Monday, June 23, 2008

Carribean Bay - Pirate Themed Water Park Fun

Everland. Korea's largest amusement park is just a short cabride away from where I live in Suji. It's located a little south of Seoul near Suwon and it is composed of a few different areas. The main part being the rollercoasters and everyday rides, and then the second part being Carribean Bay - the largest waterpark in Korea.

In the early part of the summer the ticket was about 45,000w, but it goes up to about 65,000w in July/August for peak time. The park opens at 9am, and I recommend getting there around then to avoid lines. We tried sneaking in some food too, but we got caught and they made us put it in a food locker (at these they're nice enough to supply free ones). Of course, its on the honor system so you can always sneak it back in - which I did.

We walked in, and set down our stuff on some rentable beach chairs and then went to hit the water slides. Well, after an hour in line we got down the tallest bobsled in the park in seconds, and I definitely caught some air that freaked me out, but the lines were too long to do anything else.

The highlight of the whole day was easily the "Perfect Wave" ride that allows any idiot attempting to do some fake surfing. I thought I was gonna ride this thing and be a pro off the bat, but after about 3 seconds I fell off. But don't worry, I was a pro by the end of the day... staying on for the full time - posing for cameras (videos to be uploaded later). I'll be looking for a pro-surfing contract by the end of the summer...

Overall - I recommend it. Best part is that July 15th sees Carribean Bay open up a brand new 2nd half of the park. Dozens of slides and random things to do. I'll definitely be going back...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Busan! Pusan? Busan!

Koreans combine the sounds of a few letters... b/v, f/p, l/r, and p/b just to name a few. You'll see the name Pusan on maps and such, but people mostly say Busan. Sometimes you'll get this crazy b/p cross sound where people will try and sound like they're saying both, but I prefer to use the b for Busan.

Aaaanyway the first weekend in June gave most people a nice 3 day weekend for that Friday was Korean Memorial Day. At home Memorial Day is the beginning of summer marking point and a rather hefty amount of time off - however in Korea - its just a day. So 9 of us packed up our swim trunks and took the train down to Busan on the south eastern coast.

Busan is Korea's 2nd biggest city at 4 million people and the world's 4th busiest port because its conveniently located on the coast/beach. Busan is definitely a breath of fresh air after spending nearly a year in Seoul, I mean - look at that beach:

First we took Korea's high speed train - KTX from Seoul to Busan and it topped out at a nice speed of 302 kmph (187mph). Equipped with a few bottles of wine, we overtook a VIP car and traveled for 2.5 hours down to the coast, complete with our party hats on:

Once we got there we of course didn't have any place to stay (we took a risk) and wound up looking left after getting off the train and staying at the first place we saw. It was the Hotel Arirang which was as seedy as it sounds. BUT for 9 of us in 3 rooms, it was only $40 each. Roughly $14 a night? Cannot complain.

Our nights were spent drinking, but our days were spent at Hyundae beach. There was a sand festival with hundreds of large sand sculptures littered across the beach, and a fireworks show on Saturday night. Oh, and true to Korean form there are snacks and food operations everywhere including a little seafood village. I did happen to partake in some live octupus... squishy and squirmy all the way down.

A highlight of the weekend was the Jalgachi fish market, Korea's largest. We walked into this place and a fisherman tossed a small tiger shark onto the floor for our amusement. As we decided to walk on, the fisherman made it known that we had to fix his mistake, so I picked up the squirming tiger shark (which was about the length of my forearm) and dumped him back in the overcrowded tank. We perused the place with its floors entirely wet, and then went out to take a look at the port's container ships. We did go back on Sunday and partook in the freshest seafood I've ever had. Ordered up 3 king crabs from the first floor fishtanks and then on the 2nd floor they cook it and serve it.

Life in Busan is pretty good....