This is day 3 of our trip to Korea. Enjoy!
This day started off with me not feeling very well so I didn't really want to do anything. I took some medicine and Josh went out to get some coffee while I waited to feel better. The plan was to hit Lotte World Adventure that day and maybe even a castle. I remember looking up where those places were beforehand and writing down directions but I must have not completed writing them or something because we didn't go to the right place I was expecting. When I was at home, I looked up where Gyeongbokung palace was in relation to our hotel stop and saw that it was only a few stops away and the stop name was relatively simple. It was called Gyeongbokung. I also looked up where Lotte World Adventure was and it was quite a distance away from the hotel. About a 30-40 minute train ride. In the hotel before we took off, we discussed heading to Lotte World first then hitting the palace, so I looked up my notes and only saw Gyeongbokung written under Lotte World and I must have figured that was where it was located so we went there. We got there rather quickly, which confused me because I specifically remembered thinking that Lotte World was far away then to my surprise there was a castle before me. I guess we secretly wanted to go to the palace first.
The palace was rather huge and reminisced Japanese style palaces in design. Some minor things were different, but for the most part, all Asian palaces look the same. The biggest differences are the roof styles and the colors used. Japan tends to use a lot of neutral colors with maybe some red or orange thrown in there, and from what I noticed in Korea, Koreans seem to like using bright colors like reds, blues, and greens. Also, another thing to note too is that almost all Japanese castles have angry looking golden fish on top of the roofs because it is a good omen. I didn't see any of that in Korea.
They had turned the palace into a museum so we went inside. I had heard there was admission of like 3,000 won but I couldn't find a counter of where to pay. I people watched what others were doing and it didn't appear that you needed to purchase anything. There wasn't anyone yelling at us, looking at us funny, and not a single person standing at the entrance checking admittance. So we just walked on in and looked around. No one came to us or anything. Guess the museum was free.
I don't know much about Korean history, and to be honest, the museum didn't interest me much at all because Korea is not a culture I am very into so I skipped most of the signs. The only Korean history I know is when Japan took over. My point being, if you want to know more about Korean history apart from what I write here, then you should do your own research because I am not going to be 100% reliable.
Before Japan decided to rule Korea, Korea was a monarchy. They had 27 kings from the 14th century until about 1909/10. Once Japan took over they abolished their monarchy and they began to be governed by the Japanese dynasty, which would have been during the Meiji era in Japan. (Side note, I am going to make a lot of comparisons to Japan in this part, if that bothers you then you can just skip this section). Koreans were heavily influenced by Chinese Confucianism. Confucianism is where you need to die to yourself and only live for those who are above you. In a government, that means how best you can please your leaders without receiving all the praise. It is really a messed up way of thinking. You cannot think about yourself, you can only think about how your actions will best improve the life style of the government leaders, in this case, the king. The King's job would then be to live for the ancestors. When you die, they believed that you become a higher being in control of everything. Since the king is already the highest in the country, he needed to please the ancestors. They had all sorts of interesting and wasteful rituals. They had an ancestral food ceremony. They would lay out all kinds of food in a ritualistic way and then prepare the meal. Once the meal had been prepared, no one ate it. They just burned it and offered it as an offering to the ancestors. I think this is very wasteful. The amount of food they offered was absurd. No one was receiving it. They were just burning it for no reason. Japanese are not Confucian they were more influenced by Shinto and Buddhism. Buddhism is about removing one's desires
because having a desire is considered selfish. They believe in being pure and good. Shinto believes that everything has a god. There is a god of leaves, a god of ice, a god of grass, a god of water, everything. In Shinto, it is believed that you must respect and honor all things as they are given as gift and not something to be plundered and taken advantage of. So Japanese believe that you must so respect and honor towards everything, and at the same time removing your selfish desires by thinking about the needs and desires of others. So there is a pretty big difference between the two cultures.
Whenever a king died and the new king was appointed, they did this as part of a funeral ceremony. Then the new king would do a procession for a number of days. The longest recorded one was about 8 days. These were huge processions also. Hundreds and hundreds of people were involved wearing ceremonial garments,
which were made from heavy fabrics; they carried the king around the city. They never went anywhere they just walked around in a circle for a week making noise.
An interesting fact about the kings of Korea is that the first-born son to the king, be that from a concubine or the queen, began his training in preschool. He started learning to become a king almost immediately. His entire life was all about ruling the people of Korea. During his reign, the king needs to develop some sort of scientific innovation. He is considered a failed king if he did not create any sort of innovation. The most famous ones were displayed at the museum. Most of them were about medicine but one was about a water clock. It is basically a huge machine that uses water to tell time. It had chines that went off every 2 hours. All they had to
do was reset the marbles from time to time but other than that, the clock worked by itself.
