I feel like my epitaph should include something about amusement parks, because I have been known to plan vacations around them. You will never catch me going to a beach that doesn’t have a boardwalk theme park. So do you really think we could go to Korea and NOT go to an amusement park? We are freaking theme park enthusiasts and Everland has been on my list ever since I saw an episode of Running Man that was filmed there. (It’s one of my favorite episodes, too!) Plus, they have this famous wooden coaster called the T-Express which has also been featured on numerous variety shows, so sign me the fuck up.
The thing with Everland, though, is that it’s about an hour outside of Seoul, which is fine if you either have rented a car (we didn’t apply for an international license) or are more savvy with public transportation than we are. You can GET there using pub-trans, but it involves transfers and buses, and god only knows the things that could go awry with us idiot foreigners. Plus, I read that it can take around 3 hours to get there this way.
Luckily, Henry noticed that our hotel has some partnership with a company that provides not only discounted rates, but transportation on a chartered tour bus as well! So he did his thing through the website on our first day in Seoul, and then decided to also go down to the front desk and ask some follow-up questions, at which point he was told that they knew nothing about what he was telling him, so we thought for awhile that we had been scammed.
Early Monday morning, Henry stopped by the front desk on the way back from what was soon to become his traditional “before sunrise” convenience store breakfast run, and had the nice guy call the tour agency for him, at which point we learned that the bus was picking us up at 9am at some subway exit in Dongdaemun, so Henry was like, “Wow, good thing I didn’t wait until 9 to go down and ask” which is what he was originally going to do!
Anyway, long story short, we walked around for what seemed like an hour because Henry “wasn’t sure” and I was like, “If they said Exit 10, shouldn’t we just, you know, wait by Exit 10?” which is what Chooch and I did while Henry used my phone to call the travel company, who was like, “Well, we don’t have you on the list because you did this over the weekend while we were closed” so then there was this long moment of uncertainty where we thought we couldn’t go, but then they found our order and it was still an issue because the tour guide who was going to be on the bus didn’t know we were supposed to be there, so they were like, “You have to show him your receipt on your phone” and thank god there was another family of three waiting there with us because who even knows if the bus would have stopped it was only us!
So the bus got there, and that’s when we met ALVIN with whom I imprinted almost immediately because when he was wearing his medical mask, he looked kind of like Song Joonki, but there was more back and forth with Alvin because he had to examine the receipt on Henry’s phone and take a picture of it with his phone and then text it to the office and wait for them to confirm, and meanwhile, there was a legit busload of people waiting on us and I gulped so many times.
But then, yay, our reservation was confirmed and we were allowed to board the bus! We were the last stop too, and there were JUST ENOUGH seats. It reminded me of when the bus I sometimes took in high school would get to my street and my neighbor Lindsay and I were the last ones to get on and the bus was always packed to capacity and it was so uncomfortable having to squeeze into a seat that already held two people. Oh, anxiety! But Chooch and I got to sit together, so it wasn’t too bad. Henry had to sit with the dad of the family we were waiting with, lol.
So everyone on the bus was either English- or Chinese-speakers, which meant that Alvin had to go over everything in both languages and that made me love him even more because not only is he Korean, but he also speaks English and Chinese!? Yes, please. Chooch was like, “Get a life, you’re so embarrassing” because he saw me scribbling in my vacation journal about my wedding plans.
It turns out that Henry went through K-Tour Story, which I had come across numerous times while planning our trip because they offer other day tours, as well, like ones to Nami Island and the palaces. So I felt better knowing that this was a legit thing Henry purchased, it just got a little messed up since he went about this on the weekend.
When we arrived, Alvin gave us explicit instructions on when and where to meet later that night at 9, and then made us pose for a group photo, which was later posted on their Instagram along with other recent tours they led. THAT IS ALVIN ON THE FAR RIGHT, but in this picture his true Song Joonki-ness isn’t shining through.
Henry was just like, “What is happening, what have I done?”
And then Alvin handed everyone their tickets and said, “MAKE SURE YOU KEEP THESE WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES” in the most foreshadowing tone possible, and we all ran to the entrance where we were greeted with glorious amusement park music.
