Chuseok, T&S Style

So, last post I told you a little about what it is like around Chuseok. Now, I would like to share what WE got up to during the break

We went to Lotte World!

Oh, we had so much fun! I felt like a kid! I was practically running one way and then another saying, ‘we can do this and then we can do that, and this, then that, and OH we have to do this, too!!!!’.

It is, apparently, the largest indoor amusement park in the world (I think Galaxy Land in West Edmonton Mall is next) but there is a whole other section outside! It was great.

One major plus was that we went on Chuseok which meant that it was empty. Don’t get me wrong, it was still busy, but relatively speaking, it was dead! We also got a huge discount because of the foreigner special they have over Chuseok (I would assume so they can draw in their most likely customers during the holiday). Normally, you would pay about $80 (CAD) for the two of us, but we ended up getting in for $30 (CAD)!!

The theme was Halloween and so there were decorations everywhere.

There was also a parade with floats, actors, mascots and dancers. Their costumes all had lights, it was pretty cool as far as a parade goes.

We went on a lot of rides because the lines were really not that long. This was our favourite.

I loved it because 1. it was a roller-coaster… obviously my favourite. 2. something new for me was that it came to a stop halfway through the ride then started up another big hill and continued on with the excitement. It was great! It made it feel like two separate rides. The excitement/fear built again as you went up another hill! and yet somehow it didn’t slow down the experience, just gave you a pause for breath. Nicely done Lotte World.

Speaking of which, I should make a quick note about the name of the place. Lotte is a company that has their fingers in many things in Korea. There is the grocery/department store, a McDonald’s type chain called Lotteria, as well as sports teams and food manufacturers. A BIG conglomerate company in South Korea. Check out the ridiculousness of their reach here. Anyways, this is one of many of their projects.

Finally, I should mention that we stayed at Lotte Hotel World, a very snazzy hotel that normally we could never afford! But, again, there were ridiculous deals to be found on-line so we decided to give it a shot. Oh my was it nice. (Only the Four Seasons in Amman, Jordan tops this on my scales! But that’s a whole other story!) I was amazed by the interesting in-room options they provided:

In the drawer by the bed you will find a New Testament (pretty standard in Canada), The Teaching of Buddha (very cool to see), and The Sorrows of Young Werther (what the? what? they give you boring literature to read so you can fall asleep?) which includes a story of where the name Lotte comes from. Lastly, you can see a Pillow Menu. That’s right. You can choose from over 15 different types of pillows. All for your comfort.

For all your business needs! Need paper clips? a highlighter? a stapler? staples for your stapler? Lotte Hotel World has your needs covered!
What’s that? you need a phone while in town? Pick it up off the charger and you are ready to go. All incoming local calls are free.

All in all, we had a great time. It was fun to feel like a kid as well as to get some good relaxation in!

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Around Seoul: Dog and Cat Cafés

When you walk in all the dogs go nuts! They investigate and then go back to lying around or being pet.

On our way back to Osan from Hiroshima, we stopped in 홍대 Hongdae, an area in Seoul. They have a big university there so it has a very campus-y feel to it with lots of coffee shops (soooo many), and bars and little boutique style clothing stores. It reminded us a lot of the Strathcona/University area of Edmonton where we are from.

One reason we were attracted to the area: the animal cafes. Here you can visit a coffee shop where dogs and (in separate locations) cats lounge around. You can pet them, play with them, or simply exist in their presence; all of which Sandy and I needed.

Hairy legs AND nail polish? Who is that?

It’s tough not being able to have an animal when you want one and apparently this is the niche market that these cafés appeal to. If you do have a pet, you can bring them to the locations and have them socialize with other animals. I have even heard that there are some cafés that act as doggie daycares in that you leave your pet with them and they will take of it and there will be people to play and hang out with them, too.

Notice the shelves and cat walks (ha, literally) where the cats are free to roam and, if need be, get away from all the people.

The cafés we went to seemed to have animals owned by the place. They were all well taken care of with nice hair cuts and clean, brushed fur. My only concern was that the dogs seemed a little dehydrated as I didn’t see water dishes around and they all got very excited at my glass of water. Maybe they limit the water intake to limit the pee on the floor??

He was friendly and adorable. I want one!

Speaking of which, the dogs were somewhat trained to go poop and pee in one area off to the side but it wasn’t quite perfect. But, the staff kept the place clean with mops and while it did smell overwhelmingly like dog, it didn’t smell like a doggie bathroom. As for the cats, I can only assume that they had litter boxes out of sight.

