Airport limousine bus to Incheon

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One nice thing about living in Pyeongtaek is that we live closer to Seoul. It makes for a nice day trip. But the airport is actually in Incheon, not Seoul, which is at least a 2 hour drive.

On our vacation to Okinawa, we decided to try the airport limousine bus instead of messing with traffic, tolls, and airport parking. It was very easy.

We called a taxi to pick us up at about 730 and then waited at the bus stop. It is the same bus stop as the 20 bus by the main gate (in front of the Volvo dealer /Christine Realty).

The purple bus was right on time, 7:55 AM. The driver got off the bus to help us store our luggage. He asked if we were going all the way to Incheon because the bus makes several stops.

The cost is very reasonable. Adults pay 13,300 won (a little less than $13) and children pay 6,700 won so our family of 3 paid a little less than $30 to get from base to the airport which I think is great for a 2.5 hour trip. You can either pay with won (exact change) or your tmoney (subway) card.

The bus was a comfortable temperature. The seats recline. Each seat has a vent and a light. There is even space overhead to put your coat and bookbag.

On the way back, you actually buy a ticket. Once you clear customs in Incheon go straight and there is a sign that says airport limousine bus. There is even a desk for foreigners.

There are two options for your trip home. You can either take Anjeong-ri outside the main gate, or you can go to Pyeongtaek Station. The bus for Pyeongtaek Station comes more often and is the same price, 13,300 won for adults and 6,700 for children.

We chose to go to Pyeongtaek Station because the next bus was in about 50 minutes instead of the 2.5 hours we would need to wait for the bus to Anjeong-ri.

The bus from Incheon to Pyeongtaek took about 2 hours (1.5 if you are going to Songtan). The bus station was closed for the night when we arrived. After leaving the bus station, turn left (towards Daiso). In a couple of blocks you will arrive at AK Plaza /Pyeongtaek train station where there is always a line of taxis waiting.

The taxi from AK Plaza to somewhere near the Anjeong-ri gate of Camp Humphreys should cost about 10,000 won ($10).

Both busses were easy to use and comfortable. I think next time, we will see which bus fits our schedule better to decide if we will leave from Anjeong-ri or Pyeongtaek bus terminal.

Seoul Grand Park Zoo

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Today, Clarissa and I took the monthy CYS trip to Seoul Grand Park Zoo with some friends. I had never been to this zoo before and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Seoul Grand Park is a subway stop on line 4. The zoo is exit 2. But you can also get to the Science Museum at exit 5.

The parking lot brings you to the bathrooms and a place to buy tickets for the elephant train that will take you to the zoo. You can walk if you prefer. The guy said it was a 15 minutes walk. But the train was super cheap. Adults pay 1,000 won (about $1.00) and little kids like Clarissa pay 700 won.

After our train ride, we bought tickets to the zoo. Adults pay 5,000 won (less than $5.00) and preschoolers are free. We thought we would also try the theme garden which also has farm animals which costs 2,000 won. A combination ticket for both was 5,600 won.

The zoo was great. We saw monkeys, giraffes, zebras, elephants, rhinoceros, lions, tigers, and bears.

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A lot of Korean zoos near Daegu were sad. But this zoo was actually very good. The animals had similar enclosures to what I see in the US. They had maps in English and Chinese in addition to Hangeul. There were also signs throughout the zoo in English. The names of animals were in English and several directional signs were in both English and Hangeul.

There are several restaurants for lunch. Plenty of Korean food but they also had a Lotteria and a Nazar Kebab. The Lotteria does not sell French fries but most of the normal menu was available. The vegetable bibimbap was good. The price for food was what you would see in town instead of inflated prices.

There was an insectarium that was pretty good. It was two floors and I really liked the layout because you could only flow in one direction. There was stroller parking outside. Clarissa really enjoyed the insects, spiders, and frogs.

There was a section on the map for a dolphin encounter and marine life so we walked all the way to the end to see them and apparently they had been released. I guess I should be happy for them. But the girls were pretty disappointed.

Thankfully, we found crocodiles, snakes, and lizards on the way back.

There were plenty of random animal statues for the girls to look at and take pictures with.

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We had to get back to the bus so we didn’t have time to do the theme garden or the farm animals. But we really enjoyed our time at the zoo. I am sure we’ll go again.

