Sunday, August 29, 2010

Trip to the 63 City and Random Wondering

Well I guess it's time for an update seeing as how we have been on more adventures yet the blog has not seen any more action.

To start off a few Saturdays (8/21) ago we decided to head up to Seoul again; however this time we had somewhat of a plan. We bought tickets the weekend before so we had seats on the trains; however we were crowed with people who didn't have seats.  I don't know if maybe they thought the closer they stood to us that our whiteness would rub off on them or something but it was quite uncomfortable to have someones butt in our faces. It is times like this when I wish I knew Korean so that I could ask things like:
  • Why does Korail not just add one more train car?
  • Why is there never any toilet paper in the bathroom but at ever restaurant it's on the table as napkins?
  • Kimchi is great but is it really the best form of body odder control they have here?
  • How do you make Kimchi?  (I'll miss it when I leave here)
  • Where does baby corn come from? (Ryan has made me stop asking our friends this one)
  • How do women walk in high heals all day rain or shine everywhere they go?
  • Why recycle everything but then litter the streets?
And many other things I cant help but wonder about.

Anyways back on topic, once at Seoul Station we headed down to the metro and took off trying to find our way back to the Han River to check out 63 City. We successfully got there on our first try making us quite confidant that the day was going to be a good one. Sadly I always get turned around on the subway or go way off track, Ryan has to let me feel like I am leading but drop hints and keep us on track. Once there we had a short walk down to 63 City. 
63 City from the Han River Boat Tour a few weeks ealyer.
The 63 City building over looks the Han River and at 249 meters (817 feet) high it was the tallest building outside of North American when they finished it in 1985; however now it is not even in the top 100.  Until 2003 it was South Korea's tallest building till they complied the Hyperion Tower at 256 meters (840 feet) high and 69 stores as residential housing.  The 63 City building was still the tallest commercial building until the Northeast Asia Trade Tower was completed in 2009 at 305 meters (1001 feet) high and 68 floors.
Ok sorry I try to add some facts every now and then kind of like adding the bologna to the sandwich.
Once inside we were shocked to see that the place was packed; online they made it seem like an out of date place that was full of attractions but not that popular anymore due to new things arriving in Seoul. Sadly it was as Ryan would say "butt to nut" in some areas, but we pushed our way through to get tickets and start exploring. At this point I was still extremely excited and full of hope that it would be as cool as I had read it was, online it said they had a "SeaWorld" aquarium, a "63 Hollywood Wax Museum", a "Sky Art Gallery" (an art museum that boast being the worlds tallest), and an Imax theater (that is calmed to be the largest in Korea).
As we stood in line we noticed that a year pass was only twice the price of the Big 4. I pointed out that we only live 50 minutes outside of Seoul and are there sadly twice a month lately. Ryan was having doubts and talked me into checking it out first and then thinking about a year pass; I have to say I am thankful he had this strange feeling and talked me out of it.  It was cool but not as my brother would say the "cat's ass".
With Big 4 tickets in hand we "battled" our way over to the wax museum where we had a good time. They had a lot of famous Asian people I didn't know, they had Abraham Lincoln, and then they had Obama. I fear that all the Koreans looked at us like we were crazy because we just skipped right past Obama without a second glance. They had all kinds of old composers and musicians and artist, they had movie stars, sports stars, they even had a wax Last Supper that sparked quite a conversation because of how they had them set up, and  I also find it odd that Van Gogh still had both his ears.   Towards the end they had a haunted area that I made Ryan go in first to make sure everyone was really wax before I would go in. Some of the wax people were good and some not so much, they had some just normal looking people standing around everywhere that looked like tourist. Sadly I feel like this is why when I was waiting for Ryan to come back out of the haunted area I was leaning on the wall only to scare a girl when I went to move, I couldn't help but laugh.
A few pictures from the wax museum.

Why yes that is a wax Jesus.

On weekdays they will even put you next to Jesus.

Put your face on the Won.  Sadly I don't think my head was big enough.

Look I'm wax me!

On the way out of the wax museum there was a 5D attraction that you could see for 1,000 Won or about 85 cents.  It was really cute, you sat in the middle of a cirlce shaped room and there were screens all around.  They gave you 3D glasses and took you through a short adventure from the ocean where sharks attached, to the north pole, to back in time to where diansores are flying at your head from every angle.  Over all it was fun and different. 
Next we moved on to the Imax to see "Wild Oceans" in 3D. The movie itself was pretty good it was about Africa and the anchovy run that they have every year and how everything it affects and how it has been changing over time with the oceans warming up. I learned a lot and call me a dork but I like documentary like movies, even more so when they jump off the screen at you. My only complaint is this "Imax" was not an Imax at all, I mean I have always thought that an Imax was a screen that went above and beyond around the room to the ceiling and everywhere. Sadly this was just a big screen and I worry that maybe it was lost in translation when they were building this "Imax" and just heard big screen. Sadly afterwards we also joked they had the seats so close together that we felt like anchovies.
Rocking the 3D glasses. Times like this I swear Ryan thinks I have lost it.
After the movie we made our way over to the "SeaWorld Aquarium" that was very entertaining and cute however very packed. It was to the point where you wonder if they don't have any fire codes in Korea. They had penguins that you could walk right up to because the glass only went half way up and there was no net or anything keeping you from touching them other than a sign that, from what I gathered, warned that they bite. Then next to them they had big king penguins that were enclosed but you could still feel like they were swimming right up to you as they tried endlessly to swim through the glass.

