Tuesday, March 26, 2013

South Korea Day 7: Cookin' Nanta

I first watched the performance 8 years ago when I first stepped foot into Korea. It was so hilarious that it has become one of the must do whenever friends asked me for recommendations for their Korea trips. Friends who took up the recommendation have all given their thumbs up for the performance. Needless to say, I wanted to spend some "Mummy Daughter Time" (as so put by my two darlings) during this trip so I put forth the proposal to the girls. We, the ladies, would go for the show while Daddy would have his own 'Me' time. The kids loved the idea, and so did Daddy.

The directional map and show timings for the 3 theatres in Seoul
There are 3 categories of tickets - Premium, S class and A class. Premium tickets would cost you 70,000won, S class (1st and 2nd floor) 50,000won and A class (2nd floor), 40,000won. We made reservation for Friday 5pm S class tickets (1st floor) on Wednesday, through Ibis Myeongdong Hotel where we were staying, and got 5% off  the ticket price. The children got a 20% discount off their tickets too. One thing to note, it is important to book your tickets early if you have a preferred day and time of performance. Depending on locations of theatres (Myeongdong, Chungjeongno and Hongdae), there can be 2 to 3 shows a day. We went to Myeongdong Nanta Theatre (3 shows - 2pm, 5pm, 8pm) which is only 5 minutes walk away from Ibis Myeongdong Hotel. We had wanted a Wednesday show but we could only get a Friday 5pm show. The rest were all fully booked!
We got to the theatre 20 minutes before 5pm to collect our tickets. There was a simple refreshment counter with simple pastries and drinks and another counter selling Cookin' Nanta T-shirts and accessories. We brought some drinks and entered the auditorium early so that the kids could adjust to the environment. The ushers were very diligent and brought extra cushions for the kids to elevate their seats. There were a number of children in the auditorium and it was a pleasure having them. They were so excited even before the show started and it was contagious. My kids reacted likewise as well.

Our apologies for capturing the faces in the photos.
It was so crowded that it was impossible to get a shot without anyone in them.

The cast that was in charge of entertaining us

Before the start of the show
To mark the start of the performance, a projector screen came on and greeted the audience in various languages. Besides telling them the basic theatre protocol such as the switching off of mobile phones and the routes for evacuation in case of emergency, they also got the comedy plot going…the cooking team had to prepare for a wedding dinner, with a new member – the manager’s nephew. The screen then got the audience to engage in cheering and clapping till the lights in the auditorium turned off. The performance started, for real.
We are ready!
What made Cookin’ Nanta captivating is that they were able to be in sync with one another, using whatever kitchen utensils they could get their hands on to cook up a musical storm. The heart-pumping rhythm got the audience grooving along in their seats too. In addition, they were able to keep the plot going, showing the kitchen’s initial unwillinging acceptance of the nephew, to the pressure of having to cook up the different dishes and to the eventual acceptance of the new kitchen crew. They did not forget to include the audience as well, getting members of the audience to try their cooking and even compete in dumpling making competition. In case you are wondering, they were really cooking on stage. Vegetables were flying and the fire was on. The smell of food filled the auditorium. How should I put it? It is a performance that catered to the five senses.
Rave reviews

The comedy aspect is simply awesome. They were just simple scenarios like a kitchen crew falling into the dustbin and having great difficulty getting out (even got a member of the audience to help him out) to the attempted killing of a huge (soft toy) duck but because of their simplicity, it was easy for the audience to relate to them. Even the children had a great time laughing. Children have this amazing talent to spread joy whenever they laugh. Hence, when the children in the audience laughed out loud to their hearts’content, without a care for the person sitting near them, it caused the audience to laugh even more. And because the show focuses a lot on sounds and actions, language barriers were removed. Everyone could enjoy themselves to the max.
The show ended after 90 minutes and even though it was cold outside, we left with light and cheerful hearts. The two girls are still telling everyone what they saw at the show till today. Conclusion: They want to watch it again. This time, they want Daddy to come along too.
Our very own Cookin' Nanta Chef

South Korea Day 6: Lotte World

The kids woke up early upon hearing that they would be going to an amusement park – Lotte World. This would be their first time to an amusement park. What they know is what they have read from books or seen from television programmes thus far. Nonetheless, they were excited and I, too, was excited to spend the day in a fantasy land. We arranged to meet Daddy at Jamsil Station Exit 4 as he was off early in the morning to Noryangin Fish Market. The kids were impatient when Daddy was late so I brought them to the entrance of Lotte World (a mere 5 minutes walk from Exit 4 through the underground shopping mall) and introduced to them the different characters in Lotte World. The two main characters for Lotte World are Lotty and Lorry and needless to say, they liked the female character better, Lorry.

The mytical foundation just at Jamsil Station Exit 4, outside Lotte Departmental Store.

