Everland

Everland (notice the similarity with “Disneyland”) is the biggest theme park in South Korea. Despite its age (it has been opened since 1976), every summer it still attracts masses of Koreans willing to get away from Seoul and spend a fun day.

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The entrance to the park reminds that of any Disneyland.

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What I liked the most of this park is that it is in the middle of the mountains, with attractions mixing with the trees. The park is so huge that you have to take a chairlift to go from one area to another. The rollercoaster in the background is one of the most recent attractions (it opened in 2008). It is made of wood and has one of the steepest freefalls in the world (you can see some pictures from when they were building it here). Unfortunately (or luckily) I couldn’t ride it, as it was closed because of the rain.

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One of the few attractions that we could ride was the “Safari World”, or “사파리 월드”, as they write it in Korean.

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Basically, they get you on a bus and take you on a tour in a “Jurassic Park” style.

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In Safari World, animals (bears, tigers, lions, jabalis… what you can usually find in a zoo) are more or less in liberty, although as you can see they are quite far from being wild animals. This is that this poor bear had to do to get some cookies from the bus driver.

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This tiger on the other hand, decided to forget about the cookies and take a nap instead.

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These kind of giant rats are coaties. They had them walking on these bridges that went over the path that people followed.

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This is the most similar to a roller coaster I could ride… 🙁

Caribbean Bay

Caribbean Bay is probably one of the biggest water parks in the world, covering an area of 46 square miles (according to the wikipedia). It is also part of Everland, the biggest attraction park in South Korea, although you have to buy both entrance tickets separately. Caribbean Bay is located in Gyeonggi-do province, at around one hour and a half drive from Seoul. Given that I got tickets for the park for a reasonable price, 10,000 KRW (around $8) instead of the 55,000 KRW ($44) that you have to pay to enter this park during peak season, we took this chance and spent the day there, despite the weather not being so nice.

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The funniest thing for a foreigner that goes to a Korean water park (or beach, swimming pool, etc.) is probably the way Koreans (specially girls) dress for this kind of occasion. Interestingly enough, you can’t see a single bikini. Well, actually they do wear them, but they are hidden underneath those long sleeve t-shirts (to protect from the sunlight, as tanned bodies are not fashionable at all here) and mini-skirts or short pants, of course everything fitting together perfectly. It is also important to make use of a cup and/or sunglasses to protect you face from the evil and cancerogenic sun. Another important detail are your toe nails. Yes girls, your toe nails have to be perfectly pedicured, and if possible, also matching your bikini.

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These bay-watches are there just to watch that nobody stands on the area where waves break, and that nobody without a life-jacket goes into the deep area of the swimming pool. The life-jacket thing makes sense specially if you consider that this pool can get really, really crowded, and also that most Korean can’t swim.

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Jiwon completly scared thinking of what’s coming…

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And here you go!! Luckily she was protected with her cup, her life-jacket, and her t-shirt anti-sun.

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And here I am like a king-of-waves in front of the Korean people. The water you see doesn’t go downwards, but upwards, allowing you to stay (not without much suffering and equilibrium) in a quite static position on the bodyboard. Wow! So stylish! So cool!… So ashamed when I fell of after half a second in that position!

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Even on a rainy day, early in the morning, you have to wait quite long lines to get to the attractions. This is what we had to wait before enjoying the boomerango.

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Besides the outdoor area, there is also a quite large indoor area. Its perfect for babies and the rainy days of Korean summer.

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And another view of the indoor area.

Petite France in Korea

Yes, in the Gapyeong County (province of Gyeonggi-do), at about two hours from Seoul, there is a “Little France” in Korea. We went there with my coworker. To tell the truth, I was a little disappointed with this place. First, when I heard “Petite France” I thought of a neighborhood with lots of French restaurants, French people… like a little China, little India or those places that you can find in some big cities. It wasn’t like that at all. To get in this place, you have to pay 8,000 KRW (around $6), and there isn’t really that much to see. Anyway, here are some pictures that we took so that you can judge for yourself.

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The entrance to the little village.

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This is one of the nicest places. This plaza with its fountain and everything was perfect for having a cup of coffee and feeling like being in Europe for a while.

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In some houses, the had also little exhibitions, like this one, devoted to French marionettes.

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Would you say this is Korea?

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Another view of the village in the middle of Gyeonggi-do mountains.

Yeoju Ceramics Festival

Some weeks ago we went to a county called Yeoju. It’s located in Gyeonggi-do, the province that surrounds Seoul. Yeoju is mostly know for its ceramics. And the reason to go there was the Yeoju Ceramics Festival, that takes place every year and was being held at that moment. Here you have some pictures of the event.

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A sample of what you can see at the festival. All kinds of ceramics from tea cups to object I couldn’t even tell what they are…

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One of the activities that you can do is ceramic painting. You can choose the object you want to paint and after paining it, they will finish the work (it has to be in an oven for some hours) and send it to your home for 10,000 KRW.

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Right next to where the festival was being held, there is the Buddhist temple (called Silleuksa Temple). As Buddha’s birthday was close, it was decorated with lots of lotus lanterns. You can see this decoration at many temples and typical streets of Korea when Buddha’s birthday is close.

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Another nice view of the decoration.

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Children were also having a good time and taking pictures with their cellphones. It’s interesting that in Korea cellphones seem to have replaced compact cameras. People who really like taking pictures use reflex cameras. Those who really don’t care, just use their cellphones, which at daylight can get a very similar quality than that of compact cameras.

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This buddha is what that child was taking a picture of.

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The festival poster was flying in the air like this.

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And of course, the mandatory group picture.

Trip to Nami Island

Nami Island (Namiseom, 남이섬) is a Korean island on the river Bukhan (Bukhangang, 복한강) on the border between Gyeonggi-do and Gangwon-do (approximately one hour and a half drive from Seoul). Although this place is very popular among Koreans, and can be seen in most Korean dramas (specially in romantic scenes where the boy declares his love to the girl), it’s not usually visited by foreign tourists.

The island is small, but quite pretty, perfect to relax for a while and spend the afternoon walking around a beautiful scenery. Now there is a shuttle bus that goes directly from Insadong to Namiseom for around 15,000 KRW the round-trip (more info here), a bit expensive, but probably the most convinient way to get there for tourists, as it is not easy to get there by conventional bus or train (for instructions, check here).

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The red star is where the island is located.


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With Jiwon, taking the ferry that took us to the island.

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They sell all kinds of Korean souvenirs, from mirrors (a must-have accessory for any Korean woman) to musical instruments.

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In the island you can also see performing shows. I really liked this one in which the artists mixed traditional Korean instruments and dance with modern techniques and styles.

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One of the funniest restrooms I’ve ever seen. The walls were made out of soju bottles which had been previously melted down to make them flat.

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These is one of the spots that always appears in Korean dramas. The trees change according to the season of the year (winter is not the prettiest one).

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Another nice view of the montains surrounding the island.