Having been in Korea for almost three months now, I can’t help but notice the plethora of couples around. And my oh my are they cute. Freaking adorable. Couples everywhere, holding hands, giving each other forehead kisses, dwelling behind street corners, hoping no one will see them exchange what may be perceived to be too much PDA. This is Korea, after all.
What’s cute is that I live on campus, and though foreign students don’t have a curfew, Korean students definitely have a curfew (not to mention gender-specific dorms). They have to be back at the dorm at 12:30 AM and if they’re even one minute late, they have to brave the cold outdoors until 5 AM. Walking home from a late dinner or a coffee session, I often see couples furtively exchange their affections in the dark just as their curfew nears. They act as if they don’t want to leave each other’s side, even though they know their curfew is fast approaching. Sometimes they catch me looking in their direction, and then try to turn away, as if embarrassed. It’s really endearing.
I see them walking hand-in-hand in the subway, on the streets, shopping in Myeongdong, climbing Bukhansan (the only mountain within the city of Seoul) – and sometimes they sport couple T’s. Couple T’s are shirts that couples wear that are identical or complimentary in some way. Usually they are really cute – adorable designs with bright colors – they want to display to the public that they are a thing. As if we wouldn’t already know, from the way they act. Sometimes couples have couple sneakers (also very bright and fun), and others have couple rings. I kind of want to stuff these couple paraphernalia-wearing couples in my suitcase and bring them back with me to the States. Not that I really want to go back to the States. But I kind of have to….at least for now.
The presence of these all these couples normally would kind of faze me…being the romantic that I am, I expected myself to wallow in self-pity. What’s wrong with me? Am I not pretty enough? Do I not stand out? What exactly am I doing wrong? But, having been in Korea for several months, and having met a lot of Korean guys, I can honestly say that I frankly don’t give a rat’s behind about being single in what I consider to be a strong couple culture. I haven’t met anyone who I genuinely feel like I could be in a real relationship with here, and that’s perfectly fine with me.
Granted, I still think Korean guys are the cutest guys in the world (and I’m certainly not alone on this – I’ve met so many girls who could not agree more haha). Maybe it’s just that I’ve matured a bit about the whole thing. How in love are most of these couples anyway? Given the sheltered nature of many Koreans growing up, I expect the campus couples I see daily to have had little experience in dating. Perhaps they found their soulmate, or perhaps they found someone with whom they could pleasantly pass the time. Regardless, I am happy (and not grumpy) to see the love and happiness everywhere. It gives me hope in my future happiness.
So this blog post title today is really lame, I know, but it’s kind of the best thing I could think of. Last Sunday, I did a little photo shoot with lovely Paula, one of my fashion inspirations here in Seoul. She has a great blog, filled mostly of fashion, but also of life, love, and how beautiful Seoul is, which I’ve also discovered myself the two or some months I’ve been here so far.
Paula is working at a vintage shop called OldOld. The store is located near Konkuk station (Line 2). It’s a cute little store in the basement of an old building, but there are a lot of gems just waiting to be discovered. For my friend and I, Paula decided on a knit-only look that was kind of angelic, and to play up that aspect, we shot only on a roof-top. It was a really fun experience, and I’d be happy to work with Paula again for any other fashion ideas she has. She was the first fashion blogger in Seoul that I found, and I was so happy to finally meet her. She’s perhaps even friendlier in person than online, and that’s saying something ^^
So here are some of the photos:
They turned out really nice and artsy, right? I really loved the outfits Paula picked. She’s a natural stylist :) I really love the fashion here in Korea – it was one of the drawing points for me. At long last, I got to work on a fashion project here…I’m grateful :)
I know there is supposed to be Cute of the Week every week (hence the name), but I’ve been kind of lazy with updating my blog lately, so I’m going to make the post about Lotte World into a Cute of the Week post.
I wasn’t necessarily planning on going to Lotte World (pronounced Loh-tay), but there was a Chuseok (Korean fall harvest/Thanksgiving holiday) discount for foreigners, and a bunch of KU students decided to go, so I thought, what the hell and decided to go last-minute.
Some background on Lotte World: it is the world’s largest indoor amusement park, but it also has an outdoor part that isn’t shabby either. The indoor part was my favorite, though, because I’d never seen anything like it before. Since Lotte World is located in Seoul (it is surrounded by tall apartments), it has limited space. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and it was definitely the case with Lotte World. Since most amusement parks are outdoors and spread out on a large land base, there’s usually a considerable amount of space between rides and shops. Lotte World is crammed in a pretty small space, but the architects/designers did a fantastic, fantastic job with it. With a huge glass dome for a sky roof, an ice skating rink dipping two levels below the main floor, and 3 more levels above the main floor, the indoor park gives off a feeling of being spacious and a fantastical aura of being bigger than life. Here are some pictures if you don’t believe me.