When Daddy arrived, the kids were on cloud nine because it meant that they could finally go play!We kept our bags in the lockers provided just before the ticketing counters (near the toilets)  (1000won for 12 hours. To use, press ‘Lock’ and the screen will show you the numbers of the available lockers. Key in the one of your choice and insert the 1000won note. Put in your belonging and lock up. Be sure to keep the key safe. To open, just press ‘Open’ and key in your locker number. If you exceed the 12 hours, you would be asked to top up the charges.)

Admission charges for Lotte World are as follows – General Admission (without rides and theatres) 25000won. A special package ticket which includes all rides will cost up to 40000won. For a child, it works out to be 19000won and 33000won respectively. If you go after 4pm, it would cost more. We had wanted to get an adult general admission ticket, one adult special package ticket (so that one of us can ride with the kids if need be) and 2 children special package tickets but the ticketing staff informed us of a special promotion – 1 adult and 1 child special package ticket costs only 41000 so we got two instead. There is also an ice-skating rink inside Lotte World but you would need to get tickets separately. You can get 2000won off your ice-skating tickets if you show your Lotte World entrance tickets. Do remember to hold onto your tickets. You would be required to show your tickets before any rides.
Our 1 day special pass for one adult and one child

Once we walked up the escalator, the whole place opened up and so did the girls’ eyes and mouths. There were so many things going on at the same time – sky monorail, tea-cups, high flying balloons, parade – lots of sights and sounds to stimulate even the adults. The kids started giving directions, “Go here, go there!” The day was theirs so we let them take the lead – for once.
And we started our exploration...
Theme of Lotte World when we were there - Fantasy Mask

Children who were there early in the queue were able to mingle with the performers
Cinnamon Churros to keep us moving
In the sky monorail. We had wanted to take the Sky Balloons too but they were under maintanance

Crossing the skybridge to Magical Island, an outdoor play area with castles!
Our princesses
Ferris Wheel at Kiddie Land

Children under the age of 6 need to be accompanied by parents
Next up, Kiddie Pirate Ship

The assistants were all very friendly and took great care to ensure that the kids were safely secured.
But what was happening over there?
It was Daddy on the Swing Tree

The girls were cheering because Daddy was so brave!
We spent a while just looking at the brave souls "go up and come down" (as put by the girls).
I couldn't help but scream whenever they dropped.
Next up, a train ride. A was happy to be the train driver.

A number of the rides and admission are for older patrons so we kept to the safe kiddy rides. Admission into places like haunted house was not an option for us since we always watch what we put into our children. If you visit in winter, do note that not all rides are available, such as the Waikiki Wave. You wouldn't want to be in the winter cold riding the waves anyway. Even though it was cold in the Magical Island, the fun kept the cold at bay and we were able to enjoy ourselves thoroughly.

The nonchalent faces in the beginning
Not anymore for Mummy. She was screaming throughout the drop. Daughter was brave throughout.
A concert to calm the nerves
Peter Pan and Wizard of Oz's team work displayed in the performance
Cute little carts could be seen everywhere around Lotte World, selling Lotty and Lorry accessorries.
All girls band
With lots of pattern organizations to go with it!
Girls love their horses
Waitresses entertaining the children while we placed orders for lunch
Children under 4 need to be accompanied by parents
Our Little Driver
Knocked out after the many hours of play. Shopping for groceries at Lotte Mall

We checked out of Ibis Myeongdong that morning and checked into Novotel Gangnam which is nearer Jamsil. Lotte World has a hotel and they even have themed rooms for the children but as it was way of our budget, we chose another hotel. By the time we got to Novotel, everyone was drained and hungry. We opted for an early dinner so that everyone could have an early rest. 5 minutes from Novotel is a strip of restaurants known as the 'Gangnam Street', coined by the locals. It is just outside Exit 4 of Sinnonhyeon Station on Line 9. It was starting to get cold as night fell and we went into the first Korean barberque restaurant that we saw, just what we were looking for.

Searching for restaurant

Sheltered and warm, and ready to eat!

Sweet sliced onions

Steamed egg, comes free with the basic set. You can order more at additional cost.
At the restaurant, it was necessary that you order the basic set of meat (36000won) before you can order the other dishes like Kimchi Jigae (5000won). You can also top up the meat (pork neck or pork belly) and pay accordingly.

The best Kimchi Jigae we have eaten so far. We finished one in a jiffy and ordered another one.
We had to stop ourselves from ordering the third one!
Everyone was very hungry.
Here came the star for the dinner. A tong and a pair of scissors were provided.
You can cut the meat into smaller pieces so that they can cook faster.

Sizzling hot meat
Our table was so full of dishes that we had to use an empty table beside ours.

Thank you for such a lovely dinner. Miss the food already :p

The dinner costed us 54000 and that included all drinks and extra bowls of rice. Refills of side dishes are free in Korea so we had our fill too. An excellent way to finish the night of fun and play.