Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Seoul in Winter (Day 9: Seoulland)

A friend of ours helped us get discounted tickets for Seoulland via an online promotion but the conditions were that we could only enter after 12 noon. This gave us more time to sleep in and take our time to return to Seoul Grand Park having visited Seoul Zoo just a few days ago. We initially weren't sure about visiting Seoulland, but after finding out about the discounted rates we were eager to visit it.

We arrive at the Sky-lift after a five-minute walk from Seoul Grand Park station, and despite the noonday sunshine, it was just above freezing.

Last time we visited we took the Elephant Train to the zoo. This time, the girls convinced us to try the Sky-lift instead. Daddy and Mummy were apprehensive because it was too cold to be way up there, but in the end we relented and booked a one-way ticket up (KRW 5,500 per adult; 3,500 per child). There were no regrets. It turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip, and although it never went very high, it was still a view they would not forget for a long time.

Mummy gets tickets for the Sky-lift. 

Up and away we gooooooo... ... !

Panaromic view from the Sky-lift

Note the safety net below throughout the journey. We spotted some squirrels scampering on it.

We spotted an Elephant Train on the bridge, and are sure glad we are up here instead of down there.

That's where we want to go - Seoulland!

After alighting from the Sky-lift, Seoulland was still a three minute walk away. The Elephant train would have stopped us right outside Seoulland, but we did not mind the short relaxing walk.

Finally made it to Seoulland!

When we arrived, we noticed a list of promotions for credit cards that would have gotten us just as good a deal without the afternoon restriction.

We got our tickets after presenting the e-coupon on our mobile phone.

We felt so fortunate that the the amusement park had only a few teenage visitors and most of the rides they were interested in were too advanced for the girls. As a result, many of our choices had no queues, and we had most of the rides entirely to ourselves. Perhaps this is because the school holidays for the younger children had not yet begun, and this was a weekday afternoon. Whatever the case, this meant that today's outing was an opportunity to try everything we wanted, and even go multiple rides on our favourites.

Seoulland has a wide variety of rides and shows catering to all age ranges, from the humble carousels to the massive double looping roller coasters. Not all the rides were opened fully, but there were more than enough for the half day we had left. We were wary that based on the forecast, the temperature was going to fall drastically after 4 pm, and moved as quickly as we could to complete at least one entire circuit. However, the desire to repeat the rides they loved made us move along at an incredibly slow pace. We made it in the end with some time to spare, but not without lots of nudging and encouraging them that we 'still hadn't seen what else' there was.

Here's a sample of some of the rides we enjoyed for the girls (age 7 & 9). For a complete list and descriptions of the attractions, visit the website HERE They're not exactly intense and on the relaxing side, but there's a good mix of carousels and kiddo coasters. Enjoy!

Tikitoc Train - only the older girl met the height requirement for this coaster, but it was a quick favourite and this meant a few more attempts at this for her.

Sky Cycle is upstairs, and Bumper Cars below. Only the older girl met the height requirement, and Mummy decided to go along!
There was a patch of dry leaves that the girl found and she had fun kicking it around.

Coming round on the Sky-Cycle. Mummy hardly helped out with the cycling, and the older girl was really tired after having done all the work.

There was a circus carousel that was quite a hit, and the girls had a few goes at it, choosing different animals each time.

Peter Pan - a simple undulating coaster that glides quite quickly.

Mummy also enjoying the ride!

There was this carousel where the cubicles were free to rotate so that the riders went fully upside down. Good thing we had this before our meal.

We had a late breakfast but the bitter cold called for some hot food. There were so many little snack kiosks, cafes and restaurants around we did not bother to photograph them all, but we settled for some local dishes. Although they were not cheap, they were pretty good portions and it warmed us up really well.

Spicy seafood soup (jjamppong). 

Black bean noodles (jjajangmyun)


Cheese pork cutlet with rice.

