Monday, April 26, 2010
Weekend 8 of 52.
Children's Grand Park, Seoul Forest, Loving Hut, PC Bang, Bau Haus Dog Cafe, Bistro Corner
This was a weekend for birthdays. My birthday was on Sunday, and Teresa's, a teacher, was on Saturday. Also on Saturday, an all day training seminar for some of the teachers, including my husband, so Teresa and I joined forces and went to Children's Grand Park and Seoul Forest together. I mentioned Children's Grand Park when Dan and I found it a weekend or two ago, but this time I had my camera and actually explored the park, which contains a zoo, a botanical garden, pony and camel rides, and an amusement park, all for no entrance fee. We thought it was pretty amazing. We tried to go to Seoul Forest afterward, because Teresa thought a friend had recommended it, but what she really had recommended was a foresty area along the Cheonggyecheon Stream. Seoul Forest, especially after Children's Grand Park, was not pleasant but not impressive.
For Teresa's birthday dinner, we were back at On the Border for Mexican food. This time with a whole group of people. We definitely had a fiesta, if you know what I mean.
Sunday was my birthday, and Dan and I went to the Loving Hut restaurant in Sinchon. Next door to that was a PC Bang, an arcade, where we played Street Fighter, and I excelled as Chun-Li like I always do. We ended up going over to Gwanghwamun to a bookstore and to try to find Insa-Dong. We did not make it to Insa-Dong, but we found ourselves down a pretty path between two stone walls, which would have been prettier if I'd had a better attitude, but sometimes you get sick of walking two full days in a row.
After a nap, we went to the Bau Haus Dog Cafe! And it was wonderful, and we are going to make every final Sunday Schnauzer Sunday (which totally works because there was a sleepy Schnauzer there). A dog cafe is a happy place where you can bring your dog to play with resident dogs and otherwise, where you should order one drink per person, where you should bask in the happy atmosphere. The best part about the dog cafe is that it is the shortest walk from our house. It was only three blocks away. We ended the weekend at Bistro Corner and ate ribs and fries and a cheeseburger.
This is how you know when your subway stop is a kids oriented station: Minnie and Mickey balloons and decorated stairs.
There are lots of statue gardens here.
Things got a little weird when we happened upon this root garden with a creepy dude stoically peeing over everything, and this other creepy guy with his growth plate issues.
But it got pretty again real soon.
We figure these are stones colored by kids and placed in this wired buy holding a golden egg. I wonder who made the LG stone.
We found a bird hut where you could buy bird seed to feed the birds.
I am not the biggest bird fan, but Teresa enjoyed it. And they would stay with you until the bird seed ran out.
And this kid was so happy about it. It was fun.
Next up was the botanical garden. I guess I thought botanicals would be flowers, but I have limited science knowledge. It was mostly palms and green things. It was sort of nice to see palms (I am from Florida after all). On the right is a magnolia tree, I think.
This looked like LOST to me.
A bonsai garden.
Some people have complained about the size of this zoo, but the animals were all really active, and that is more fun than seeing just the backsides of tons of animals. An extraordinary chicken and some Fennec Foxes, cute but creepy eyes. We agreed that we wouldn't want those staring at us in the middle of the night.
These two had no mates, at least none we could see. It made us sad.
I want to understand this, I do, but I don't get why the big shaggy dog is painted in the peafowl cage.
A monkey with a man face. Please don't feed the animal.
A heavily guarded Chimpanzee.
A bathroom experience. There were regular toilets, too, you guys. But you did have to remember to get your toilet tissue first.
And this is Seoul with mountains and skyscrapers always in the distance.
In the Amusement Park, coin operated stuffed animal rides. I questioned the possibility of these in the blog's sidebar. Now I see.
This was all free to walk through, but rides did cost money. We didn't end up riding anything. They had a monorail ride. That's cute.
So, another South Korea slogan we came up with this weekend is: South Korea - Anything for a Photo Op. Everyone always has a camera out. On the right, a double decker carousel.
Crazy Dance and the Truck Station.
We saw this on our way to Seoul Forest, while waiting for a train at a transfer stop. It's a giant pool.
