This weekend I had the privilege of meeting up with an old friend from university – who also happens to be teaching in Korea herself. While our cities are quite close, the complexity of the Seoul metropolitan subway system makes it difficult to see each other without a journey worthy of a 3 part novel series involving hobbits and a ring. After a 3 month delay however, we finally made the journey and met up at the Gangnam subway station.
With absolutely nothing planned, we decided we were in the mood for tacos. If you’re an expat in Seoul, you know there’s definitely one place you’ve gotta go; Vatos. We debated our options – we could head to the Itaewon location and spend 2 hours waiting for a table, or take our chances in the less popular, but equally delicious Jamsil location. Jamsil it was.
We ordered ridiculously large iced teas, and burrito bowls large enough to feed a family, and after forcing each other to finish them, we waddled out of the restaurant looking for something to do. Lo and behold we happened to be outside the entrance of Lotte World – an amusement park that neither of us knew much about. Peering up through open atrium, we made our impulse decision to buy tickets and make an evening out of it.
If you know me, you know I’m always a fan of impulse decisions – some of my best stories, and best travelling experiences come out of them. Let’s buy a flight to Taiwan right now, let’s get on this bus where we have no idea where it’s going. If it doesn’t turn out great, at least it makes for a good story.
The ticket price was about 50,000 won (approximately 50 dollars), but because we arrived just after 4PM, the price was reduced to 40,000. We approached the counter, and because of a promotion both of our banks were running, we got our entrance fee, and unlimited rides until close (9PM) for 15,000 – what a deal!
For the next 20 minutes we excitedly explored, proud of our impulse decision, hopping in one line for 2 minutes, deciding it wasn’t worth it, and hopping in another. Still being horribly full from the burrito bowls, we wanted to start off with something small; so we joined a line for a ride we couldn’t see called “the French revolution”. Nothing with that name could be too exciting.
Rounding the corner of the line, we later discovered that it was in fact a roller coaster with loops, twists, turns, and drops. The next 20 minutes was spent mentally willing ourselves to digest food faster as to not get sick. Not our greatest decision. Long story short we made it through with no incidents, and the rest of the day was spent exploring, waiting, riding, and just having an all around good time. We also afterwards ate Krispe Kreme doughnuts in ecstasy as concerned subway patrons looked on with confusion; you don’t know how good it is until it leaves your country.
I was grateful to have a friend to talk to who was going through the same experiences as I was; we both work at after-school academies, so we shared a lot of stories. I often forget how a one day break with an old friend can make up for months of dissatisfaction. If there’s one thing to take away from this experience, it’s to seek adventure, and bring some friends along for the ride(s).