I couldn’t take many panoramic photos because I wasn’t from a high enough altitude to do so. So this is the best I could do :/ However, Lotte World is kind of like a kid’s dream. Just look at the beautiful details!
The Adventures of Sindbad (6/10) – This was the first ride I went on. It is completely underground, and you are basically cruising along on a cart in the dark. It’s supposed to tell a story – most of the time, you are moving slowly through dark chambers with mechanical dolls voiced over by actors. It has a Harry Potter/Phantom of the Opera feel to it – mysterious, but pretty boring overall. There are two drops in it – none of which I expected, so I was a bit iffy about them, haha. I would recommend this ride if you want a longer ride and don’t mind a bit of bad voice over acting and unrealistic-looking actors. Don’t wait in line for it if it’s longer than 20 minutes.
The Conquistador (7.5) – This is your classic boat swing ride. I was excited for a bit more excitement, so I rode this after Sindbad, and it wasn’t bad. It was as expected, which is both good and a bit boring.
Giant Loop (7/10) – I was kind of excited by this ride, because it is a full loop. Your cart is on this loop train and it never goes anywhere else. You do full 360 degree rotations, and the concept was pretty cool. The speed is rather slow, so if you’re expecting a fast ride, you’ll be in for a disappointment. However, it was enjoyable, as I’d never been on a ride like it before. I would give this ride an 8, but there was one thing about it I really didn’t like. You are belted in on the top well, but the bottom part (your bottom and legs) aren’t secured well. There were times I was upside down and my legs were literally hanging in midair. This was a bit scary…but overall it was a good ride.
The French Revolution (8) – The concept of this ride is really awesome. It’s a fast-speed rollercoaster basically around the perimeter of the indoor park. It looks beautiful and the loops and drops were appropriate and thrilling. The only setback – and the reason I kind of hate Asian amusement parks – is how much the ride made my head and ears throb. During the ride, there were a lot of fast turns, and the way the seats/ride was designed caused my head to bounce violently from one side to the other, hitting the head rest (which wasn’t really cushioned) quite often. Many friends walked away from the ride with the same complaint. The ride would’ve been so much better without this very basic design flaw. I would still recommend it, however.
After this, we moved to the outdoor park, which is called Magic Island. We actually spent a considerable part of our time in this park, considering how small it is in comparison to the main park. When we got to Magic Island, we were greeted with this beautiful castle not unlike the Disney Magic Kingdom castle.
And it kind of astounded me how close Lotte World was to the city of Seoul. Look at those skyscrapers. The people living in them must look outside their window everyday and be like, what is that shit doing here.
Swing Tree (6/10): One of my favorite rides, the swing ride. The first 10 seconds were marvelous – I felt like a kid again (and granted, I was one of the oldest people on the ride. 80% of the riders were below the age of 8). And then for the rest of the ride, I felt like I was going to puke. I don’t know what it was about this ride, but it made me queasy for the rest of the time I was at the park. I don’t really recommend it :/
Waikiki Wave (4/10): Wow, this ride really seriously sucked. Like so bad. I thought it would be like the ride Hang Time in Dorney Park (I’m from PA, lol), which is like a two-row seater where you basically flip up and down in a straight line. But Waikiki Wave was like twisting and turning in all the wrong ways and places, and I didn’t enjoy it at all. Not only was it not thrilling, but it succeeded in making me even sicker than before. Definitely wouldn’t recommend this one.
Comet Express (9.5/10): My favorite ride of the whole park. I feel like this ride is a bit underrated, since I never really hear too much about it. But for me, it was one of the best rides I’d ever been on in my entire life. Basically you are in a circle pod with one other person, and there’s a row of about 10 of these. And all ten of your circle pods swirl into a black tunnel of random bursts of fluorescent light and your pods spin freely during its orbit around and around a black hole. Sounds a bit dramatic and strange, huh? I LOVED IT. It wasn’t scary at all, no drops – and I was smiling/laughing the whole time. Since our pods spun, I could see my friends in the pods in front of and behind us and we even waved and talked to each other! The best time I’ve had in an amusement park – ever. I really intended on going back on it a second time, but when we returned, the line was waaay too long – 70 minutes or some ridiculous number like that. I eagerly await the day I return to Lotte World to go on Comet Express again. I’m going on this ride before I leave Korea – I will make sure of it.
Gyro Swing (7.5/10) – This ride looks intense (it goes really high), but it isn’t. In fact, I was a bit underwhelmed. I enjoyed it, yes, but it was less than a minute, and I definitely waited over 20 minutes for it. The swinging wasn’t as intense as I’d hoped, and it definitely would be improved if it had been longer. Still worth a visit though.
