Thursday, April 26, 2018

Seoul Day 5, My turn :-)

Seoul Day 5 Museums-02859Dear Matt and Mar,

Yesterday, after such an exciting and nerve wrecking day, I had decided to take it down a notch, and today was going to be (in a way) my day, haa haa haa, so off to the Museums we went... In particular I had wanted to at least cover 2 Museums, the War Memorial of Korea and National Museum of Korea, and we had just managed to do that, haa haa haa.

Compared to yesterday the pace was totally different, decided to firstly visit the War Memorial of Korea, I do have very limited knowledge of the terrible war, and was looking forward to be less ignorant on this important event.

The Memorial was worth every second, the quality of the display and the layout was brilliant, the original intention was to perhaps spend two hours here (and I thought that would be a stretch), we ended up spending very close to four hours here, and to show the quality of this Memorial, it kept you two (monkeys) totally engaged for the entire time.

The content was pretty somber in part, but that just reflected the truth of war, the repercussions of that war are still being felt today.

The day was closing in fast, and I’d really wanted to visit the National Museum of Korea, luckily it was only a few stations down the road, and we were there in no time. Even the walk to the museum was breathtaking, the architecture was stunning, even your mother was impressed. Once inside, to me it was like going into Mr. Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but after a few minutes it was obvious that you three did not share the same enthusiasm, haa haa haa, so I found you all a lovely bench whilst I was off to explore, and it was glorious.

I had totally lost time among the wonderful artifacts and displays to the point that your mother had to call, to remind me that it was time to eat, haa haa haa. While I was away your mother had spent her time wisely, and found a Korean BBQ place that is very popular with Thai visitors.

The sun had totally gone and the wind had picked up, with slight drizzle in the air which was very crisps and cold, haa haa haa, I have never been so glad to be jumping into a warm taxi. Communicating to the taxi driver have always been something I look forward to, they are super helpful but overcoming the language barrier was kind of fun, haa haa haa.

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Namaejip was where your mother wanted to have our late supper, it was rather hidden away in a small alley, but it was fairly packed so it looked like we had made the right choice, haa haa haa, and we did make the right choice, lol, it was so good I never wanted to leave and said a long goodbye to my feeding plan, haa haa haa haa haa.

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Unexpected bonus points, I was looking at the map, trying to find the best way back to the hotel, only to see that we could walk it, haa haa haa, and we did.... we were tipsy enough to make walking fun, haa haa haa.

Tomorrow as it turned out, unexpectedly, was an absolute gem of a day! Probably the most fun yet!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Seoul Day 4, What an adventurous day

Dear Matt and Mar,

What a day this had turned out to be, we tried (let me stress the word ‘tried’) to leave the hotel early, haa haa haa, Konjiam (about 40 km (as the crow flies) was quite some distance away, oh I wished we had hire the car for the day, haa haa haa haa, but we didn’t, so it was to the Underground once more :-)

001Maybe I could have chosen better route, with less changes (sorry), but soon enough we’d found ourselves looking at the empty taxi rank, haa haa haa, and we waited (what seemed to be half an eternity), and to be honest I was slowly steaming inside, as it was getting to be quite late (noon-ish) and I wanted you two to have lots of time at the ski resort.

Suddenly a taxi turned and we found ourselves heading towards Konjiam (which was less than fifteen minutes from the Underground station), once arrived, I was totally lost on what to do, haa haa haa haa. The obvious move was to buy the tickets... haa haa haa. Wow, what a nube... I went through the motion of selecting the ticket type and so on, but then she asked if we could ski/snowboard... well, my intention was just to go take you two in and have a go (on a very shallow hill), but she wouldn’t allow that, haa haa haa (I wasn’t laughing at the time).

The thought of all that travel and not being able to let you two play, did stress me quite a bit, but we decided to take a little time out and recoup at the local cafe nearby... after a superb cup of coffee, I went back to the ticketing office, and this time I knew exactly what I was doing, bought the tickets (by the hours), rented the right equipment (decided on snowboards for the three of us), rushed back to the coffee shop and ushered us all towards the main lobby, where we were fitted out for boots, then to upstairs for the snowboards.

WOW... as soon as we saw the slopes, I was totally in awe and dumb struck by the view that was in front of us, the white mountain sides that climb and climb, they was touching the light whisper of cloud, against the endless bright blue sky, the hint of snow being blown by the high wind in the far distance, the dashes of colourful ski suits and jackets across the white glittering canvas, the smiles, the laughter, the vastness of it was all truly amazing!

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I didn’t need to snowboard or ski, I was perfectly happy in the viewing / waiting gallery, lol, but I was carrying 3 heavy snowboards, haa haa haa. So we said goodbye to your mother (all smiles) and we entered through the turn gates and headed toward the slopes... wow.