For my Camp Humphreys friends : CYS does a family field trip to Seoul every month. For $10, your family of four ($15 for families of 5 or more) rides the bus from post to the location of the field trip. The bus leaves the old CDC parking lot (across from the helicopter statue) at 9 AM and returns at 5pm. You can go anywhere you want from the location in Seoul, just be back in time for the bus. For example, last month the trip was to Lotte World. We rode the bus and then walked down the street and did Lotte World Mall and the aquarium instead. You are responsible for admission, but taking the bus is worth it to avoid traffic and parking.

Seoul: Korea War Memorial 

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Every time we visit Yongsan, we pass the Korea War Memorial. This trip, we decided to check it out. I assumed that it was about the Korean War. That is a big part of the memorial, but the museum really covers all of the wars in Korean history. 

Outside are several statues from the Korean War in the 1950s. Most of them have plaques that explain each statue in both Hangul and English. 

This one was pretty cool. The statue is two brothers. One is an officer for the South Korean army, the other a soldier for the North. It’s so easy to forget that families are still separated because of this war. Inside, it showed each of the 21 countries that fought with the South. 

There was a great gift shop. We found some cool things for the veterans in our lives. The reflection pool had a place where you could buy food to feed the fish. We paid our 1,000 won, but the fish weren’t interested. 

In front of the museum were flags for the United Nations and the individual countries who helped during the Korean War. 

The inside of the museum had several different sections and memorials. Most things were in Hangul and English. I think it would take a few hours to see everything. This would have been better if Clarissa was a bit older and we had studied Korean history. But she did enjoy seeing the different boats and weapons. 

When Clarissa saw this model of Hwaseong Fortress, she asked if it was The Great Wall. I explained to her that mommy and daddy walked this Hwaseong Fortress before she was born in 2012 but one of our next trips will be China so we can walk on the Great Wall. 

Back outside, there are several planes, boats, tanks, and missles. Some South Korean, some American, and some captured from the North. 

Behind the machines was a children’s museum. The children’s museum was…interesting. Admission was free but you needed a ticket. Tickets were for a specific time: 9-950, 10-1050, etc. We arrived at 1130 and they were hesitant to give us a ticket for 11-1150.

The museum was very small. There were a few activities, mostly in Hangul. Each station had an ajumma attendant. Some were nicer than others. One lady was trying to push us through because of time but we still had ten minutes left. That was frustrating. The coolest part was this exhibit. 

The top picture is Korea today. The bottom picture is during the war. Same exhibit, just from a different angle. 

It might be worth it to go at the beginning of a time slot, but Clarissa was content to look at the big things outside. There was a place to park your stroller as you entered the children’s museum. 

Seoul: Insadong and Museums 

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We started our Wednesday morning at the largest Kyoto bookstore in Seoul. They had a very large English section and a reading area for kids complete with a world map. It was mostly college textbooks and children’s books with a large section of books perfect for homeschooling. 

Next we headed to Insadong.

 We walked through Tapgol Park to see some architecture.  

Insadong is my favorite place to shop in Seoul. There are street vendors and shops all over the place selling traditional Korean items and crafts. I found something for everyone on my Christmas list. 

We had lunch at Cafe Hollywood on one of the side streets. It is an Asian fusion restaurant so they have traditional Korean food but they also have things like pizza and French fries. They have a Cafe on the first floor and a restaurant on the second. The fresh squeezed juices are amazing. 

Clarissa’s favorite part of Insadong was Dr Fish. For 9,000 won, you put your feet in the water and little fish come and eat the dead skin off your feet. At first, she was afraid because it tickled. But by the end, she let them nibble her hand. Apparently my feet are the most gross, becoming the fish seemed to like me best… 

After Insadong, we took the subway to Children’s Grand Park to see the Seoul Children’s Museum. Admission costs 4,000 won per person but children under 3 are free. It was well worth the cost. There were 4 floors of exhibits that all of us enjoyed. You could pretend to be blind and get on the subway, learn about animals or space, play dress up, build a house, or play with water. Most exhibits were explained in both Hangul and English. If we lived here, we would buy a membership. I think the museum is geared towards kids second grade and under. 

On Thursday we headed to the Gwacheon National Science Museum. It costs 4,000 won for adults and 3,000 won for kids age 7-13 (Korean age). Honestly, we were not impressed with the museum itself. Most exhibits were in Hangul only. Several were broken or closed, including the dinosaurs. The space section was pretty good. 

There were also a few dinosaurs outside. 

There was a planetarium and a space world you could pay extra for, but Clarissa wasn’t old enough. She did really enjoy the insectarium though. 

They had an exhibit at the end that showed how people could eat insects that we thought was funny. 