So we've refueled and it's time for more rides. Since our tummies were full, we decided to spend a little time at the Fantasy Land Action Zone, a giant playground with things to slide and climb (and nothing that goes upside down).

The ball-pool is only for kids below six, we we could not give it a go.

Climbing nets only for kids above six years old. Not physically demanding, but nerve-wrecking for those scared of heights!

There were some high elements that require nerves of steel.

Simple maze.

After we had some time for the food to digest, it was time to carry on with our attempt to complete a circuit around the park.

Larva Twister - one ride led to another, and another and another... it helped that there was no queue and it matched the intensity and excitement of the older girl.

Riders do not have control of whether the carriages go up or down. It is controlled centrally by the machine.

Kartrider-Bumper - Family fun for all ages.

Musical Carousel - sit in giant musical instruments and go round. Simple and relaxing.

More mini roller coasters... ...

Rock Cafe - seems like an ordinary carousell until... ...

... ... it unexpectedly reverses direction and ... ...

... ... covers you up with a blanket? 

Zeppelin - easy flying!

Kambu Airplane

By 4.30 pm, the temperature was dropping quickly to almost freezing, and having finally completed a walk round back to the entrance, we gave the girls their final chances to have final rides of their favourites before leaving. To return to the subway, we bought tickets for the Elephant Train shuttle. By now, the kids were feeling the chills and we agreed to buy back our dinners to enjoy in the warm room.

Instead of changing rail lines the way we came, we took the line directly back to Myeongdong station and walked back toward the hotel. On the way, Mummy picked up fried chicken from an outlet we wanted to try - Chicken 678 Myeongdong.

We got a mix of original and spicy flavours.

We took a while to thaw from the chills today and turned up the room heating. We were even convinced that considering tomorrow's chilly forecast, we would change our outdoor plans and laze around in Myeongdong instead. Perhaps tomorrow will be another sleep in day? Unless we wanted to catch the snowfall forecasted for 4 am ... ...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Seoul in Winter (Day 7: Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Myeongdong Dog Cafe)

We arranged to meet a friend at 10 am at another one of Mummy's objectives for this trip: the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). The DDP is an entire complex dedicated to design innovation and entrepreneurship. There are a few buildings and halls that mesh together recreation, showcase and retail celebrating the innovative culture of Korea. Mummy was at DDP before but figured the girls would be interested in the cute products sold there.

We alighted at Dongdaemun History and Culture Park subway station, headed to exit 1 (which links to DDP) before linking up with our friend with whom Mummy had a movie appointment with after lunch. It was going to be a quick browse around the DPP, and we decided to focus on only the exhibits that were free, starting with the Museum. It is divided into into two galleries otherwise known as 'Design Pathways'. When we arrived, we found only one of the galleries opened featuring both aesthetic and practical uses for recycled materials.

We are greeted by the Museum shop and had a quick browse around.

There is a craft section for kids to use a selection of materials to design a wooden card... ....

... .... which will be hung up on a display board as part of the exhibition.

The kids get a quick lesson on how recycled plastic is refined and prepared to be useful materials.

As we walk along the hallway, we begin at the second floor and walk down to the first floor.

Practical uses for recycled materials.

We observe a large mechanical moving sculpture made completely of recycled materials.

Accessories and such.

The upper gallery had a paid workshop cum exhibition for children about automation. We could see the children being brought around in groups, and samples of their work hanging inside the gallery. Walking on, we chanced upon a small lounge area with outrageous jewellery designs and had a quick browse. The items appeared priceless, and the staff minding the exhibit looked nervous when he saw we had active children with us.

On the roof of the museum building was a large open garden roof that overlooked the neighbouring buildings. It looked like a nice place for photos on a clear day. Today though, it was too cold.

The exhibit was captioned 'The Future of Italian Jewellery'.

We hopped over to a neighbouring building where we found the Design Market and Design Labs. It appeared to us like a fusion between IKEA and the science-centre. Amidst the various booths and stalls are items for sale and services offered that will allow you to take home with you a unique creation.

