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.

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. 

Girls trip to Osan and Mother’s Day 

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One of the perks of Tim working at Camp Humphreys is that we are still in Korea. We are also close to Osan, which is where many of my Daegu friends like to go shopping. I was very excited that some of my friends came to Osan last weekend so I joined their fun. 

The girls went to Happy Quilt for a couple hours of fabric shopping. It is a massive warehouse full of cheap fabrics in Pyeongtaek. 

Then we met up at Chili’s for lunch. We were clearly craving Mexican food because we all ordered either nachos, quesadillas, or enchiladas. 

We stopped at the px for some things not available at the Daegu px. Then we headed to Songtan shopping area for some socks. 

There were many to choose from. You could choose 3 pairs for 5,000 won (less than $5). I found some for Clarissa, myself, and Tim (Star Wars). 

On our way to another fabric store, we walked past an antique store that the ladies wanted to check out. Mike’s auction house has a ton of cool Korean antiques. He goes to demolition sites and picks up things like traditional old doors and roof tiles and turns them into really cool furniture. He has an auction on the first and third Saturday of each month.

Mike is a really friendly guy. He is American so he speaks English. He has a truck and will deliver items to the Camp Humphreys area. 

My favorite was the roof tiles. His wife paints them. For $20 you can choose a tile and she will write something on it for you. We each chose one and will have our last name written in both English and Hangeul. 

Then we crossed the street, went under the train tracks, and to the main road to turn right and found the Stinky Knit (in Waze). It smelled a little like mothballs but there was cheap fabric everywhere. 

After I said goodbye to the girls, I went home to celebrate Mother’s Day with Tim and Clarissa. Clarissa made me a card with stickers. They also chose something for me in a local souvenir shop. 

Then we headed down the street to The Big Bite. They had delicious American food at good prices. Plus it is like a quarter mile walk from our apartment so Clarissa could ride her bike there. The waiting area outside was nice as well. I know we will go back. 

Market Day 

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One of the reasons we love our new apartment is the location. We can walk to base in about 10 minutes. I walk through Anjeong-ri “the ville” to get to base. There are several shops and restaurants. 

On days that end in either 3 or 8, there is a market day. Clarissa and I went to our first market day on Thursday after storytime. 

Along the Anjeong-ri shopping street, on the end away from the base, you will see tents set up the length of the side road. The stands sell fresh produce, snacks, clothes, handbags, live seafood, toys, and even birds. 

Clarissa was most excited about the live crabs and octopus. She kept trying to touch them. She thought that the birds were pretty but too loud. 

She was also very adamant about buying a watermelon. I told her that if she didn’t eat the watermelon, she would not be allowed to choose things on market day. 

She did eat her watermelon. I will definitely make market day part of our regular schedule. The produce is way cheaper and more fresh than the commissary because it is local. 

Beartree Park 

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About 10 years ago, the South Korean government decided that they wanted to move some of their governing activities further south. They decided to build a new city.

We drove from our new home at Camp Humphreys about a half hour on rural highways to get to Sejong to see Beartree Park

Admission for Clarissa was 8,000 won. Tim and I cost 13,000 won each to get in. We paid about $30 total. You are not allowed to bring food into the park. They will ask when you try to enter. 

The park was beautiful. It was made up of several different gardens. The path from place to place was stroller friendly. But several gardens had signs to park your stroller and not bring it on the garden path. 

Our first stop was the koi pond. Clarissa had a great time feeding the fish. You could buy food for 1,000 won. 

We visited several different gardens on the way to the food court. 

There was an actual restaurant in addition to the food court, but I don’t know what they serve there. There were four traditional options at the food court. We ordered some bibimbap and mandu and ate at a picnic table outside. It was tasty. I prefer my bibimbap with meat though. 

Next was a garden with some bear statues. Clarissa and I had fun pretending to play with the bears. 

Then was the main event. There were two different areas to feed the bears. You could pay 1,000 won for either a cup of cut carrots or a cup of pastry ball looking things. First, we saw the younger bears. Some of them were asleep. But some of them were pretty good at catching the food in their mouths. 

Then, we went to see the big bears. They were excellent at catching food in their mouths. 

Behind the bears was a small park with animal statues. 

There is an observatory but we could see plenty without bothering with that. The brochure said you could also feed deer and listed a petting zoo and a playground so we had other priorities. 

The brochure was misleading. There were deer in a fenced area. There may have been food available earlier in the day, but by 1pm when we were there, no one was selling food. It definitely wasn’t a petting zoo. There were animals that you might keep as pets. Corgis, Guinea pigs, rabbits, sheep, goats. But you weren’t allowed to touch them. There were also peacocks, ducks, and other birds in an unaccessible area. Both times we tried a “petting zoo” in Korea it was like that too. I think they just have a different definition of petting zoo. Clarissa enjoyed seeing the animals just the same. 

