Saturday, 23 March 2019

Korea Trip Day 4 ~ Lotte World

On Day 4, we had a relaxing morning before proceeding to Lotte World.

We chose Lotte World over Everland as it had an indoor section, which would be able to withstand any weather. When we arrived at Lotte World, it was already 12.30p.m. My enthusiastic daughter opted to go on rides before lunch, and by lunch time, we had gone on five different rides, with a repeat on one of the rides. The rides were Drunken Basket, Jumping Fish (Little An's favourite), Dragons Wild Shooting, Lotty Train and Eureka, which required us to pump on a piston in order to fly.

Jumping fish


By 1 p.m., we saw people laying picnic mats, all ready for the parade, which we thought was at 1.30 p.m. We had to contend sitting behind someone's mat at 1.20 p.m. as there were no 'front seats'. To my surprise, the parade was actually at 2 p.m., so we waited for 40 minutes before some entertainers appeared. The children enjoyed the parade though and were thrilled when some performers gave them high fives. My friend's daughter even received a sweet from a dancer and she beamed in delight.

After the parade, we went on the hot air balloon ride, which gave us a bird's eye view of the indoor section of the theme park. The queue for the ride was 40 minutes so I purchased an ice cream for Little An to eat while we waited. She was thrilled!

We also went to the Folk Museum, but did not cover the whole place. The girls did a simple craft and I gave them a notebook each to draw what they saw. They were both earnest in their tasks.

For the rest of the day, we took the World Monorail, went on the Petit Beep Beep and Fantasy Dream rides and watched the Let's Dream Night Parade. A number of rides were for children above 110cm in height and my friend's daughter was turned away from a ride that we had wanted to go on. We were glad she could go on the Fantasy Dream ride as it was a hit with its many whimsical scenes along the way.

The night parade scored with the amazing movement of balloons and the short burst of fireworks at the end of the show.

We had an enjoyable day at Lotte World and the balloons that my friend bought for the two girls from Lotte World served as wonderful souvenirs from the trip. 😊

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Korea Trip Day 3 Part 2 ~ Gangchon Rail Park

The final location included in our day tour was Gangchon Rail Park. I spent quite a lot of time researching on this place as I wanted to be sure it was safe for kids and that it was not too strenuous for me. I also read reviews that it might not be suitable in cold weather.

I finally decided to go to the rail park when my friend said she and her daughter could accompany us. On the day itself, however, her daughter fell asleep and my friend opted out. Little An and I were left to operate a four-person bike on our own! Little An tried to stretch her legs out as much as she could to help, but she told me in disappointment that her feet could not reach the pedals. I was appreciative that she was so sweet.

The first part of the 50-minute bike ride was smooth. There was probably some aid from engines as the pedalling was smooth and I could record videos easily. It was just before the fourth tunnel (out of 5) when I started to have to pedal very hard and wishing I was fitter. I told myself to enjoy the music in the tunnel and not think about how difficult the task was. Before the fifth tunnel, we were given a VR gear to play a game. The visuals for the game were attractive but I did not know if I was playing it correctly as there were no points to track progress. By that time, I was exhausted with pedalling and prayed the tunnel would come to an end soon. When it finally did, I think my sigh of relief was audible. Perhaps it would have been less taxing if we had taken a 2-person bike instead.

What I liked about the rail bike experience were the scenic views along the way. To be positive, I also managed to work out some calories from the delicious lunch. 😂 The cold weather did not bother me as I felt hot and started to perspire quite early on during the ride!

I was thankful that a train picked us up after our bike ride and a short rest. The 40-minute train ride was relaxing with soothing music, pleasant views and my always cheerful companion.

Despite the exhaustion towards the end of the bike ride, I would still recommend this activity. Perhaps there should be at least two adults pedalling if riding on a four-seater, especially if one adult is as unfit as me (though to be fair to me, I exercise every day!). 😀

Monday, 18 March 2019

Korea Trip Day 3 Part 1 ~ Petite France and Nami Island

On day 3, we signed up for a day tour with SA Tour via klook. The tour included visits to Petite France, Nami Island and Gangchon Rail Park. This post will capture our experiences at Petite France and Nami Island.

