Below you will find my Low Blows from our recent trip to Seoul, South Korea. Disclaimer: my reasons for choosing the activities I didn’t like may be lame, ridiculous, or accidental. Read at your own risk.
Namsan Park. One of the “must do” things in Seoul is a trip in a cable car up Namsan Mountain to the N Seoul Tower. And by “must do,” I mean “must do if money is no object.” The whole she-bang costs about 35,000W per person (kids included!). No thanks. A post card with a view better than the one I’d actually see costs only 1,000W.
Instead of forking over the cash, we thought we’d just walk around the park.. on the side of the mountain. What we didn’t know is that you don’t walk in the park.. you walk UP the park. From the subway to the one path that circles the mountain’s midsection is straight up. Not fun with a stroller after a long international flight.
And, since it wasn’t a “normal” park, we couldn’t see our way to it or through it. We ended up having to haul Phil & Ted up and down steep stairs. At least the air was clean and smelled like a forest rather than exhaust fumes.
Jeontong Dawon Traditional Korean Tea House. I thought it would be swell to sip the green stuff while sitting on the floor of a traditional tea house. Swell, and expensive. Well, whatever, it’s vacation, right? I got over the 7,000W per cup of tea price tag and ordered only to be told that we could not order just ONE cup of tea. Everyone in the group had to order.
Perhaps I would have talked everyone into it if we had been super jazzed about the menu. Perhaps if we had come by ourselves, just Doc Sci and me, no kids. Perhaps if we were independently wealthy, traveling the world in style. Instead, Doc Sci did a great job painstakingly examining the menu while we scarfed down turkey sandwiches at an outdoor table and then skedaddled.
Seoul Nori Madang. In Dublin, I really wanted to see some authentic Irish dancing (as in not Lord of the Dance). Didn’t happen. In Seoul, I really wanted to see some traditional Korean dancing. Didn’t happen. Granted, I wanted it to be free (but only because I would’ve been livid had my kids ruined a 50,000W per person performance – I’m not opposed to paying for art, I’m opposed to paying for art that I can’t enjoy).
So we (that’s four adults and five kids aged 6 and under) high stepped it south of the Han River to go to some outdoor theatre that supposedly had folk music and dancing every Saturday and Sunday at 3pm. Supposedly. Okay, we showed up at 330pm, but the only evidence that any activity was taking place at Nori Madang was a flyer for an event honoring an elderly Korean man and a lone dude setting up a solitary microphone on stage. Not exactly what I had in mind, dancing or not.
Dalki Little Farmer Cafe. After the failed folk festival, we walked to the nearby (and I use this term, uh, loosely) Olympic Park in search of this quirky cafe I read about here. I thought this kids cafe would be a good reward for little tired legs that had been dragged all over the city all.day.long.
Perhaps my kids should have played up their blue eyes, blonde hair thing a bit more and begged for some spare change. The admission charge to this place was insanely ridiculous. I had somehow missed the note in the above post that children must pay 10,000W just to play (about $9).
And even if I had been prepared to pay that just for the novelty factor (this cafe features some weirdo poop character – see link above), we found out upon entering that adults also had to pay 5,000W each. That’s over $26 to walk in the door. Food, drinks, and peace of mind extra. Instead, we grabbed 50 cent ice cream cones from nearby Lotteria and went home to a delicious lasagna dinner.
Topgol Park. I love parks. With or without kids, how can you go wrong with an interesting park? Visit Topgol Park in Insadong, and you’ll find out. This is the only place in the world I have ever seen that has at least five times as many bathroom stalls for men as for women. And for good reason.
There must be some kind of unwritten, male-only attendance rule. Even though the park has a famous pagoda and historical significance, I got the creepy feeling that women just didn’t go there unless some kind of risky business was goin’ on. Try to explain that to your three year-old who wants to know why he can’t stay and play.