The ground floor has a collection of fashion, accessories and even custom made toys

The second floor of the Design Market has more stuff, mainly dedicated to home furnishing.

Mummy browses some high-end fashion labels.

Kids tried out this waterproof pencil and paper.

It writes even under a steady flow of water! Rain or shine! 

There is a 3D lab where you have your very own 3D figurine of yourself made. The initial step involves stepping into a myriad of cameras that will take photographs of you from all angles.

The result is a colour-printed 3D figurine. There are packages that do it for the entire family. You can tell from the labels that they are not cheap at all!

We found a lab that specialises in virtual reality, and for a few dollars you can don virtual reality goggles and play video games or go on 4D horse rides.

We had a chance to see a participant play one of the video games.

The exhibit-shopping experience is not complete without a number of hip cafes that appear in themselves just as unique and innovative. Here are some of them:

This is a simple canteen offering a place for tired legs to just sit down for a while.

On our way out of the building, we found a drop-in area for kids to play around while their parents explore the complex. They charge an entry fee, and inside appears to be innovation-related props.

We left DDP to fulfill Mummy's craving for Kyochon fried chicken and our host knew exactly which outlet at Dongdaemun to head for. We ordered a salad and a Honey combo and a Soy-Garlic combo. It's also only about the only time of the year we have a mug of beer.

We had a great time with our friend and it was time for Daddy and the kids to leave Mummy who was going to catch a movie. Movies are not the kids' cup of tea, and we decided to spend the time at the Dog Cafe instead. Daddy took the girls back to Myeongdong and we finally arrived at the cafe after 2 pm. It was the same cafe we visited during our last trip, and although we were familiar with the place, it took us a while to find it.

We could not read the signs, but finally spotted this banner hanging outside the building.

Here we go!

Entry fees are 8000 won per child and 9000 per adult, and each visitor gets a complimentary drink. They had an English speaking staff to brief us about the expectations of visitors in the cafe. Shouting and running were not allowed, and there were a handful of temperamental dogs that should not be touched.

The girls were initially nervous and took some time to warm up to the dogs. It did not take long for them to make their move, and before we knew it, the animal loving girls were having the highlight of the trip so far. Compared to our last visit, Daddy found the dogs much better behave this time. Although there were the occasional pee puddles, they were were far less often and the staff did a good job of cleaning up each time. For a write-up on of our previous visit to the cafe, click HERE.

The dogs get excited around the cafe staff.

Reaching out to the gentle giants.

Kids drape a blanket on their laps to invite the dogs to cuddle up.

After over three hours, the girls were still so engrossed that they requested for more time. By now, Mummy's movie was over and she was going to meet Daddy and the girls for dinner. WiFi was available at the cafe and we could message Mummy to extend the time a little. We bade our slow goodbyes to the dogs before 6 pm and prepared to link up with Mummy.

On our way out, we found ourselves on the big-screen billboard!

We found this dumpling noodle restaurant nearby that was packed till overflowing the night before. Tonight though, we beat the dinner crowd and decided to give it a try. It turned out to be to our liking. There were not many options aside from a the usual noodle and dumpling dishes, but it was just what the kids and the parents wanted. A bowl of cold noodles, and bowl of dumpling noodle soup and ten signature meat and vegetable dumplings later, we were all very satisfied.

Satisfied we were, but there is always room for desert, and right outside was a candyfloss man in the right place at the right time. This vendor was also an artist, and he was able to turn the candyfloss into all sorts of cartoon characters!

Tomorrow is a new day and there were new friends to catch up with Korean friends from Singapore who have come back here for the holidays. We planned to spend the morning at Kidzania and fortunately for us, our friends have gotten special promotion tickets to make our time worthwhile.

Despite getting back to the room early, we took a while to settle into bed after lots of family screen time catching Korean documentaries on what else? Dogs of course. We know what the girls will be dreaming of tonight!