“GIVE ME THOSE,” Henry barked, snatching our tickets from us so we wouldn’t lose them.
Henry disappeared immediately and we thought he was pooping somewhere because that’s always our first suspicion, but then it turns out he was exchanging money or something non-bathroom related. So he says.
Since the park had just opened, none of the rides were running yet so we used this opportunity to go see the pandas before it got insanely crowded.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen pandas in real life before,” I mused out loud.
“WELL UNLESS YOU’VE BEEN TO CHINA OR THE SAN DIEGO ZOO I’M GOING TO GUESS THAT YOU HAVEN’T,” Henry scoffed haughtily, because if there is one thing for you to learn about Henry from this blog post, it’s that he sometimes acts like he is a fucking zoologist who was first in his class.
For instance, one time we were driving past Columbus, Ohio and this is an actual conversation we had and I know it’s verbatim because I literally just copied and pasted this from the liveblog I was writing when it happened:
Henry: I’d like to go to the Columbus zoo someday.
Henry: Because they have a nice zoo.
Me: How do you know?
Henry: Because they have a nice zoo, OK?
Me: Yeah but how do you know if you’ve never been there?
Henry: Because…THEY JUST HAVE A NICE ZOO.
Me: BUT HOW DO YOU KNOW?????
Henry: *mumbled something about Jack Hanna*
Henry and zoos, man.
Anyway, we got to enjoy some glorious time with pandas with only a handful of other people and it was really something special.
Especially when this guy was rubbing his butt on a rock.
Getting to see pandas in an Asian country was something that I never thought I’d do in this lifetime. It was beyond amazing.
I’m going to try and get Chooch to write a guest post about Everland because he took a shit-ton of videos, but he is L-Z when it comes to writing.
Right after this, we got in line for a small steel coaster called the Rolling X-Train. Henry was all clenched because he thought he’d have to ride with a stranger which is his least favorite thing to do especially after he had to ride with some 13-year-old girl on one of the Harry Potter coasters at Universal and Chooch and I spent the next two months talking about “that time Henry had a date with a teenager,” so he opted out.
The line wasn’t too terribly long, maybe about a 15 minute wait, but as we got closer to the top, I started noticing that everyone was flashing something at the ride attendants.
“Oh fuck, do we need our tickets?!” I whispered to Chooch, Alvin’s warning playing back in my head in slo-mo.
And sure enough, when we got to the front of the line, the ride attendant asked to see our tickets and I was so flustered. I told him that we left our tickets “with some guy” and it was so embarrassing because here we are, Korea! Dumb Americans who can’t follow instructions! Anyway, he was super nice and told us to go and get our tickets and then come back through the exit so we wouldn’t have to wait in line again.
HOW FUCKING NICE IS THAT?! That never would have happened here in Pittsburgh. (But then again, Kennywood doesn’t even issue tickets anymore, so…) So we angrily held out our hands for Henry to give us back our tickets because this was all his fault, and then we guiltily and shamefully re-entered through the exit ramp, where we waited on the other side of the concourse. The girl on that side was like, “Hello who are you?!” but our friend jumped over the tracks and explained to her what happened, so she was like, “OK OK you can go on the next one.” I love you, Korea.
Meanwhile, two girls joined us.
“Did you guys forget your tickets too?” I asked.
“Yes!” the one said dramatically, and we bonded over how embarrassed we felt. Turns out they were from the Philippines, which is only a 4 hour flight to Korea so if moving to Korea doesn’t pan out for me, perhaps I’ll consider the Philippines?
Anyway, those girls were nice and Chooch and I were excited to have made “friends.” Especially friends who also failed to follow directions.
And then it was our turn to ride and all I could think was, “I AM ON A ROLLER COASTER IN KOREA! LIFE IS FUCKING AMAZING!” And as the coaster started to leave the platform, the ride attendants all yelled, “화이팅!” (hwaiting) and I was like, “HOW IS THIS REAL LIFE?!!?!?” because I have heard this so many times on all of the Korean shows I watch but NEVER IN REAL LIFE.
Gah, now I’m over here crying about it! I will be back with more Everland pictures and recaps once I compose myself. My state is fragile right now.