Children’s Day!

May 25, 2009 at 1:39 am (Uncategorized)

After a long and sometimes painful five month drought, the start of May brought the wonderful news of a day off from school for Children’s Day!  On May 5th, Korean parents all over the country are free to spend an entire day with their children – obviously an occasion that only happens once a year, considering the work schedules both parents and children endure over here.  Although some schools also give teachers and students May 4th off for an extra long weekend, as always, Mr. Park could be counted on to be much less generous.  We were so happy to have an entire day off from school we really didn’t care – a whole Tuesday with no kids, no Mr. Park, and no work! 

We were originally toying with the idea of visiting an amusement park or maybe the zoo, but it quickly dawned on us that a whole lot of parents in Seoul would likely be considering the very same options for their screaming children.  I shudder at the thought, even now.  We weren’t really keen to just sit around on our butts here in Seoul, but didn’t want to spend a small fortune for a day trip, either.  I had just read an article in 10 Magazine (http://10magazine.asia/) about things to see and do in Incheon, an area only known to me for its airport terminal, and our friend Amber read the same thing and suggested we go check it out.

So Dave, Sarah, Amber, Sally, Mike and I woke up early on May 5th and headed out to the far west side of Seoul.  Incheon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incheon) is a long, loooong way away by subway – almost an hour and a half – so we needed to make sure we left early enough to actually spend a decent amount of time there. 

One of the sights I was most intrigued to visit was Incheon’s Chinatown – the only one of its kind in Korea.  We arrived at Incheon station right around noon, and right outside the subway station was an enormous Chinese gate marking the entrance to Chinatown.  We walked along the busy streets, and perused the many souvenir shops and restaurants, taking lots of pictures along the way.  It almost felt like we were outside of Korea!

The Chinese Gate:

Chinatown Gate 1

Chinatown Gate 4

Chinatown:

Chinatown

Dave:

Dave & the Dragon 1

Dave & I:

Lisa, Dave & the Dragon 1

Mike & Mr. Bronze Soldier:

Mike & Chinese Soldier

Mike, Sarah, Dave, Amber & Sally enjoying a ridiculously large bowl of noodles:

Mike, Sarah, Dave, Amber & Sally

Amber & Sarah:

Amber & Sarah

Dave (I think):

Dave 3

Next we walked up two sets of steep stairs to Jayu Park – what a beautiful area!  Trees, grass, bushes and flowers of every colour as far as the eye could see!  It’s not something we experience very often in urbanized Seoul.  We spent quite a bit of time just walking around the park enjoying a little piece of nature.  The park was crowded with lots of other visitors and their kids, many of whom would yell out “Hi!” “Hello!” “Where are you from?” as we walked by. 

Stairs to Jayu Park:

Stairs to Jayu Park 2

Stairs to Jayu Park 3

Beautiful Jayu Park:

Jayu Park 4

Flowers 9

Jayu Park

Flowers 15

Flowers 10

Flowers 13

Jayu Park 2

Sally, me, Sarah & Amber:

Sally, Lisa, Sarah & Amber

Dave & Mike:

Dave & Mike

We also found a strange, rabbit-like creature popping up all over Incheon.  Apparently his name is Worldee (?), and he’s the official mascot of the city.  Here are just a few places we saw him:

In a flower bed:

Worldee

In graffiti form:

Worldee Graffiti

On the top of a light post:

Worldee Light Post

On an electrical box, apparently channeling his inner “Titanic”:

Worldee ON A BOAT!

On the wheel cover of a police patrol car:

Worldee Patrol Car

And on a sewer grate:

Worldee Sewer Grate

We also got a little history lesson while in the park, as we learned the Wolmido beach area was one of the original landing sites for General MacArthur’s army during the Korean War.  There was a huge statue of MacArthur at the centre of the park, and also a massive stone monument commemorating 100 years of friendship between Korea and the United States.  It made our American friends feel very proud. 

MacArthur Memorial 5

MacArthur Memorial 2

100 Year Memorial 2

Then we decided to head down to the beach to get some lunch, but we grossly underestimated how far it would be to walk from Chinatown to the area of Wolmido.  We walked and walked under the hot sun for what seemed like eons, but was really only about an hour, before very conspicuously following a bunch of older Korean hikers to Wolmido beach.  The area was similar to how I imagine the boardwalks and oceanfront areas in California – there was a big amusement park with all kinds of rides, lots of little shops and restaurants, and mobs of people just strolling along enjoying the views of the ocean. 

The boardwalk:

Boardwalk

After grabbing a quick bite to eat, everyone was eager to hit the midway.  They decided to go on the Viking Boat ride, but I had to decline since I had a bad experience on one when I was a kid.  During a summer camp trip to Marineland I was persuaded to ride the Viking Boat, only to become extremely sick from the motion and I spent the entire ride crying and begging someone to stop the boat.  Never again, Viking Boat!  Since Mike is a big guy, especially by Korean standards, he also decided to stay behind since he wasn’t sure if he’d fit into the seats.  So we watched from the ground as Dave, Amber, Sally and Sarah whooped it up, screaming their lungs out the whole time.  I lived vicarously through them and enjoyed it, too 🙂

The Viking Boat and the Wolmido midway:

Viking Boat 2

Then it was off to the boardwalk, where we moseyed around for an hour or so.  The girls decided to relax on the rocks for a while – there was no actual beach to be had – and Mike, Dave and I wandered around on our own.  We found a stand selling fresh coconuts, of all things, and bought one – unfortunately coconut milk isn’t as tasty as I thought it would be.  I happened upon a group of girls offering free face painting, and had a beautiful blue flower painted onto my cheek. 

The oceanfront:

Oceanfront

Sally, Amber & Sarah:

Sally, Amber & Sarah

Flags (notice the conspicuous absence of a Canadian flag…):

Flags 1

Boardwalk sculpture:

Sculpture

Face painting:

Face Painting

My pretty flower (thanks, Mike):

Face Painting 1

By this point it was late afternoon, so we decided to head back into Seoul for the second portion of our holiday – Cinco de Mayo celebrations!  The long subway ride back into Seoul felt doubly long since we were all exausted from a day outside in the sun and tons of walking, and most people fell asleep.  Unfortunately Mike fell asleep holding his brand new ceramic tea diffuser, which slipped out of his fingers and shattered all over the floor of the subway car…

We met up with more friends at one of our favourite restaurants in Seoul, called On the Border (http://www.ontheborder.co.kr/).  It’s an American chain that is actually very popular on this side of the world, and they offer a fantastic menu of quasi-Mexican foods perfect for our Mexican fiesta!  When I made our reservation I was told that anyone wearing something Mexican could have buy-one-get-one-free margaritas, so I was more than a little excited for that.  I picked up a cheap woven hat in Incheon that I hoped might pass as Mexican, and enjoyed a few extra drinks with my dinner!  We had a great time, but shortly after dinner Dave and I decided to call it a day – it was only Tuesday after all, and we had to work the next morning.  All in all, we had a very happy Children’s Day!

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2 Comments

  1. chris said,

    hello lisa,dave teacher!!
    I’m chris!

  2. kara said,

    HELLO~ Teacher is very very beautiful~!

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