In the basement of the museum, they had a history of cars in Korea. They have nothing to do with the palace, but car manufacturing is a major part of their history so we had to check it out. They originally had their driver
sit on the right side of the car, but they continued to drive on the right side of the road. A few years later, they
realized how dumb that was and switched the driver side of the car to be on the left. The had some original model cars there too. It was cool to look at. It also only went about 10 miles an hour. Wow! So fast!
We walked around the palace grounds and saw many people wearing han boks, which is the traditional Korea dress. At first, I thought that the staff were modeling the history but then I saw that a number of people were
walking around with selfie sticks wearing those garments and figured that they were just rentals. We did find out where you had to pay to get in. There is a second part of the palace grounds that you can go to but you have to pay to get in. I have no idea what is there, as we didn't go.
We were going to have lunch at the palace but when we walked into the restaurant, no one said or did anything. We stood there for a good 5 minutes. I guess we were supposed to seat ourselves or something but we didn't know. We had never been to an actual restaurant before. Since we had a long train ride to Lotte World, we left and decided to eat at Lotte World.
Lotte World is a huge shopping center in Korea. HUGE. We spent a good 15 minutes walking through the shopping center looking for the amusement park. Lotte World Adventure is a huge indoor amusement park. It came highly recommended on every blog, book, website, and even from my Korean instructor. It was a must on our list. We found some ticket kiosks and tried to use them. They had English and Japanese language options on the machine, but for some reason it wasn't working. I tried Korean and it was working. I just couldn't figure out what the different options were. I pulled out my phone to try and use one of my dictionaries when a guy approached us and said that the machines don't actually offer Foreign Service and that we had to go to the counter. Which was weird. Why would you bother having signs that say you can use a kiosk in 3 languages when you actually can't? He directed us towards the actual ticket counter and we bought our passes. We arrived after 4pm so there was a discount. They have another discount after 7pm, but the park is only open until
about 10 so there really is no reason to come at that time. I guess if it is during a school day and it isn't that busy then it might work but it was a Friday and a school holiday so everyone was there. It was packed! And noisy! We were practically yelling at each other the entire time.
Walking in to the park blew our minds. It's incredible! They packed so many attractions in a 4-story mall. It was the coolest place I had ever seen. In the middle of the first floor was the largest ice rink, I think, in existence. There was enough room for there to be free skating lessons, speed skating lessons, and for the other guests to skate around. Had I'd known that Lotte World has a giant ice rink; I would have brought my skates! I left them at home, because the outdoor rink was closed due to protests. I didn't think I was going to get the chance to skate. Apparently, I was wrong. We walked around the 2nd floor looking for someplace to eat and we found Lotteria. It is a burger shop. They have Lotteria in Japan but the one we went to wasn't very good. Since Lotteria has originated in Korea, we thought that we would give it a try and see how it compares. It was here that I was able to use all the Korean I had been studying. I took the order completely in Korean. She didn't speak English to me once. Or Japanese for that matter. I even made aware of my caffeine allergy when she automatically gave me coke instead of asking me what drink I wanted. Everything went smoothly. I felt so proud. I really do know Korean! Yay me! As for the food, it was really good! I don't know why the one in Japan was so terrible, this one was great! Well worth it.
During lunch we were discussing what to do first. There were so many things to do it was overwhelming. We knew we weren't going to be able to do all the rides so we tried to pick ones we really wanted to try. They had hot air balloon looking ride that went all around the entire park, we wanted to get there first. It took a long time to find the ride, then there was a 90 minutes wait. This was when we realized that going on Friday was poor planning on our part. In the end, we were only able to ride 4 rides because of the long wait times. We still had fun anyway. While waiting in line, we met a nice American couple with their tiny human waiting in line. We ended up getting the same balloon to ride. It was fun to be able to see everything. It helped JD and I decide what to do next. At the end of the ride, it took us to an Egypt part where things started moving, there were
fog machines, and a pharaoh putting curses on us in Korea. Hearing an Egyptian statue speaking Korean was pretty funny.
The next attraction we went to was a haunted house. We actually had to pay an extra 3,000 won a person ($3) just to go in. It had better be good if we had to pay extra! There was a father with his young son in front of us. We walk in, and immediately things were dark, but nothing was happening yet. It was just dark. The kid took 2 steps, and decided that he had had enough and was already freaked out. The dad laughed and told him nothing happened that it just started so the kid took about 3 mores steps and started clinging to his father and crying. The dad laughed and waved us past him. Apparently, the kid is afraid of darkness. I don't get scared easily and haunted houses have never scared me. I think this is because I know it is fake so anything that happens to pop up as a jump scare is to be expected. We laughed when one guy jumped out of a wall to try and scare me, but nothing happened and he got annoyed. Was it worth the extra money, eh, not really, but I wouldn't consider it a complete waste though. It was too small of an amount to worry about. I am sure that others would find it scary, but I never do.