These are the only pictures I took of Seoul Forest. You can see how it's not very much like a forest. They had different forest sections planted. There was a fir forest area, a pine forest area, a bamboo forest, the top right is going to be an apple tree aisle. The park is fairly new, I think, so eventually it will probably be fantastic.
We also found it was a treacherous walk from the subway station to the forest. This was the alley we walked to get in and out of the station, and we walked about 600 meters on a road made out construction metal. You know how sometimes they cover construction with those metal things? This whole road was those, and it wasn't really marked, and we were just walking on metal road with cars for a time. Sort of scary.
Last subway picture: Bread is Ready, Coffee is Done.
Poppers and cheesecake for Teresa's On the Border dinner. Popper art by Dan Johnson. On the ride over to the restaurant, two older gentleman motioned for Dan to sit next to them in the "reserved for the elderly, pregnant, etc." section. It is not uncommon for Koreans to try out their English on we expats. These men asked Dan if he was "German man". He said no and the only sentence he knows in Korean, "I am American". They laughed and asked him something in Korean, and he had to admit that he'd exhausted his knowledge of the language. Dan gets talked to a lot because of his height. He knows his centimeters and likes to impress people with his staggering almost 200 of them. And oftentimes when Koreans say hello to you in English, they are so surprised and equally elated when you respond. I waved back at a girl at Children's Grand Park and she could not contain herself.
So this starts my birthday photos. I am going to post on my personal blog all the amazing presents Dan gave me. We went to the Loving Hut Restaurant in Sinchon for lunch. You might remember our trip to the Loving Hut Buffet, which was when we first saw Children's Grand Park but I had forgotten my camera. It's pretty propagandied, running a constant stream of Supreme Master TV. Even a Korean vegan, whose blog I read, agrees that this creeps her out.
The food is all milk free, obviously, so I get to eat without stress, and that is the best kind of eating. We ordered too many entrees, but we wanted to try stuff out. Dan got a frank sandwich and California roll, and I got soy protein donkatsu and we shared some dumplings. Really we shared everything. I really like the donkatsu, but the sauce was a little strong. They have red bean paste sherbet, which I really want to try. We ended up getting my birthday cake here, too, because Sticky Fingers Bakery is closed on Sundays. We might try going to Sticky Fingers tonight for cake: take 2, because the Loving Hut cake was banana bread-like, and I hate banana bread even though people love it.
Right next door was a PC Bang, like an arcade. We played some Neo-Mechanism Video Games.
Namely, Street Fighter, and I kicked Dan's butt as Chun-Li. It's because I'm awesome, and my brother taught me well.
We took a picture in the mirror of a giant periscope in the middle of the sidewalk. I have long wanted to show this Blues Brothers clothing shop.
Koreans have learned what Americans never will: waffles and pancakes are dessert food. Dunkin Donuts sells chocolate dipped ones.
This is part of the stone wall I mentioned. This is also Dan giving directions to a Korean. Good job, Dan.
I keep trying to stop comparing Seoul to Disney World, but it's hard with the Mickey stuff everywhere and especially with a castle down the block from our house!
And in that same area is a giant barrel building and a building shaped like a book.
We made it to the Bau House Dog Cafe!
This old feller kept hiding out in the dog house.
Except when it was time to beg for treats. And a dog hid under the table.
The cafe sells treats you can buy to offer the dogs. You can't bring in outside treats because some of the dozen or so dogs who live there have certain food allergies. If you buy treats, you will face a barrage of puppy love. We didn't buy any because we did not wish for fair-weather affection. It does seem that they bribe a dog to sit at your table right before you are seated so that everyone gets an encounter with at least one dog.
The clean up supplies. The clean up crew was incredibly efficient. They walked around cleaning up mess before we even realized it'd happened.
I didn't have any puppy steadies.
But Dan was particularly loved by this little beagle lady (that's a different beagle in the middle). She would wander off for water, but she always ended up with her head back on Dan's lap. So sweet.
Dinner at Bistro Corner.
We want to make this chandelier when we go home. Cool.
We drank Fanta and sat by the balcony.
Cute clothing shops and window shoppers.
Fries, a cheeseburger, and ribs. With "Jack Sause", so our first barbecue sauce in months. Yum.
Hazy sunset on a happy weekend.