Saturday, May 3, 2014

Seoul - Hangang Park and Building 63 (City 63)

We had a long weekend up our sleeve so we went to Seoul for the weekend. Our day started at one of the inter-city bus stops in Daejeon. 

We caught the limousine bus to Seoul. These buses are really super comfortable. You have loads of leg room and the seats are extra wide. 

2 hours later we arrived at the bus terminal (which is freaking huge) in Gangnam Seoul. It was super busy. 

We grabbed a bite to eat at one of the restaurants in the bus terminal. 

Bulgogi for me. 

Jihyeon ordered Bulgogi too, but it used pork instead of beef and was spicy.

We quickly headed to our hotel to drop off our bags before wandering around Seoul for the day. We left making a booking a little late and didn't have a lot of hotels to choose from. We stayed the first night at a hotel called "Film 37.2 Hotel". It was ok, but not great. 

-It is conveniently located a stones throw from Mongchontoseong subway station.
-Some of the staff spoke fluent English.

-The rooms smelt a little of cigarette smoke and were stuffy.
-We could hear the people in neighbouring rooms through the walls.
-They messed up our breakfast order.
-The bed was not very comfortable.

Walking the hallways I felt like I was in an underground tunnel.  

And the doors were rocking a medieval castle theme. 

We then jumped on the subway and headed for Yeouinaru Station which is next to Hangang park. Because subway line number 5 crosses the Han River by tunnel, Yeouinaru Station has the bragging rights of being the deepest train station in South Korea at 27.5m below sea level! Learning is fun :P

Snaking through the park, following the path, is this man made stream. Oh to be young again. Playing in the stream is exactly where I would have been when I was a young whipper snapper. 

You can see the park is a popular place to relax and spend the day. 

Just one of the many bridges that crosses the Han River in Seoul. 

We kept following the stream, looking for a bicycle hire place. 

I noticed a group of soaking wet kids playing a very intense game of rock paper scissors in the water. The loser would stand at the foot of the waterfall while his friends would shuffle quickly through the water, pushing a wave of water over the ends of the waterfall. 

and saturating their friend (in green) in the process. 

We finally found a place to hire bicycles, right next to the large pond pictured above. 

They were doing a roaring trade. We quickly got in line and bought tickets. 

While we waited, we enjoyed the view of the city. 

Finally. We got a bicycle made for two and were on our way. It was my first time riding a tandem bicycle. 

There is a great bike path that snakes it's way along the banks of the Han River. Something to be careful of is when changing directing, apparently holding your hand out to the left or right to indicate your intention to turn doesn't mean squat in Korea (or so my wife tells me). I assumed this was a standard global signal for displaying your intentions on a bicycle.  

Following the bike path under the express way. 

Once we had gone far enough, we turned around and headed back towards the park. That really tall building you can see in the left of the picture below is building 63 (aka City 63). It was the tallest building outside North America when it was finished in 1985, and remains the tallest gold cladded structure in the world. 

More bridges, and Namsan Tower in the distance on top of the mountain. 

A quick selfie with our yellow stallion resting comfortable in the background. 


Building 63 (City 63) up close. 

There were some not very good skateboarders showing their stuff in the park. 

Duck boats!

On the bike path passing the National Assembly Building (the domed building). I wanted to go on a tour, but due to the time of national mourning for the sinking of the Sewol, there were  no tours operating. 

We returned out bike and then headed for Building 63 (City 63). 

The main roads in Seoul are really wide, compared to back home in Australia. 

Building 63 (City 63) in the distance. 

There are a few different attractions in Building 63 (City 63). The main attractions are an aquarium, wax museum, IMAX cinema the lookout on the 60th floor which also doubles as an art museum. You can buy combination tickets to see multiple attractions for a discount. If you are a foreigner/tourist, you can get a further $5 discount on the ticket price. 

As is so often the case in Korea, you have to grab a queue ticket. Don't be a nonga (like me) and wait in the non-existent line. lol. 

We got the BIG3 ticket that lets us see three of the attractions (the lookout, wax museum and the aquarium). We ran out of time to see the wax museum.  

We grabbed a bit to eat at ITpasta. The food wasn't bad, but there were a lot of kids in the restaurant, which made it a little noisy. 

I was surprised to see picture of a woman wearing a very see through top on the wall in the restaurant (right corner of the pic below), especially given the conservative nature of Korean society with regard to low cut tops. 

The pizza. As usual in Korea, it is pretty light on with toppings, but it tasted good. 

And the cream pasta which was served in a loaf of hollowed out bread. This was also good. 

With stomachs full, we headed for the aquarium. 


This ugly guy is a piranha. 

We then headed up to the 60th floor for a view of the city and to watch the sunset.  

View of the northern side of the river and Namsan Mountain.

Namsan tower on top of the mountain.

We found a place to sit and wait for the sunset. 

The sun finally started setting.

While we waited for the sun to drop enough to get a good night view of the city, we wandered around the art gallery. IMO, it wasn't very good. 

Once the sun had set, the city lit up. This is looking south.

This is looking east.

And this is looking North. You can see the Han River and Namsan Tower. 

We then went back to the subway. On the way we stopped in Hangang park again so i could take a couple of night photos of the river. 

There were still a few people in the park too, camped out in their tents. 

Or just sitting on the grass. I was going to say "sitting under the stars" but sadly you can't see any in Seoul :(.

All up, it was a good day.

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