Petite France

Petite France, where Le Petit Prince was the main theme, was pretty. Little An and I had gone to the Little Prince exhibition at the Philatelic Museum in Singapore and thereafter read The Little Prince by Saint-Exupery, so we were thrilled to see aspects of the book being displayed. We were reacquainted with the lamplighter, the king, the prince's plane and more. The boa constrictor who swallowed the elephant was more obviously portrayed in its 3D form than in the book. We even got to put on the prince's coat and pose for photos. Some of the rooms could only be accessed by climbing up steep steps though, and we had to miss seeing what those rooms had in store as we ran out of time.

As its name implies, there were a number of French elements at the attraction. We visited a little French 'house' and saw how the French may decorate their abodes. There was also an antique shop and a room showcasing traditional French games.

Nami Island

This was my second time at Nami Island, though all I could remember of it from the first trip were its signature rows and rows of trees and that the first kiss scene from Winter Sonata took place there. This time, I realised that the island has much more to offer.

The children enjoyed frolicking in the vast space while I revelled in the tranquil environment. My friend's daughter found the perfect twig for a wand and Little An discovered a rabbit. We also had fun spotting other animals like squirrels and ostriches.

Apart from nature, the island also impressed with its amenities for children. I was amazed by the shelving system at the Picture Book Library! It was so huge that it could contain hundreds of books despite having only one book in each cubicle. Unfortunately, almost all the books were in Korean, otherwise we could have spent our whole time reading. 

There was also a kid land with a steep slide that sent Little An whooshing down at an exhilarating speed and an exhibition of the works of three children's books illustrators. Outdoors, a playground with a sky rail bike entertained those who preferred the clean fresh air. I must also mention the sausages as among the four of us, we ate six!

We decided to take the train back to the entrance of the island, where we caught the ferry back to the mainland. I really enjoyed Nami Island and would be back real soon.

The lunch provided by the tour company was delicious - dakgalbi! I ate all I could as I could work out all the calories gained at our next activity. Till the next blog post. 😊👋

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Korea Trip Day 2 Part 2 ~ Children's museum of the National Museum of Korea

From the palace, we made our way to Ichon station to meet our friends. We were to go to the Children's Museum of the National Museum of Korea together.

There were session timings, so even though we were there at 2.30 p.m., we had to wait till 3 p.m. to enter the children's museum. It was worth the wait as the next 1.5 hours proved to be fun for the children.

They coloured a prettily designed vase, assembled a 3D vase (which was not easy at all), pretended to cook samgyetang at a kitchen, rolled grains and experienced the building of a hanok. They spent about half an hour playing at a play area, where they climbed up and down a mound, not without squeals of glee. They had to be reminded by a staff member a few times that their session's timing was up before they started to put on their footwear. They had a great time.

We had dinner at Myeongdong Kyoja, where we ordered mandu and kalguksu noodles. Little An enjoyed the mandu, and dinner was a great ending to our busy day. 😊


Saturday, 16 March 2019

Korea Trip Day 2 Part 1 ~ Gyeongbokgung and National Folk Museum of Korea

On our second day, I let Little An sleep in as she was probably exhausted from all the travelling on Day 1, which meant that we would miss the changing of the guards ceremony at 10 a.m. at the Gyeongbokgung palace. When she woke, we walked to a little Isaac Toast stand just next to our hotel (Pacific Hotel) to buy our breakfast. I had read good reviews of the food at Isaac Toast and was not disappointed. I enjoyed the bulgogi toast while Little An savoured her bacon and egg muffin. It was a good start to our day.

May the Lord bless their business just as he had blessed Isaac. 

