Seoul Zoo, Everland and Everything In Between

A couple weeks ago, all of us teachers at SLP were given two days off for Buddha’s Birthday and Children’s Day (May 3rd – May 6th). This was a much needed break, considering our last holiday was the Lunar New Year in January. This long weekend also coincided with my boyfriends arrival from America. He came to visit for two weeks (hence my lack of posting!).

We tried to pack the four day weekend with as many fun-filled events as we could. On Friday night, we decided to go for Indian food and to Big Chill for some drinks. The Big Chill is a popular foreigner bar in Suwon where many English teachers go to hang out on weekends. Not to mention, Friday is their Ladies Night special, so drinks were FREE from 9-11 pm.

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On Saturday, we woke up in the early afternoon and made our way to Seoul Residence in Gangnam. We had booked a hotel so that we could go for a nice dinner, have drinks and not worry about making it back to Suwon before the subway and buses stopped running. We checked in around 3:30 pm, grabbed subs to keep our stomachs in check and returned to the hotel to chill out before dinner. The hotel was perfect. No complaints. We made reservations at a restaurant called Grano (in Sinsa) for 8 pm. It wasn’t insanely fancy but it was definitely more sophisticated than the average dining experience. Even better, the food was authentic Italian (which is quite hard to find in Korea). We ordered the four cheese pizza with salami and cherry tomatoes, as well as the macaroni and cheese with truffle sauce to split between us. The pizza was awesome and the macaroni and cheese was rich and creamy. The portions were also generous, so we were quite full by the end of our meal. Depending on what you order, this restaurant may have you spending upwards of $120+ on a steak meal; however, the pastas, pizzas and other main dishes were all within the 23-40 thousand won price range. I would recommend this restaurant!

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After dinner, we decided to go to Pandora for drinks. Pandora is also in Gangnam and offers an all you can drink menu for a fee of 10,000 won for women and 20,000 won for men. We spent a few hours there and then head back to the hotel!

Sunday morning, we went to Butterfinger’s Pancakes for breakfast. I have mentioned this place before in a previous post due to it’s awesome assortment of breakfast options. We ate our hearts out and moved onwards to Seoul Grand Park to visit the zoo!

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We took the sky lift to the zoo, where we spent the rest of the day walking around and visiting all of the animals. We did notice although the grounds were well kept, the animals seemed like they weren’t given much attention. We didn’t see a single person working there, aside from at the ticket booths. This was strange since at the Toronto Zoo at home, it’s common to have workers inside the cages, feeding the animals, playing with them, or just giving visitors someone background information on each exhibit via microphone. It could have been due to the fact that it was a holiday weekend, but either way, it was kind of disappointing.

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On Monday, we spent the day near the Han River. It was nice weather, so we walked around for a while before getting on a boat for an hour long evening cruise. Afterwards, we proceeded to Vatos to celebrate Cinco De Mayo! We feasted until we were bursting and then trekked back to Suwon.

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Tuesday was spent in Suwon. We went to Manseok park, which is near my apartment. We had a picnic with some drinks. It was nice to relax and get some sun before going back to work on Wednesday.

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Thursday evening, we decided to go to Sam Ryan’s (another foreigner bar in Suwon) for some food before heading to a DVD-bang near Suwon Station. Just like a jjimjibang (Korean bathhouse) or a norebang (karaoke room), a DVD bang is one of those unique to Korea experiences. Essentially, it’s a place with many rooms where couples or groups of friends can rent and watch a movie for about $12-15. I think that because it’s so common for young adults to live with their parents until marriage, it’s a way to have some private time with their partners without any parental supervision.

After going to multiple DVD bangs (there were about 5 in close proximity to one another), we finally decided on one and chose to watch Super 8 that evening.

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Friday evening, we visited Big Chill again for some drinks. Since we were planning on getting up fairly early on Saturday, we didn’t go hard on the alcohol.

Saturday morning, we woke up and were on a bus en route to Everland by 8:30 am. The bus ride was quite long so we ended up there around 10-10:30 am. Everland is South Korea’s largest theme park. It is operated by Samsung and has a zoo, as well as a separate water park called Caribbean Bay. Unfortunately, not all of the rides were operational in the water park, so we just bought a single admission rather than the combined one for both areas. We spent a lot of time in the safari area of the park. We went on the bus ride in Safari World, as well as on the land/boat ride in Lost Valley. We got to see a ton of animals up close! It was awesome (and way better than the Seoul zoo). We also went on a few roller coasters (T Express and X-train), admired the rose festival taking place and stopped for lunch at an Italian restaurant before heading home. We were exhausted that evening, so we napped and then had some traditional Korean pancakes with spicy cold noodles for dinner. This was also Bryan’s last night, as his flight left early Sunday morning.

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Sunday morning, I accompanied Bryan to the Incheon airport shuttle bus and he was back on his way to America!

That same week also happened to be Teacher’s Day (May 15th). My kiddies spoiled me with a ton of presents. It felt good to be appreciated! 🙂

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