King Penguins
We then got to see most things you would see in any aquarium, giant Japanese crabs, many different kinds of fish, they had an area where you could walk out on the glass and feel like you were standing over a stream, they had many different shows that went on throughout they day and some very interesting animal exhibits.

Glass floor over the river.
One of the ones that stood out were the otters who had tunnels that went out in to the room where they could run around and you could be right up close to them; however as always the otters were sleeping when I got to them.
They also had a really neat sea lion area where they had an underground playground complete with a slide, swings, and basketball hoop; I am sure the show they put on is quite a good one.

I really want to know how they sit on the swings.
As we made our way through the crowd I was a little upset that we didn't get to see more of it, take pictures, or get up close to most of the stuff because it was just so packed. As we were trying to make our way through and not push the people ahead of us, we were being shoved from behind with baby strollers or kids. I don't know if it is worse than the states but people here just seem to not care if they are running over your foot or if the only way out is through the exit that everyone is blocking as they wait for a show to start. I just wonder if at home it doesn't seem as bad because you can tell/ask people to move and they understand you.
Once out of the aquarium we had one attraction left to see before we could "escape" the madness. We made our way back and forth a few times trying to find out just where you have to be to get on the elevator to get to the 63rd floor (60th above ground) to see the "Sky Art Gallery". The lines for this were not that bad; however you get crammed into an elevator with as many people that will fit with a glass window over looking the Han River and sent up at what seems to be the slowest pace ever. Minus the cramped space and long ride I liked the view and thought it was rather neat; poor Ryan on the other hand not so much.
Once at the top I would have to say it may of been on of my favorite parts of the day. The views were great and the art wasn't that bad either. They had lots of Asian art and none of the information about it was in English so that was both good and bad.  Bad because we had no clue what it was, or why it was, or who it was by; but good because well I felt I got to use my imagination and think of what is was, and why it was that way.

Some pictures from "Sky Art"

 They had an area that was supposed to make you feel like you were standing on a glass bottom floor; however it was a room of mirrors and Windows that gave it the feel of standing on a glass bottom floor. I found it funny that on the way in there was a picture of a stick person in a dress doing the Marilyn Monroe thing as she tried to hold it down; I took this as a warning for women in dresses not to go in because well everyone would be seeing your undies. I found the room very cool and spent a few minutes examining all the merios and how it work, at the same time I wondered why they just didn't do a room with a glass or glass like floor. All in all I felt like this part of 63 City had not been talked up enough because it was great.
Trying to get one of us both looking; didn't work out to great.

Inside the "glass" box.

Once back down and ready to head out we stopped into a soap store that had every kind of soap I think I could ever think of. They had it in different flavors, scents, shapes, sizes and colors. At first I thought it was a cheese store with all the big stacks of round colorful shapes in the window; but soap was just as neat. We spent a few minutes sniffing them all and trying to make out what they all were. We thought about buying some but could not pick out any due to not know what was for what. Was if for your feet? Was it for your face? Was it for your hair? Was it for you dog? We really just didn't know.

A few more from "Sky Art" as we weighted in line to head down.

We then headed out to look for the Cheonggyecheon Stream. On the way back to the subway line we decided that seeing as how we have no earthly idea where the stream is that maybe we would be better off with a taxi. So we jumped in a taxi and showed him the picture then after about ten minutes of going back and forth in broken English and Korean we finally were off in what we hoped to be the right direction. We had a nice ride through what seemed to be a very busy part of town that had a whole block that just sold fans, another that sold PlayStation's, another that sold lights and so on.
On the way we passed back by Seoul Station making it so that we now had our bearings as he pointed out that up ahead was City Hall. City Hall in Korea looks nothing like you would guess one to look like, it was quite colorful and not dull and government like at all.  The outer walls were decorated in what looked like giant flip phones with life size pictures of people on them holding their hands out so that it looked like they were all holding hands.  I really liked it and found it to be an interesting design that said so much without having to say anything at all.