After a filling breakfast, we took the subway to Gyeongbokgung station. I found the most helpful and informative post on the Gyeongbokgung palace here. There is information on show times, the history of the palace, the functions of each building and how to get to the palace etc. We arrived at the palace after walking a short distance from Exit 5. Little An wanted to try on a hanbok, so we located a hanbok rental across the road from the palace and before long, she was transformed into a Korean princess. That cost me 23000₩ (~SGD27), inclusive of hairdo. The hairdo was elaborate! I was amazed by the skills of the hairstylist.

We returned to the palace where we took a colossal number of photos. The palace grounds were sprawling, though each building appeared more or less the same to me. The information provided was in Korean so if I had not read up on the palace beforehand, I might not have known what the buildings were used for.

After walking for about half an hour, we reached the National Folk Museum of Korea, which was on the right side of the palace. We had to exit from the palace, but could re-enter the palace with my ticket (palace entry was free for children under 6 and for visitors donning hanboks).

There was an exhibition about a fisherman, his family, their cat and their dog at the children's section of the museum. It was a small area, but Little An was suitably occupied. She attempted to hook fishes up with a rod, decorated balls and sent them onto a screen and 'swam' through the sea (a tunnel of streamers suspended from the ceiling).

We also went to a permanent exhibition and learnt about the culture of Korea. We heard the sounds of various traditional instruments used in Korea and witnessed how a traditional wedding is conducted there. There were also Korean games which visitors could play, but we ran out of time and had to give that a miss.

I would have loved to spend more time at the museum, but we had to return Little An's hanbok and hurry to another museum to meet our friends. We also gave the samgyetung at Tosokchon (a restaurant famous for its ginseng chicken) a miss even though it was a stone's throw from where we were as meeting our friends was our priority. That gives us something to look forward to during our next visit! 😋 I was thankful for a pleasant morning and for my enthusiastic travel companion. 😊

Friday, 15 March 2019

Korea Trip Day 1 ~ N Seoul Tower

My last trip to Korea was in June 2007 and we had joined a tour group. This time, I was audacious enough to lug my five-year-old on a free and easy trip there in the cold month of March, knowing only two Korean words. Before the trip, I was gaping at the temperature charts (which showed that the temperature would range between -2 and 12°c during our trip), wishing that the country would heat up while we were there. I also added to the sales figures of Uniqlo by stocking up on its Heat tech products.

All my worries were unfounded. Our outer jackets (mine was a lightly padded one from Uniqlo while hers was a little more puffy one from Decathlon) managed to keep us warm throughout the trip. On most days, we wore three layers (extra warm Heat tech thermals, a shirt or jumper and our jackets) and we were comfortable.

The airport buses were easily located. We took Bus 6015 to Myeongdong and located our hotel after a short walk. What I was not prepared for was that Google maps do not provide walking and driving directions in Korea for security reasons and I was lost for awhile. (I downloaded Naver maps later.) Thank God the hotel sign was clearly in sight. Praise God also that we got a room upgrade and got to stay in a suite! 😊

We were still energetic and since the N Seoul Tower was just a short walk away, we decided to pay it a visit. We arrived at the cable car station and were thankful that it was uncrowded. The sun was setting and the sky was painted in lovely hues of pink and orange. I marvelled at the beauty of His creations.

Since we are Hello Kitty fans, we purchased the observatory cum Hello Kitty Island combo. We were instructed to visit the Hello Kitty Island first, so by the time we stepped foot in the observatory, it was dark. I was hoping to capture photos of the city against the beautiful sky but that did not happen. Nonetheless, we enjoyed taking photos at the Hello Kitty Island. It was a small place featuring the different rooms in Hello Kitty's house. We were also given a stamping sheet to collect six stamps. Upon completion, we received a Hello Kitty badge, to Little An's elation.

We then proceeded to the observatory, where we admired the views of Seoul city from a higher vantage point.

We ended the day with a warm bath in the hotel room's bath tub, feeling very grateful for our safe flight and that we managed to get to all the places we wanted to go without a hitch. Praise God. 😊