Seoul: Walking and Shopping 

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Tim wanted a birthday trip to Seoul. With his work schedule, we decided to go early instead of later in the summer. Pyeongtaek is much closer to Seoul than Daegu so our drive was about an hour and 15 minutes. We arrived well before check in so we just left everything in the car and headed out with the stroller. 

Tim wanted to check out Video Game Alley, which is part of an electronics market behind ipark mall. Many of the vendors had cool things, but the prices were way above retail. 

Ipark Mall is undergoing renovation so it was confusing to find certain sections. But we found some really cool things in the Gundam store, Lego Store, and the Studio Ghibli Collection on the third floor. 

We had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen before heading to Times Square Mall. The mall was nice, but expensive and did not have the electronics that Tim was looking for. But it did have some stores that Clarissa and I enjoyed for toys and stationary. 

We tried a different electronics market with no luck. It was funny because Tim had a list of places that he wanted to shop but wasn’t finding what he was looking for but everywhere we went Clarissa and I found something. 

On Tuesday, we headed to Olympic Park. It was a pretty park with random statues and monuments from the 1988 Olympics. I always enjoy seeing the flags from the different countries. It was cool because there was also a list of each event and who won each medal. 

Clarissa made a friend who was feeding fish. She enjoyed feeding the fish until the food was gone. Then she tried chasing pigeons. 

There is a nice playground in Olympic Park. Actually there are several, but Clarissa really enjoyed this one near the flags. 

You could see Lotte World Mall from the park, so we walked instead of taking the subway. 

Our first stop was the Aquarium. If we lived in Seoul, we would have annual passes. It was supposed to cost 29,000 won for an adult and 23,000 won for a child, but we showed our passports and received a discount so we only paid 63,000 won total. 

It was the best aquarium we have seen in Korea so far (we have seen 4). The tanks were all very clean. Ambient music played in the background. You could pay 1,000 won to feed fish or 2,000 won to give a bottle to some koi fish. 

The Aquarium is on b1 of the Lotte World Mall. The mall itself was great. There were several floors. Each of us could find things we were excited about. 

We read about a Teddy Bear Zoo. Once we got there, I realized it wasn’t really a museum, but a kid’s cafe. It cost 19,000 won for kids and 7,000 won for adults for two hours. Clarissa had a great time on the trampolines, in the ball pit, playing with Legos, climbing on the slide, and even riding a mechanical zebra. 

After the Teddy Bear Zoo, we headed to Coex Mall for dinner. We ate the best Mexican I have had in Korea so far at a place called On the Border. It was a little pricey, but so delicious. 

They have been remodeling the mall the past few years and it is finally finished. There were stores for each of us as well as a library. The YP Bookstore has a decent English section. Tim was able to find something on his list at the Gundam store. 

Our first two days in Seoul were really long. Clarissa did well with a late bedtime and Tim’s phone said we walked over 54,000 steps over the two days. 

Shopping near Pyeongtaek 

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One of Tim’s favorite places in Daegu was Shinsagae Mall. When we first moved to Pyeongtaek, he realized that there was a Shinsagae Mall in the nearby town of Cheonan so we decided to check it out. 

The parking was awful. People walked in front of the garage entrance and it was necessary to make a uturn at the light to get anywhere near it. There were nine floors in the garage but it was very full on a Saturday at noon. We ended up with one of the last spots on the roof. The mall was attached to the bus station and had an emart in the basement. The layout was confusing, not much was in English, and the elevators were hard to find. There also weren’t many stores that we were interested in. 

I did buy this bag from H&M. Couldn’t resist for 9,000 won (about $8). 

There was a Korean Subway restaurant across the street. Tim has wanted to go to a Korean Subway since the ones in Japan had interesting sandwiches. But the line was so long we couldn’t get in the door so we just left. 

Another weekend we decided to try First Village in Asan. First Village is an outlet mall about 15 minutes from Camp Humphreys. The parking was great. They had plenty of shoe stores and camping/outdoor type stores. The prices didn’t seem very discounted for what we were interested in. However, I did enjoy the store Ross by Asia. It did remind me of the Ross in the US in that there were lots of cheap, name brand clothes. They were just Asian and European brands. But I did manage to find a shirt, leggings, bathing suit cover up, and two pairs of shorts for 35,000 won (like $30).

There was a dressing room. It was a typical Korean style fitting room. Very small with the mirror on the outside of the fitting room. 

There was also a really cute area with French looking shops and restaurants. Clarissa was over it so we didn’t get a chance to explore and take pictures. 