At the dog café, when you were ready to go you gave your bill to the golden retriever and it would bring it up to the front, put his big paws up on a half door and give it to the woman who worked the register! So cute!


Pass him the bill and he will bring it up to the front!

Canada Day!

Well, this comes a little late doesn’t it? Well, let’s just say I am posting this in light of the patriotism one may feel during the Olympics… yeah…

We headed into Seoul on the Saturday before Canada Day to celebrate with some fellow Canadians. We went to the foreigner district called Itaewon. We wanted to celebrate in true Canadian style: with other Canadians and with some Canadian beverages and food!

We went to Rocky Mountain Tavern, a Canadian themed bar.

It really has the feel of a Canadian pub like Hudsons. It was dimly lit, had a bunch of sports and Canada stuff on the walls, had good beer on tap and familiar food on the menu. To Sandy’s delight, they played TSN on every TV. It was funny, but also very necessary, how explicit they were when it came to the ingredients of their Caesars!

Sandy had to investigate.

They had 4 live bands that night. Two were tribute bands: one for Great Big Sea and the other for The Tragically Hip. It was a blast!

Next we went to Gold Bar. A quirky place nearby. I will leave you with a few pics. (I apologize for the quality of all these photos, my camera does not do well without perfect light!)

Happy (very belated) Canada Day Everyone!

경복궁 Gyeongbokgung Palace

Set on seeing a little more traditional architecture a few weekends ago we set off for Gyeongbokgung Palace. In Northern Seoul, these nicely kept sites are surrounded by trees and walking paths. Very beautiful. Here are some pictures.

Im such a sucker for the painted adornment on the inside and outside of the buildings. I love that torquoise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were intrigued by the figures atop of many buildings but are still unsure of their significance.

 

Finally, there was a section of white washed buildings with no painted detailing.

In this section we saw an example of the first ondol systems.

It was great to explore the buildings. I think this trip has fulfilled my quota of taking pictures of traditional buildings, however, and I think Sandy is glad for it.

청계천 Cheonggyecheon

In downtown Seoul, there runs a large stream that was once covered in concrete but has since been revitalised into a park. It is really gorgeous and such a unique juxtaposition of city and natural settings. As you can read in Wikipedia, there was hesitancy among many inhabitants of Seoul for the project but the place has since become popular among locals and tourists. I am thankful for the project. It was really wonderful.

They had some features from Buddha’s birthday festivities still up so we were able to see those too.

On the walls there were tiles depicting an emense royal procession.

Aside from the quick downturn in the weather – it went from clear sky to dark black with rain in the matter of 30 min – it was a wonderful walk in downtown Seoul.

 

Seoul Lantern Festival

May 28th was Buddha’s birthday which was celebrated by a 3+ day festival in Seoul and many other places around the world. We were happy to go into Seoul for the lantern parade. Because of the limitations of our camera, most of my photos turned out blurry but I did get a few. Here are some snippets of our day.

Headed in on the subway around 4 and stopped for some street food.

That was some delicious Spam-like meat-ish slice with cabbage, a bbq-ish sauce and mustard sandwich. Tasty! For all you grimacing, I will tell you that Spam is quite popular here as it is in many countries who survived on it during a recent war. When in Osan you gotta try it, right?!

Next was to check out the pre-parade situation. Found lots of chairs but knew those would go fast. We had no problem with standing so we walked around looking at more street food and stopped at this little place:

Had nice frosty drinks and very friendly atmosphere.

Back to the parade route we saw a police band playing and shortly after, the parade started! It was beautiful. Many, many, MANY lanterns filled the streets. Bands performing traditional music. Big floats with images of Buddha and other religious symbols. It was very beautiful!

 

After the parade we had our first ‘soju tent’ experience. Soju tents are these tarp and stove top restaurants that line the streets selling street food. There are sometimes plastic tables and chairs, sometimes simply crates, inside the tent. A nice woman waved us in and took me by the hand up to her display of fresh seafood etc. I pointed to some squid and some skewers that looked like beef. She sent me back to our table and went to work. She brought us some food that was pretty half decent!

Can’t really complain. Though I was disappointed because the beef turned out to be some sort of (cow?) organ meat (kidney?). Organ meat is not really my thing… at all. Luckily, Sandy liked it! (as he did the beef intestine that we accidently ordered, but that’s another story).

We caught one of the last trains back to Osan but only 5 or six stops the train stopped and everyone got off. The subway was closing for the night! Instead of the trains finishing their routes, they just stop wherever they are at a certain time and kick everyone off. Okie dokie. Off to find a taxi. $50 later we are back in Osan (it was an hour trip so $50 is pretty good, I’d say!).

A great occasion!