Above: City Hall

Below: Closer shot of City Hall

Once we made our way to the Cheonggyecheon Stream it was so different from what I had ever pictured. The stream runs 6km (about 3.7 miles) through downtown Seoul. The stream was originally formed for drainage for the city during the Joseon Dynasty; however as time passed and more people moved into the area it was paved over to make way for the transportation infranstructer. It was recently renovated starting in 2003 and finishing in 2005, untell the renovation the stream had almost dried up. The renovation was part of a urban renual project and costed $281 million and gained much criticism; however once done it has became a popular place for locals and tourist alone. Along the stream you can now see many fountains, sculptures, murals and art.
Sorry back to the topic I get dorky sometimes with that sort of thing.
We walked around for a bit and then started to look for lunch/dinner. On the way we found a really nice big bookstore I was even lucky enough to find some books in English, I was so giddy Ryan thought I was crazy. However a few minutes later he found a few Lonely Planet books on sale so he was just as happy. After walking around a bit and loading our book bag down with books we headed out to search out food again. Sadly all we found at the time was McDonald's or Mr. Pizza so we went with Mr. Pizza.

After dinner we went out and looked at the horse drawn carriages they have that will take you around the area. Sadly the horses didn't seem to healthy and kind of killed the mood for a cute horse carriage ride.

See what I mean? Poor guy doesn't look too healthy.

They were all covered in lights.
The sun was starting to set and we decided to head out to find the Deoksugng Palace (Princess's Palace) and the Changgyeonggune Palace (Queen's Palace). After a short walk down what seemed to be the main street we came across the Changgyeonggune Palace right as the sun was setting behind the mountains. Sadly had there not been a major traffic intersection right in front of it it would of been an amazing sight.

Changgyeonggune Palace

We later made our way down to City Hall again where they were holding some sort of concert out front. Wishing again that I had the discipline to learn Korea as we spent a few minuets watching.  After starting off again we stumbled on to the Deoksugng Palace, which lead to me being happy and excited as we now know how to get to these places when mom and dad come and all by accident!  We also passed by some amazing looking restaurants that I would of loved instates of pizza but hey now we know.

City Hall
Deoksugng Palace

As we walked back to Seoul Station we had some time to kill so we stopped a sat on a bench by a water fountain and did some people watching.  We got to see entertaining things like bum shunning, that would be where one bum is sitting down and another comes along and sits down by him only to have the first bum get up and pull his box away. I felt bad for bum number two but hey what can you do I guess he smelled funny or something. We also got to entertain some Koran's as they watched us contemplate darting across six lanes of traffic to get to the train station a quicker way, sadly they got their hopes up for nothing because after a few minutes of giving it real thought we decided against it.  I was never very good at Frogger.

Once back at Seoul Station I made my way to the Cold Stone to enjoy killing some time and packing on some calories.  As always it was great and tasted like home; however at home I have never been a big Cold Stone fan.  Once done we made our way down to the train platform where we got to push our way to our seats once again and got to enjoy Asians up close and personal as they stood by us. Yet again I asked myself, why is there a whole train full of Asian people and you want to stand right next to the two white people as close as you can?

Anyways once back we headed to the bus terminal and then to our apartment.  It was a good day full of ups and downs and many stories to tell.  Sadly I feel I have 9 months left here however it feels as if time is flying by.

This past weekend we did some grocery shopping and hit up Lotte Mart on Saturday to pet puppies and get some essentials.  Saturday night we went over to AK Plaza in hopes of seeing "The Expendables" but sadly found out they only play it in the mornings for some reason so we settled for "Parana 3D".  All I have to say is save yourself and please don't go see it. Then on Sunday we made a much needed trip to Costco and even with the rain this was the best one yet. On the last trip to Costco we found out there was a train station right next to Costco that is not even a five minute walk. So we headed in to find them doing wine and beer tasting, oh yes I know talk about amazing.   It was pretty empty and we even found a table at lunch!  We pre bought train tickets there and back so this trip we got to sit down and even didn't have to share our space with anyone standing.  Other than a little rain and heavy suitcases full of food the only problem we had was that our "new" fridge is slightly smaller than the last so we needed a strategic plan to get everything in.  We ended the night with home made Mexican Fried Rice with potatoes, I was so excited I did it.  Only having a stove kind of stinks sometimes. 

And I think that is all of our entertaining and non-entertaining adventures.

Some of the random other things we saw in Seoul:

Why yes that is a knock of Kit Kat bar.
To save space the gas pumps hang.

The new display at Seoul Square:


Chastity said...

It looks like you guys had another awesome time. Wax museums are fun! I heard every place is different. It was neat to see the last supper. ha ha. I had never seen anything in 5D. I do like Penguins though. :)

Chastity said...

I know I am not seeing things..You added more to this blog right ??
I do not remember seeing all of those pictures..maybe its been a while since I looked at this..anywho..random thought..the germans have knock off candies too. They don't taste the same, they use different kinds of sweetners here. This is an awesome post. Your pictures turned out great! :)