Korea Day 1 (03 May 09) – First Glimpse of Korea

After a tiring overnight flight from Singapore (though it is a mere 8 hr flight, did not manage to get a proper wink on board the aircraft), we met up in Incheon Airport for our tour group members. While waiting, we felt a little hungry. We scout around the airport for some decent looking food (well at least some Mcdonald’s breakfast – something that we are familiar with before our stomach goes bonkers). Alias there is no Mcdonald’s restaurant around, we paced up and down looking for something familiar or even a food court where we can grab a bite, no such luck. All we see are a convenient 24 hr shop (we called it the 7-11 of Korea), after pacing up and down (passing that deli countless times) we finally surrender to it (seeing it is the only eatery around). Ordered some sandwich platter and some coffee…. my the coffee taste so good…

After eating we went to the group gathering place, by this time, everyone was present and we were led to the tour bus. After the night flight, most of us were rather tired and was looking forward to a good shower. However, our tour guide brought us to Everland Theme park first thing. He claimed that the original date we were supposed to go happen to be a public holiday weekend and the park will be crowded with locals. Today is a better day to visit, without giving us much of an option, we were driven to the theme park. As we had arrived, the theme park was minutes from opening. We went for some toilet break, before gathering to enter the theme park. Soon it is time the park opens its doors to visitors. We see the park staff welcoming visitors into the park with their ever cheerful smiles. Upon entering the theme park, we were told to head for the chair lift that would take us up to the safari within the park. The tour guide said free time would be given to us after the safari trip. So we all headed over to the safari. On our way up on the chair lift, what really caught our eye was the huge wooden roller coaster structure…. so I thought to myself… I MUST take a ride on that later.

Spring Time Flowers Blooming
Entrance of Everland
Clock tower inside Everland
Beautiful flowers inside Everland
Scenic plants inside Everland
Flowers inside Everland

Soon we were at the entrance of the safari and queuing up for our turn into the bus that would take us into the safari area. The tour guide has arranged for all of us to be on one bus with no other tourists. As we were awaiting our turn, I came upon a sign with the word “Liger”. I turned to my sister laughing at the spelling mistake. Not long after I realise I was laughing at my own ignorant! A liger is actually a crossbreed of a lion and a tiger, and there we saw one of 2 ligers in the world lying on the rock. In the safari area, we saw some tigers and lions other than the liger, and also some bears playing amongst themselves. The bus driver drove pretty close to the bears, I guess the bears were accustomed to tour buses so much so that they were minding their own business. The safari tour did not take too long, half an hour later we were free to roam around the park. Soon my sister and I were looking for the queue to the wooden roller coaster we saw as we were entering the park. Man the queue was long.. and believe it or not, we actually queued 2 hours for it! Though the queue was long, everyone in the queue waited patiently for their turn. After 2 hours, it was finally our turn! At first, the roller coaster went up slowly as would other rollers coasters. Then we found ourselves at the very top, ready for the descend! As the roller coaster made its way around the bend for the descend, what greeted us was a near-vertical slope! The few seconds seemed like tens of minutes down the slope, as we thought we had survived the ordeal of the roller coaster, what greeted us was another near-vertical slope (though this one was shorter). Then up we were thrust along the tracks of the roller coaster and then left and right as the train made its way around the track! Boy that 7 min or so ride felt longer than it really was! At this point, I turned to my sister telling her, the 2-hour queue was well worth it.  After disembarking from the roller coaster, we went around to see if there are any more rides that we would fit within mere minutes we have. Nope, no such luck. We figured we might as well walk around and go grab some food. After having some food, we spent the rest of our time walking around the entrance, taking pictures (yeah it is the touristy thing to do) of the park.

Liger, a crossbreed between a lion and tiger
Lioness resting on the rock
Lion resting on his rock
A bear having fun in the waters
2 bears having fun together
Fantastic Roller Coaster in Everland
Me concurred the coaster ride

We met up with the rest of the group soon after and we were ferried to our next destination, Dongjangdae, the East Command Post of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. We were told that they filmed some Korean TV serials here. The original fortress wall was still in great condition, not too sure if it has been restored before. However, this seems to be a place where the locals come to relax by the pavilions on the fortress walls with their relatives and friends to laze the day. There is also a corner where people can learn some simple archery. We weren’t given a lot of time for this place, not long after some picture taking, some toilet breaks, we were on our way to the place where we will spend our night.

Lunch Time!!
Dongjangdae, the East Command Post of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
Dongjangdae, the East Command Post of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
Dongjangdae, the East Command Post of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
One of the watchtowers at Dongjangdae
Dongjangdae, the East Command Post of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
Me taking a picture in front of Dongjangdae

The place where we spent our first night in Korea is Oak Valley Resort, operated by Samsung, the resort is a golf course in the summer, and it will be transformed into a ski resort in winter. The area is very tranquil and peaceful. Our rooms are actually a 1 bedroom apartment which comes with a balcony and a small kitchenette where we “cooked” some Korean instant noodles to fill our stomachs at night. We had a good shower and a well-deserved rest after the overnight flight from Singapore and the tour agendas in the day.

Hotpot for dinner
Fogging at  Oak Valley Resort

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