The brochure said you could take a walk with a baby bear. That definitely didn’t happen. There were baby bears in the petting zoo area but there was a big sign that said not to touch them. 

We passed more gardens on our way out. There wasn’t actually a playground. There was an area that looked like they might do shows. But nothing was happening at that time. 

We enjoyed our afternoon at Beartree Park. We may go back again before we leave. 

Everland

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Tim lived in Korea ten years ago, so he has seen several things. He said that the best amusement part to go to is Everland. He claimed that the zoo alone made it worth the trip, and he was correct!

Thursday morning we woke up and headed downstairs to the breakfast buffet in our hotel. There were several options available. Some Korean flavors as well as more traditional western breakfast items.

Waze said it was a 30 minute drive to Everland from the hotel. The subway was 43 minutes, so we decided we would rather take the train and not have to deal with traffic or parking.

While switching subway lines, we had to take an elevator. It was the slowest elevator ever. We got there with several people and there wasn’t enough room for us that round. There are six minutes between trains, and it seriously took us longer than six minutes to wait for this elevator. It was two steep flights of stairs and the escalator was blocked in the middle so the stroller couldn’t go through. So we waited…

There was a shuttle bus to take guests from the bus and subway terminal to the gates of Everland. Tim ordered tickets at a discount ahead of time. On the train we realized that we forgot to bring them with us. Thankfully, the email had a barcode so that was all we needed to get in.

We attracted quite an audience while applying our sunscreen. A young college group thought that Clarissa was the cutest thing ever! They wanted to take pictures with her, but she refused. Not that she was happy about the sunscreen either.

The zoo is pretty close to the main entrance of the park. The first animals we saw were the pandas. They have two pandas at Everland and they just arrived in April so they were pretty popular. The line wasn’t horribly long though.

The girl panda is about five weeks older than Clarissa and was actually born on Tim’s birthday July 13, 2013. The boy panda was a year older and also a July birthday. They were resting when we got there because it was already at least 85 degrees. At the gift shop area, Clarissa chose a stuffed panda whom she named “baby Po” like Kung Fu Panda. She held that panda all day!

Next we went to see the birds. There were several different species including penguins and flamingos. There was even an enclosed bird area where you could pay 1,000 won (less than $1) for bird food and feed the birds yourself. Tim decided to try that. The birds did come right up to him and Clarissa really enjoyed watching the birds eat from his hand.

A lot of the larger animals we saw were asleep for lunchtime. The lions, tigers, seals, and sea lions were all visible but sleeping. The polar bear was awake though.

Then we went to monkey world. There were so many different kinds of monkeys! Clarissa was very excited about them.

After leaving the monkeys, there was a crowd of teenagers around a man holding a small animal. We were allowed to pet the fennec fox. Clarissa was very happy about this as well.

Next we saw more foxes, wallabies, and kangaroos at Ranch world before heading to my favorite part of the day, the safari. The line was about twenty minutes long, but so worth it! We climbed into a vehicle that could drive on land and water (reminded me of the duck boats in Boston). We saw camels, zebras, hippos, elephants, rhinos, and more.

A giraffe came right up to our vehicle and the tour guide fed it leaves through the window!

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By this time we were getting hungry. We weren’t thrilled with the menu at the first restaurant. While we were looking at the outdoor menu, Clarissa took a few leaves off a bush. When I looked at her she was trying to give them to her stuffed panda. “I’m feeding baby Po.”

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We decided to finish the zoo and head to lunch. There was one more bird area and a petting zoo. But it wasn’t really a petting zoo… You could pay to feed an animal with a long spoon. But you weren’t allowed to touch any animals.

Then I saw that you could pay to ride a pony or a camel. I got excited for Clarissa. She said she would ride the pony. We paid 5,000 won for our ticket and waited in line. She was fine until I accidentally called it a horse. When it was her turn, I tried to put her on the pony and she flipped out. But we were all hungry and it was naptime so it didn’t happen. Maybe after lunch or earlier in the day would have been better… Next time.

For those who are interested, camel rides are 7,000 won. I rode a camel through the desert once. Not very comfortable. But for five minutes is probably fun.

We were all in much better moods after lunch. The amusement park part of Everland reminds me of Busch Gardens with the different sections of continent themed rides and restaurants.

Clarissa was too short for most rides. But she was tall enough to ride the Thomas train around the magical garden.

All day long refused to smile for pictures but demanded that I take her picture with Percy.

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After that we decided to head back towards the hotel for dinner and some playtime before bed.

Of course, she had to open the door herself!

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