Trip Start Apr 20, 2011
27Trip End Ongoing
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"Lotte" is (I think) a Japanese brand and there are Lotte Supers (supermarkets) around here as well as department stores. Lotte World is massive - a huge area all dedicated to "Lotte" - there is a department store, supermarket, cinema and of course the amusement park.
We all met in Cheonan at a "well-being park" (a small area of land with a race track on it and a few exercise machines where people can go to exercise) and each Grade 3 class had a bus. I went with Junsik and his class. A very fancy bus (complete with TV of course) took us to Seoul, and for the 2-hour long trip I was subjected to Korean music videos where a seemingly infinite number of girl groups and boy bands sang and danced and drove me loopy. It reminded me of "Wayne's World" when Garth thinks of Kenny G and is transported to a dentists chair where he is having his teeth drilled... One of the songs I can remember clearly was called "I my me mine" and the reason I remember it is because they repeated those words so many times I can't even tell you! "I I my me mine, I I I my me mine"!!! Bet it's on You Tube if you're interested... :)
Once we got to Lotte World we teachers were treated like VIP's by the staff there. We got special tickets that let us go on every ride, as well as a full complimentary lunch complete with rice wine. The boys were given their tickets and told to go off and meet back at the busses at 3:40pm.
The more adventurous teachers split up from the others and off we headed to the rides on "Magic Island" - the outdoor section. Luckily the sun was shining so it was pretty pleasant, although I kept my fleece on the entire time. (Don't know how I'll cope when winter comes around!) The first ride was the Gyrodrop, then a very cool rollercoaster and then the Gyroswing. Those were the only adrenalin pumping ones I went on. The queues were pretty long so we got tired of waiting.
We met up with the other teachers in the "folk village" for our lunch, which was on a raised platform. You have to take off your shoes before climbing up, and then sit cross-legged at the low table. The food is put in dishes in front of you - it is all communal - and you get a bowl of rice to yourself. Then you help yourself to bits from the other bowls. I stupidly decided to try the "fermented skate" dish which, besides being very spicy and um, fermented, the worst was that it is full of bones/cartilage! Eugh. Some of you know that I do NOT do crunchy/foreign objects in my food e.g. eggshell, hair, bug or bone. The even WORSE part is that you chew and swallow the cartilage. Ooh it took a lot of effort to swallow that mouthful. (Dannon I can hear you gagging from here!) I have learned my lesson about trying strange-sounding food!
When the meeting time came, we were all exhausted and I had a splitting headache. No one here really carries headache tablets around with them either so I had to suffer through it. I was so relieved to get back on the bus that even the pop songs didn't sound so bad! I kept dozing off but was repeatedly woken every time my mouth dropped open! I was desperate to get home and take some painkillers and have an early night, but the teachers decided we should all have dinner together. In the end I was really glad we did it, because my headache eased off and it was really cool to have another authentic Korean dinner.
Again we took off our shoes at the entrance of the restaurant and sat at low tables. These ones had roasters in the middle, where the lady puts food in a big bowl over it and lights the gas so you finish off the cooking process and keep it hot. I told Junsik to order me something as I couldn't read the menu and he ordered me something called "sam gey tang" (ginseng chicken soup). As mentioned before, the food is mostly communal here. So a large dish arrived and went on the roaster, and I was told it was goat! I think my face fell because Junsik quickly told me that I wasn't having that. Thank goodness! I don't know why - I have never tried goat but after my skate eating experience at lunch I wasn't very keen to try!
Then my food arrived. I couldn't believe it was all for me! It came in a big bowl (see photo), and when they said it was a chicken soup they weren't lying. There is a WHOLE chicken in the bowl, all for me! (OK, maybe not a chicken like we would roast at home, but also not a baby chicken.) It is even stuffed with vegetables, garlic cloves etc. The broth covers it and it takes ages eating a whole chicken in a bowl with chopsticks let me tell you (even though it is extremely tender). As if that's not enough, at the bottom of the broth is a whole lot of rice! Somehow I plowed through nearly the whole thing. It was really yummy though, and I will safely order it next time at a restaurant if I need to order something and can't read the menu.