I didn’t know how to put on the snowboard, and all I can say is thank you ‘YouTube’, haa haa haa, talking about learning on the fly.

I looked for the beginners hill, haa haa haa, there was long queue at the ski lift, and so we trudged along and in no time we found ourselves being ushered into rows (people there were unbelievably lovely). The ski lift scooped in behind us, we sat down, but my hands were so full I couldn’t pull down the security bar... oh dear... our family stopped the lift... there were a bunch of Korean shouting (understandably, lol) and somehow I’d managed to pull down the security bar (using Jedi mind force) and a second later we were moving once more (I didn’t dare to look back, haa haa haa).

Now to the top of the hill... all snowboards were on and I was just sitting, it looked like I was just enjoying the view, the truth was I didn’t wanted to stand up, didn’t have enough strength for one, lol, and was afraid I was going to die for another. Matt on the other hand was willing to give it a go straight away, I never knew we were raising a maniac, lol, he stood up and whoooosh off he went down the hill. Now if that was on land I would have certainly ran after him, but we were not, we were on the slope of certain death...  haa haa haa, so I just sat there, haa haa haa.

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Let me be clear, this was the first time for snowboarding and with zero knowledge. To me there was no ‘ready, steady, go’ on one of these thing. As soon as one stood up it was ‘GO’,  and ‘ARRRRGGGHHHH’, haa haa haa. Luckily I had Mar by my side, she was like my personal ‘something to grab’ thing, haa haa haa. Eventually after looking around and copying, we managed to glide down (somewhat awkwardly), the lesson here was not to go forward (and down the hill) but to go left and right, zig zagging down the hill, still that was still too fast for an old person like me... haa haa haa haa. But I was over the moon to see you two having such a great time, that was all your mother and I wanted.

A time later, Mar have had enough, and I noticed there was a huge sledging hill, and as I didn’t want to risk my life any longer, we all moved to the sledging. Now buying a ticket was a nightmare, I’d thought we could have bought the tickets at the sledging hill, but one had to go back to the front ticketing office, as I was halfway up a mountain it was a bit of a pain, haa haa haa. Long story short, by some miracles you two managed to sledge without tickets whilst I rushed and bought what was needed, it was like one of my ‘cardio’ day, and I don’t do cardio.

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The sun had left the sky, the flood lights came on, and to me the mountain and slopes became even more beautiful, I was totally lost for words and now beginning to understand why mountain climbing can be an obsession! But for us, it was time to call it a day, instead of rushing back into the city we’d decided to just eat here, there was a very good restaurant in the main plaza, and it was perfect.

For a while I’d forgot that we had to catch the bus back to the Underground station, after our supper it was discovered that the next bus was at 23:00, haa haa haa and my little casio read 20:00 ish... haa haa haa. While you three were sitting and playing outside I’d went down to the information (absolutely great bunch of staff) who helped to call one of those moonlight taxi, as it was taking some time, your mother came and see how I was doing... The staff actually walked out into the cold with your mother and I, and the taxi was there waiting for us, but you two had disappeared!

A whirlwind of running and shouting ensue, the panic level doubled every passing minute, it was dark, cold and quiet... Suddenly I saw Matt coming out from the restaurant we had our supper, Mar needed to do a number two, haa haa haa haa haa, and her brother was just looking out for her, lol.

By the time we were all together, the taxi had left, can’t blame him... and that fantastic lady was making several calls out in the cold with us, it must have been another fifteen minutes before we found ourselves in the warm taxi.

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The Underground was quite busy, but my main concern was what to do when Mar falls asleep, haa haa haa, and she did. Instead of catching the Underground all the way to Seoul Station and walk home, we decided to jump out at one of the main Underground station (well we just jump out when most of the people left the train, an indication of arriving at one of the bigger station) to catch a taxi back to the hotel. Apart from the first taxi refusing us (I think I gave him the wrong address), we arrived home all worn out and it was a superb day!

Seoul Day 3, Sledging and Amusement park

Dear Matt and Mar

[28.12.17] Yesterday was more edutaining more than fun, haa haa haa, so on the previous night I was running through the master plan (haa haa haa, oh, it is just a colorful excel sheet, categorising all must see and must do by type and geographical location), and decided that the next morning we would head towards the south of Seoul, our target for today was ‘Sledging’ and ‘Lotte World’.

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While in Thailand we did quite a bit of research for somewhere for you to play with the snow besides the full ski resort, and so Tteukseom Hangang Park Sledding Hill was our first stop, and it was glorious, of course we were there a little late again (haa haa haa), you two had less than an hour sledging before they had to stop (for an hour), I thought you two were going to be bored, but just the opposite, you two never had so much fun, lol.

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This was the main reason why your mother had chosen Seoul, living in a tropical country we have visited more waterparks than there are rice in our paddy fields, but a chance to have fun with snow was not as simple, lol.