The next attraction we chose was a ride that just went in a constant loop de loop. We stood in line for another hour to ride this ride. I like roller coasters, but I don't like rides that just let you hang upside down while not moving. Since I am so small, I feel like I can easily slip out of the seat and fall to my death. The last time I rode a ride that did that was in Six Flags Valencia. They had this new ride with the biggest loop in the world. It is so big, that you will just hang upside down for a few seconds before it keeps moving. Normally, they have hose overhang harnesses so you don't fall off and die, but in this ride, it was just a seat bar that didn't even reach to my legs! And no seat belts. Little kids were riding this ride! I didn't feel safe at all. I almost fell out of the chair!! This was 3 years ago. Since then, I have been freaked out by hanging upside down. The ride at Lotte
World had harnesses but it didn't swindle my fears. I was still freaked out. I should have thought about it better before standing in line.
We decided to hit a log ride since that loop ride freaked me out. Log rides are easy and nothing really happens. We had to stand in line for another 75 minutes to ride this thing. Why can't they build wait lines with mini benches? Instead of barricades, why not just use benches? That would make the waiting in line part more bearable. I guess in Korea they really want to make sure every seat is filled on rides because they wouldn't let just JD and I ride a boat alone. We had to share it with 2 other people. The ride had 2 good drops. It was actually nice. We weren't expecting anything good to happen but this ride impressed us. It was well worth it.
We got hungry again so we got something to eat. Like true theme park fashion, everything was overpriced.
Delicious, but overpriced. At least the drinks were American sized! It was the first time we had seen that in Asia. They had churros too that tasted like they do in Arizona. So happy! I got some cheese fries but it was like a creamy cheese. It was supposedly deli cheese but it was a mix between sour cream and cream cheese.
It was so so.
After eating, we had time for only one more ride. There were a few VR rides at the park and we really wanted to try out at least one of them. We chose French Revolution 2. There was no French Revolution 1 ride so I am assuming that they are just making a joke on the fact that there was already an actual French Revolution. The wait time was again ridiculous, but this is most likely because we went during a Friday and school holiday. There were several instructions on how to use the VR goggles in multiple languages, and the English on those signs were hilarious. At one point, it says to wear your face. We were cracking up.
The time finally came for us to get on the ride. We put our stuff in the side lockers, strap ourselves in and put on the headgear. It was very heavy. It ended up bruising my nose real good. It is still sore. I feel it every time I put make up on. Anyway, you had to adjust the focus of the image logo then they checked that everyone can see it ok. You shoot by tapping the touch pad on the side of the goggles. As soon as we started moving, the game started up. At first, you are riding a horse and buggy shooting stones at an impressive rate with a slingshot. There was no refill time. It seemed very western. The VR experience was super real! The image wraps around your line of sight on all sides so no matter where you turn you can see something. It was also 3D. The signs leading up to the ride all were saying to enjoy the peaceful shooting game. I don't know what their definition of peaceful is but my definition doesn't include devils and cyclops trying to eat me! Since you can't see anything except for what the goggles let you see, you have no idea what part of the ride you are nor
what is coming. Usually you have time to brace yourself when on a ride because you can see what's coming, but with this, you have no idea so the feelings are stronger. I was screaming with delight the entire time. I almost lost my voice. If you know me with gaming, I tend to REALLY get into it. Perhaps a bit too much. Sometimes I freak out and jump because enemies surprise me. With this game, it felt like you were actually IN the game. Like actually a walking and moving character in the game. I am glad they had me strapped to a chair otherwise, I would have been knocking over furniture or something.
At some point in the game, a devil takes your slingshot and you are completely at the mercy of the gigantic cyclops. Your horse and rider at this point are of course dead so only the cyclops is controlling your buggy. Whenever he would fling you around, you would feel it because you would come up to a drop in the ride or a loop. The 4D type effects added to the gaming experience and it made it freakin' AWESOME! It blew my mind! My brain exploded from the awesomeness! I can't harp on it enough. It was truly amazing. I didn't think that VR was really the future of gaming like I had heard because I hadn't experienced it until that point. After that ride, I truly believe that VR is the next step in the gaming industry.
When the ride finally ends, you have to wait for the next car to take off so they provide just some peaceful shooting. This time it was actually peaceful. You are standing at the top of a castle and shooting devils that try to take your fellow soldiers away to the cyclops. (Your slingshot comes back at some point). I successfully
saved all the soldiers, a sign pops up that says the end, and then a devil bursts through the sign trying to take you. I shot my slingshot so fast!! I was screaming and kicking like crazy. Josh was next to me and had apparently been pressing the wrong button because it shut off his game so he didn't really see anything. So me just suddenly screaming and kicking in my seat was a real shock. He was laughing and asking what the heck happened? My fellow soldiers and I defeated the devil and I was not taken Yay! Then the game ended. That was when I realized that I should not be playing VR games in a room full of people and furniture. Some or something is going to get hurt lol.
I couldn't stop talking about that ride. It was so fantastic! Josh was amused by how much I loved it. At this point, it was really late and all the stores in the shopping center had closed so we just went home.
Such a fun day!