Daily Archives: 18 April, 2009

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The Seoul of Korea: Day 4 – Seoul Zoo @ Seoul Grand Park & Seoul Plaza

After a thoroughly rowdy evening the night before, understandably we slept in late, drillers notwithstanding. By the time we woke up and got ready for the day ahead, our collective heads were still pounding and it was wayyyy past lunch time even. So after a quick lunch (or bulgogi beef, which was satisfactory) near Beewon, we headed to a very unlikely tourist destination.

At Seoul Zoo

THE ZOO!!! Of all things we decided to do, we decided to see animals on two, four or more legs. Actually it was stemmed from none other than Shafik. Everytime I asked him where he felt like going (since I am the type who don’t plan my holiday itinerary beforehand), he will say “I want to see animals”. So the Seoul Zoo, it was!

Seoul Grand Park, Gwacheon

The Seoul Zoo is located at Seoul Grand Park, a park complex to the south of Seoul, in the city of Gwacheon. Alighting at the Grand Park metro station, the walk towards the entrance was like walking in Hong Kong Disneyland. The main path was packed with hawkers selling similar food stuff and tourist trinkets. It’s just that they are not touty in any way, which was a blessing after my experience in Istanbul. From the big glass building, we have three options to get up the hill towards the entrance of the zoo – a tram, a skylift, or a 15-mins walk.

Skylift at Seoul Grand Park, Gwacheon

And we took the skylift. It was perfect madness. Me, the guy with a severe phobia of height, was going to sit on a chair with no foot rest and get dangled metres above water and ground. I remember nothing much of the ride up, which took an unbelievably long time, as I had my eyes closed most of the time. To go over the hills was not that bad, but it was over open water (there was a large lake) that scared the beejesus out of me!

At Seoul Zoo

Soon we was in the zoo! I have to say, for a mere W3,000 (that’s less than 4 bucks), you get to experience a huge and beautiful zoo in all its glory. The excellent and extensive zoo (Seoul’s best) is set among forested hillsides and families picnic along the shady banks of a stream that runs through the park. You can hike along a number of marked trails that stretch 2km to 6km. The zoo is home to a long list of exotic creatures, including the African ones.

The best way to enjoy the zoo was to take a second skylift up to the topmost of the zoo, and then walk our way down slowly towards the exit, enjoying the animals along the way. We took a great many photos throughout the trip. Here are some of the best ones:

At Seoul Zoo

Polar Bears at Seoul Zoo

At Seoul Zoo

At Seoul Zoo

Giraffes At Seoul Zoo

My stay at the zoo also showed me something about Korean parents. There were a million children at the zoo, considering that it was a Saturday and all. But instead of hordes of screaming and crying children generally becoming a nuisance to everyone else… the Korean kids were an obedient bunch. No, they are still mischievous and curious about everything. The parents, instead of “tying a verbal leash” on their offspring to control their behavior by scolding and instructing and commanding, they… talked. They talked to their children, played with them, laughed, had fun.

Of course, Cheryl was the one who pointed this out to me. From that point onwards I start to realise that this was indeed true. The Korean parents are really different from the typical Asian parents I saw before. Is it little wonder why the Koreans are such a progressive society? The younger generation need not to be policed, and the adults created an environment of encouragement, supportive and stimulating.

At Seoul Zoo

And with that, I brought out the child in me and bought a blue dolphin helium balloon. LOL. It floated alongside me as I walked around the zoo. Sometimes my blue dolphin will see its siblings (fellow blue dolphins) and relatives (pink dolphins)… and I will grin at the startled owners, the kids. Hahaha. It was really fun, at least for me, though Cheryl and Shafik though I was out of my mind.

At Seoul Train Station

We left the zoo in the late afternoon, and by the time we hit back to the city, it was well past 7 p.m. Headed to the Seoul train station so that Cheryl and Shafik get buy their express train tickets to Busan. The plan was that they will leave Seoul for Busan the same morning I return to Singapore. I stayed in Seoul for about 6 days, and they were to extend their stay for another 5 days.

At Seoul Plaza

Right after that we headed to Seoul Plaza, planning to do some shopping. Seoul Plaza is a central plaza located in front of Seoul City Hall at Taepyeongno, Jung-gu with the purpose to provide the public an open space. I must have mistaken, for Seoul Plaza is not a shopping place. More like a venue for concerts and stuff. There was one in progress, apparently for the disabled people in Seoul.

We went back to Beewon for the night at the early hour of 9 p.m.! Which was a good thing, actually. We rested, talked and generally let our tired body recover from the past few hectic days.

Click here to see photos taken during my fourth day in Seoul, mostly of animals in the zoo. We don’t look very photogenic that day!