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So far the day have been fantastic, now onto the afternoon, we had 2 choices, either Lotte World (indoor/outdoor amusement park) or Everland (outdoor amusement park). Since we didn’t have a car, even if we did Google Map was locked and unusable in Korea, so the best option was Lotte World, and I absolutely did not enjoy the place, but you two loved it!

Perhaps it was the timing, or the amount of people, or that I didn’t get enough sleep, and perhaps we should have spent more time visiting the huge (mega) outside part of Lotte World haa haa haa, ok, seriously with hindsight, I think I didn’t enjoy the afternoon simply because there were just too many people, but the most important thing was that you two had a fabulous time (didn’t want to leave).

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One thing you can not deny, is the ‘Wow’ as one walk into Lotte World, the first view of Lotte World was breathtaking, the million mile high ceiling, the open space, the colour, the lights, the sound, the decor, it was very capturing, lol and you two never wanted to leave. We ended up spending around four to five hours there, and we hardly visited the outside area at all, lol.

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We decided to take the taxi home, and of course by the time the taxi rolled into our hotel, Mar was in dreamland and Matt wasn’t far behind, haa haa haa. That night your mother and I debated a lot on what to do the next day, your mother wanted to take you to a proper ski resort, so back to the sheet I went... and the target for tomorrow would be Konjiam resort.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Seoul Day 2, Palaces and Boots :-)

Seoul Day 2 Palaces-01884Dear Matt and Mar,

[27.12.17] We had a rough itinerary sketched out for each day, trying to fit in the ‘fun’ as well as some ‘edutainment’ as well, haa haa haa. During the previous evening, your mother and I decided to do the touristy thing and just get all the landmarks out of the way :-)

The plan for our first full day was to visit all of the various palaces, and it was glorious, Gyeongbokgung - Gwanghwamun - Changdeokgung - Changgyeonggung and probably more. The weather was beautiful and cold, haa haa haa. I was really looking forward to the Underground escapade, lol, and learning from yesterday’s mistake, instead of walking back to City Hall Station, we headed to Seoul Station (so much better, also has a huge shopping mall).

Throughout this trip, the morning routine annoyed me quite a bit, as whatever we’d try to do we couldn’t leave the hotel quicker than ten/eleven-ish, your mother had to remind me to chill a little and of course she was right, haa haa haa. And this is where a simple change in the routine improved everything, we ended up only having two main meals a day, a late breakfast, then early supper, and that took away all the stress (my stress, haa haa haa), and you two were so much happier, and also allowed more time to see and do so much more.



[Matt: Papa should’ve listened to me. I was laying on the couch with Mar begging to do something. I asked him to wake up but NOOOO.... Instead I watched the TV for less than an hour and got bored. Later on I came up with a deal. For every palace we went to each time we got to one, the distance would be timed for my playing time... BUT NOOOOO... (>:( ]

The palaces were gorgeous, but I think your mother and I enjoyed it just a little more than you two did, haa haa haa. It was so nice to be out in the cold, and on this first day I found out how devastating the cold can do to one’s battery life, haa haa haa, with a very old battery in the camera, it died in less than fifty shots, haa haa haa, luckily I have 3 of them, as well as a huge powerpack which could be directly plug into the A7, it was perfect.

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Half way through the long day, it was obvious that our strategy of making you two wear 8 layers was more than enough, haa haa haa, but your feet, your feet were freezing... we couldn’t find any suitable boots whilst we were in Thailand, so we had to make a little time and be back at Seoul Station a little early to do some shopping, lol.

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As we were here in the winter, the crowd at the palaces were pretty thin, and it was beautiful, but we imagined the palaces would be a different ‘beautiful’ in the summer though :-) but what we were experiencing was perfect, virtually no crowd, bitter cold crisp air, absolutely gorgeous architectures we could not have asked for a more.

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We did make it back to Seoul Station with plenty of time to spare, and we were spoilt for choice when it came to children boots, of course the boots fever also took over your mother too, haa haa haa, so she got a pair too... lol.

By the way, I’d even went out and got a proper tripod, just for this trip... and guess what... it didn’t even made it out of the hotel room once (well perhaps once, but it was certainly never used, lol), it was just too darn cold and we’d ended up just placing the small TG5 on whatever we could find, lol.

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Seoul Day 1, The journey there :-)

Dear Matt and Mar,

[26.12.17] How could I have forgotten to write up about our first trip to Korea? Looking back, we travelled 3 times overseas last year, SG was a short fun trip, Perth was epic and Korea was something amazing, and how could I have forgotten to write it up is beyond me.

1) Opps she did it (to us) again.

I could feel it coming, even back in October / November, your mother had mentioned more than once about taking you two to somewhere cold to have some fun with snow :-) but I really didn’t think anything of it. Then one morning, I’d suddenly found out we were going to Korea, for New Year, haa haa haa. I was laughing until I’d found out how cold it was going to be... wow... haa haa haa.