We have been to the Lotte Mall in Suwon twice. The first time we drove and the second time we took the train. Either way is fine. The parking wasn’t bad there. 

There is a Lotte Mart, Lotte Mall, and Lotte Department store all in the same complex. The Lotte Mart is 3 stories and contains a Toys R Us with two different play places, a Daiso, and a Hi Mart. For our first visit, we dropped Clarissa off at the smaller play place (6,000 won per hour) and let her play while we bought her birthday presents at Toys R Us and explored the rest of Lotte Mart. 

After we picked her up, we played some of arcade games before heading to the mall part of the complex. 

The mall has 7 floors with stores, restaurants, and a movie theater. They do have a TGI Fridays if you are in the mood for American food. The Bandi and Lunis does have a small English section of books and movies. On the roof is a very nice playground. 

Next is Lotte Department store, which is like your typical Korean department store with a food court on B1, expensive stores with any kind of shopping you can imagine, and restaurants on the seventh floor, including Tim’s favorite curry place, Coco Ichibanya. There is a kid cafe on the seventh floor as well. The eighth floor roof was probably our favorite. It had some beautiful picnic areas, a city view, coin machines for children to ride, as well as a free train ride for the kids.  

There is a covered bridge walkway from the Lotte complex to AK Plaza Suwon (train station), or rather there will be when they remove the construction equipment. It was still quite easy to get from one to the other. There seems to be two different sides of the Plaza with the train station on one side and a mall on the other. There were several name brand clothing and shoe stores as well as cute stationary stores, restaurants, and a movie theater. I bought some cute things for homeschooling and our kitchen at a store called Butter. It reminded me of a small but upscale Daiso. Tim was excited that a Gundam store will open July 1. 

AK Plaza in Pyeongtaek is also attached to the train station and considered “downtown” near several stores and restaurants. The Plaza itself is similar to the one in Suwon with restaurants, a movie theater, clothes, and shoes. If you are in the mood for American food, there is an Outback. Tim’s favorite is a Japanese place called Teriyaki. 

Downtown, my favorite stores were Daiso and Artbox, which you can pretty much see from the bus stop in front of the train station. 

3/8 Market Tour with One Stop Realty 

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On Saturday, Danny from One Stop Realty  offered a tour of the 3/8 Market in Anjeong-ri. The market meets on days that have either a 3 or 8. I have been several times but didn’t recognize everything in the market. 

The tour began at One Stop which is on a road that runs parallel to the main shopping cobblestone street in Anjeong-ri. There is ample parking near his office if you have a car. 

We left shortly after 11 and headed to the market. The first stop was grains. Plain white rice is bad for your cholesterol. Often at a restaurant, your white rice will be mixed with a grain to make it healthier. The black one turns your rice purple and it is supposed to keep your hair black instead of turning gray. 

Then we passed the river fishing nets. The rivers in Korea look wide, but most are only knee deep. This fishing tent collects smaller fish that would feed one person. 

We learned two important words as we passed the stands that sold dried fruit, nuts, and other snacks. “Mott” (like the applesauce) means “taste.” So if you see something you are curious about, point to the food, say “Mott” and point to your mouth. The other word was “service” which means “free.” So when you pick out your food say “service?” and they may add something extra to your bag. 

He explained about the various seafood. Apparently the small octopus are not babies. There are just small species of octopus. You tell the man which fish you want, and he will debone it for you. 

Danny’s sister in law was on the tour as well and was very knowledgeable about herbs and spices. She explained about different herbs that could be used for to make medicinal teas. If anyone on the tour had a question she could not answer, she or Danny would just ask the stand owner and then translate the answer. 

One of booths sold eggs. These eggs are the same color inside as outside. They are slow boiled all day at a jimjilbang (bathhouse). The rice cakes are made from the rice that sticks to the bottom of the rice cooker. 

The market also had plenty of fruits and vegetables, desserts, as well as fresh homemade seaweed, tofu, side dishes, and noodles. Sometimes you pay a little more for the homemade items at the market than the store, but it is usually made fresh that morning or the day before. 

After our tour, we went back to One Stop for lunch. The tour itself was free and then he served a traditional pork belly barbecue lunch for 10,000 won (less than $10). The food was delicious, though I forgot to take pictures. 

In addition to offering market tours, One Stop Realty also offers cooking classes. He does not even have to be your realtor to attend these events, he just does it as a service to the Camp Humphreys community. If you need a realtor or need help with translation, airport transportation, or a local move, Danny is your guy.