides before it was time to head for the exit and make a two-hour journey home. We did nothing else.