For the next few weeks, we’d spent probably every weekend shopping for winter clothes, just imagine how fun it was, shopping for clothes suitable for -10c in a country where we moan that it’s freezing at 25c, haa haa haa. A combination of online and offline strategy, we’d did manage to get all the essentials done with a few days to spare.

As the departure day approaches, I was checking the weather almost religiously, and the advice from colleagues didn’t offer me any delight, the most common words being, ‘it’s going to be absolutely freezing’, haa haa haa.

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On the day, it was stress from the get go, haa haa haa, the flight was very, very early I mean 02:00 early, haa haa haa, but my game plan was strong. My most concern was you two being too tired not to enjoy the journey, so it was early supper and straight to bed you two went! Even before 19:00 you two were tucked in bed and soon were off to dreamland. Your mother and I on the other hand was on a different course :-) we have not had enough sleep for the past 9 years (since Matt was born) haa haa haa, so we were used to it.

Everything ran like clockwork, and the few hours of sleep you had made it so much easier for everyone, you were as fresh as daisies came around 01:00, the taxi was on time, and soon we found ourselves walking through immigration and heading towards the lounge, as that was the next piece of the plan, finding somewhere for you to have a quick kip before boarding... the lounge was sparse, and so I was able to make a makeshift beds from two pairs of seat :-) Soon you two and even your mother was once again off to dreamland :-)

The actual flight time was only around 5 hours (BKK - ICN), quite a short flight (relatively), waking you two up again was a bit painful, but it had to be done. Korean Air was fantastic but the thought of asking you two to go back to sleep for the third time was going to be bit of wishful thinking, as it turned out, you two went out like a light :-)

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2collage2) They weren’t joking about being cold.

From ICN (Seoul Incheon Airport) to our hotel was super convenient, the top knotch bus literally took us for the Airport’s door to the Hotel’s door :-), the only risk being it operated on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis, so there was always a risk of not having enough spaces for the four of us.

I almost bought ticket for the wrong bus too, haa haa haa, well there was a lesson learnt on not to entirely trust words on the net, luckily the ticketing officer knew our hotel (as it was one of the stop on the bus’ route), just imagine if we did got on the wrong bus... your mother would have found somewhere to bury me alive in Seoul, haa haa haa.

As soon as we walked outside to wait for the bus, your mother and I turned around and looked at each other, without a single word, we executed the clothing plan A, simply pile on as much clothes we had at hand on the both of you... man it was cold.

Blowing steam could have kept you occupied for the rest of the day, but soon the bus arrived, and it was fantastic, the seats were so comfortable you two fell asleep for the fourth time, haa haa haa. Seoul is 2 hours ahead of BKK, we had landed around 10:00 (Korean time), and it was 13:00 when our feet were being cuddled by the heated floor of our room, oh if only we could revert that for Thailand, chilled floor could the the next big thing, haa haa haa.


3) Time to roam, and first insight :-)

By the time we’d unpacked and rested a little, it was still quite early in the afternoon (around 15:00), so it was time to roam, it took us a little time to get the lay of the land, the two Underground Stations closest to Ramada Hotel and Suites were Seoul Stations (much bigger station) and City Hall. Of course being a nube, we went to City Hall station (wrong choice, haa haa haa).

Here come the first insight, putting on all the layers for you two, took far much time than we had thought :-) For Thailand, one T-shirt, a pair of underwear, a pair of shorts and you are done, literally took 5 mins. In Seoul, it took at least 20 mins just to get dress, haa haa haa.

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After roaming for over and hour or so, it was time to feed, since we had not really had a proper meal since the last ice age, found this rather smart looking, essentially an upmarket food court. And here was another discovery, we’d thought putting on all those clothes was a bit of a pain, taking it off in a restaurant was like an episode of Mr. Bean, we could have accidentally killed anyone within an arm length of us four, haa haa haa.

This early supper was fantastic... and not that dear, and soon we found ourselves putting back on the layers once more... oh man, as it went from afternoon into the early evening, the wind began to pick up your mother and I were having second thought, but you two were absolutely loving it :-)

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Instead of walking home, we’d decided to take the Underground to Myeong-Dong area as it was supposed to be the heart of retail among others, but it was obvious that you two were running out of juice, and were visibly very tired, lol. So after a quick walk we’d decided to call it a night for our first day here in Seoul.

Second insight, some of the Google Map’s function have been removed, one can see exactly where one was and with some guess the direction in which we were travelling, but it was not possible to use the route function, which was extremely challenging, lol, it had to do with national security, so who was I to argue :-). Ended up having to use a combination of local (Korean) map tool and Google Map, it was a bit of a pain but workable :-)