Atlantis (8.5) – Actually, this is one of those rides that look pretty normal but turn out to be a lot more intense than you’d imagine (read: The French Revolution). This ride was similar to the French Revolution, except more intense and partially indoors. It looks like one of those canyon splash rides, you know, where you go up a big mountain and crash down into the water and get all soaked in the end. Well, this ride is nothing like that – you don’t get wet, and the mountain isn’t that tall, and the first part of the ride is REALLY FAST. The moment you get on the ride, the attendant at the ride tells you to hold onto the bar in front of you and lean back, not forward. The sign outside the ride tells you to stretch before you ride. They really should’ve made this clearer. The ride takes off at 72 km/hr and none of us expected this. It whizzes and loops and drops at this same speed for about 30 seconds (the best 30 seconds of the ride) and it was sooo much fun. It was amazing. Unfortunately, like the French Revolution, this ride suffers from lack of care taken to human safety. My friend riding next to me said the speed and the turns caused her neck to sprain slightly. I’m a bit surprised with this ride, because the rides I went on back in the States were NEVER THIS FAST. It was slightly bewildering. In the end, though, I would still strongly recommend this ride.
And that concludes my list/rating of rides, since after that, the park became wildly crowded, and we were too lazy to stand in any lines. I hate it when parks become so crowded that you have to wait an hour or more for rides shorter than 1 minute. It’s kind of really frustrating and at that time, I just wanted to call it quits. There were also several attractions I wanted to go on, such as the Mirror Maze, the Ghost House, and the Tomb of of Horror, but they cost money (around 2000 won each). In retrospect, I probably should’ve tried at least one of them. I’ve always wanted to go to a mirror maze. Alas, there’s always next time.
I’m realizing now that this is probably my longest entry to date, and that’s because I really love reviewing things. I wanted to give you guys an idea of what’s good and what’s not good at the park so that when you go visit, you won’t make the same mistakes as I did. Plus, the park is only empty for so long, so you should get to the rides you like most before the lines get ridiculous.
One ride I really regret not going on is the Pharaoh’s Fury. This is apparently the most popular ride in the park and I didn’t even know what it was. The description on the map was this: ‘Take a journey to find Pharaoh’s hidden treasure.’ Whatever that means. Honestly, the descriptions on the park map are hilariously inadequate. The description of the Crazy Bumper Car was ‘Crash into other cars for fun.’ Swing Pang Pang‘s description was ‘Come to join us. Let’s bounce with Lotty & Friends.’ Awkward/hilarious much? I kind of loved it at Lotte World. The things there were kind of stupidly cute and lovable. I’m not sure when I’ll return, but I would like to return in the future sometime :)
And there’s the conclusion of my rather (extremely) long entry. And some more pictures for your enjoyment!
I’ve decided to make a weekly feature. It’s called Cute of the Week. It’s my chance to blog about cute things I’ve seen here in Korea, and trust me, there are a lot of freaking cute things here. From the people to the fashion to the food to the cell phones to the cell phone straps, there are a lot of things here that are just freaking adorable, so I decided to make this feature.
This week, I will be talking about Jetoy. As you can tell from the picture above, Jetoy specializes in making beautifully whimsical cat drawing products. The only way I can really describe Jetoy’s artwork is like this – stumbling into a fantasy garden, falling through a dreamy underground tunnel, and landing lightly in an alien world of ridiculously cute cats. The brand sells everything from journals, schedulers, stationary, accessories (including the beloved passport holders), wallets, clothes, you name it. If you can put a cute cat on it, it’s at Jetoy. Here are more examples of this amazing brand.
Where to find: I went to the store in Apgujeong, right off the Apgujeong station off of Line 2 (Green). I had to walk a good 15 minutes before I reached it, but it’s not hard to find.
Here’s the map of the Apgujeong location, as I found on their business card.
As expected, the map is entirely in Korean, so if you don’t know Korean, you’re kind of out of luck. At the top of the map, above the WEST and EAST signs, it says Galleria Department Store. The arrow on the left leads to Apgujeong station, and the arrow on the right leads to Cheongdam Station. Personally I would get off at Apgujeong station and walk toward Cheongdam Station. The three stores above the Jetoy sign on the map (from left to right) say Uniqlo, Seven Eleven, and Cafe Benne. I hope this map will be helpful for you, but honestly Apgujeong isn’t the easiest place to be wandering if you’re not a local.
If you’re a tourist, I would recommend you going to Kyobo Bookstore in Gwanghwamun. It has a big accessories/stationary section that includes a lot of Jetoy goods. You can find directions to the Kyobo Bookstore here.
I plan on buying some legit Jetoy merchandise, like the passport case and probably some wallets and journals before I leave, just because looking at these cats makes me so darn happy. I know some people find them a bit creepy, but I think they are just so precious and absolutely adorable.
Visit my blog often for more Cute of the Week!
Jetoy’s Website: http://jetoy.co.kr