Seoul Grand Park: Heavy on the ‘Seoul’, Light on the ‘Grand’
Today after class, my wife called me and told me we were going to spend the day at Seoul Grand Park in Gwacheon. What a day it was! It’s a really nice place to spend a day, so keep that in mind when reading my comments, which, typical of me, focus strongly on the negative. But rest assured, the place is great.
You can view all the pictures from the day here (like, if you’re my mom or something).
Here’s Miyoung and our nephew June Young in front of a huge building which seemed to consist of a line to buy tickets to the park and a line to buy tickets to the tram that goes to the park. The fees are divided up, which is good for hikers who don’t want to take any transportation, and it’s not particularly bad for those who do want to take the tram and the chair lift, because they’re both quite cheap. All told, I would say we spent about w40,000 for the three of us.
Here’s June posing in front of the chair lifts. Remember those glasses.
Here’s a handicapable elephant. Note that there is in fact no way to get a wheelchair onto the tram.
After the tram (known as the ‘elephant express’) we got on the chair lift. This photo was taken immediately after June Young dropped his beloved sunglasses from a height of about thirty feet.
This is the view of the park that you get by riding the lift. The teepee looking thing is the aviary, of which there is more to say.
Lions from above.
Here’s what the botanical garden looks like from the chair lift. Looking through the windows, it looked really grimy and overgrown, and reminded me of the building in Jurassic Park II where Jeff Goldblum’s daughter killed the velociraptor with gymnastics.
When you get to the end of the ride, you go down a really steep bit, but don’t be scared, the descent is as smooth as satin.
The first thing to see after you get off the lift is basically the ‘not really big animals house’, which starts with the monkeys, then moves through a poorly organized overview of the animal kingdom. It should be said at this point that this building is incredibly dirty, and I can only compare it to those horrible Victorian zoos where every animal was held in a cage roughly the size of it’s body.
After running through the monkeys, there were chameleons (actually four lush cages with nothing in them marked ‘chameleon’: perhaps we were supposed to think they were camouflaged?), several snakes, then guinea pigs, then white mice. In addition to being filthy dirty, the mouse cage contained the above litter of baby mice, one of which (you know which one) had been half eaten. Also it looks like someone who works at the zoo gave the mice a piece of his lunch to eat.
This is some kind of false crocodile or something. You can see that his pen has become a sort of wishing well, and there are lots of coins at the bottom of the water, and one very shiny one on his tail.
I have never been so getting pricked by a porcupine as I was at this park. I mean, it was right there for the asking. That glass wall is about three feet high.
After the miscellaneous animals building, we ran to make the 3:00 dolphin show, only to discover that you need to buy tickets for it and it was sold out. We bought tickets for the 4:30 show instead and decided to avail ourselves of the park bus, which is awesome, not only because it was a nice air-conditioned bus, but because it had a hostess. The woman, pictured above, was so nice, she even found a seat for June and made everyone feel really welcome.
I really must caution against visiting the camels.
I suspect that Americans are more familiar with African elephants, because I couldn’t take my eyes off this weird little guy. Bad posture, little ears, this guy was certainly no Jumbo.
How mean an uncle am I? This picture came about because I told June to stop doing the V-sign when I took his picture. Cultural imperialist!
We compromised. I let him do air quotes and say ‘kimchi!’ sarcastically.
By the second elephant (African, y’all!) I had given up on trying to Yankee up my nephew.
I like being an uncle. And soon, I’m going to be June Young’s Godfather too. How cool is that?
About the birds: all of the bird exhibits were cordoned off because of avian influenza.
Meerkats are another animal that you can get way too close to at the Seoul Grand Park. The glass partition June is posing in front of is about waist-high on me, meaning that I am a curious lean in away from a terrible case of African rabies.
They must not be feeding the giraffes enough because this poor guy was lurching over the divider and its moat to graze on Korea’s uninspiring grass. I hope it tastes better than it looks.
Remember the Caution-tape quarantine of all bird exhibits? Eh, too hard here.
On the way out of the park and back to the subway station we passed Seoulland, which is within walking distance of Seoul Grand Park. It looked like a Potemkin Epcot Center. I won’t be going there.
Incidentally, I have finally found a hat that doesn’t make me feel incredibly self conscious. It’s a children’s Bean Pole cap with the adjustable strap in the back stretched to the limit, and I liked it so much that I’ve stolen it from June Young. Hey, I’m bald, I need it more than he does.
On the taxi ride home in Bucheon the taxi driver was watching a soap opera the whole way.
In summary, go to Seoul Grand Park. Empathize with the animals and try not to be too serious. You’ll have a good time, I promise.