[Northern Marianas, USA], Palau, South Korea and Taiwan.
We are Birgitte and Erik with our two children (5 and 7) - Johanne and
12. March – Seoul
days here were like spring (16 degrees), and in Seoul Grand
Children's Park, it seemed like half of the city was here - nice. The
food is great, as is the French breakfast shop across the street where
we buy too much pastry and latte's.
13. March – Seoul – Yoido Full Gospel Church
Cho’s congregation is by far the largest in the world –
supposedly 850.000 members, and when planning this trip, I had thought
about a visit here.
out with late breakfast at one of the millions coffee shops
around our hotel. It is a Paris pastry shop and we all agree that it is
better than the baker at Kvickly at home.
The subway of
Seoul is a bliss – easy and quick. Youido island in the
middle of the river – a small Manhattan. The church has a block of
buildings and when we were 4 blocks from the church, entering from the
park, suddenly all roads were full of busses and cars. 4 policemen in
every crossing and loads of people crossing. It was changing time from
the 11 o’clock service to the 13 service. 20.000 people changing within
half an hour. A car park with only busses behind (40 busses for this
service?) Entering the church, 12:50, there was singing and we were
guided up to the third floor of the dome, white clad helpers guiding us
to the area assigned to people needing translations – translations into
7 languages. The dome was huge and everybody neatly seated with 7-8
people per row, the quire was in white robes with an added philharmonic
orchestra and an opera singer; a pastor leading the singing flanked by
swaying women. Pastor Yon-gi Cho was quietly seated behind until his
sermon of about 45 minutes. He is now 70 and only has the 13:00
service, but he looked very well, and started with jokes about planning
for the future now that we live an extra 25 years. The sermon was well
made with a story line with bible texts explained and flavored with
several stories from his life explaining the points. The service was in
a way traditional, but also different in many ways, like the orchestra
and some of the quire songs were reminding of some of the North Korea
singings often seen (no offence). Another ‘strange’ thing was a minute
where suddenly the translator stopped translating, but Yon-gi Cho was
obviously still talking and everybody else also started
talking/singing. Until I realized it was individual prayers / speaking
in tongues. It was ended by a small bell chiming. So much for the
service, again changing time for the 15:00 service, and
judging by the new people arriving, it must be more for the youth. It
was a good experience, and again we marveled at the logistics of the
A couple of
links: Yoido Full Gospel Church: http://english.fgtv.com/ and http://www.davidcho.com/
Attendances statistics – take a look at: http://celycecomiskey.tripod.com/new_page_11.htm
We spent some
time in the nearby Yoido park, had a coffee and a snack,
before heading to the Namdaemun market (much like all markets in Asia).
We took the cable car up to Namsan mountain at sunset with views over
the city. We went up the N Seoul Tower, but is was too hazy to really
see far. Heading home, we found one of the Korean barbeque shops where
each table has a small barbeque – it was great, and everybody was happy.
Now, just an
update of some of the things we have seen in Seoul and
South Korea. First, we were worried about the language - and that they
spoke worse English than in Japan - and that says a lot. Well, we
should not have worried - they can both ask 'here/to go?' and say
'hot/cold?' when buying a Café Latte... OK, but seriously, there are
actually many who can say much more than that, surprisingly, and the
Subway is working excellent and easy.
We have been
to the Gyeongbokgung palace, where the children where very
impressed with the guard (see picture), and the adjoining museum was
quite interesting - also a 'children museum' where the children could
try to be dressed up.
Tour to the
DMZ - the Demilitarized Zone - the border to North Korea.
The most interesting part is the Panmunjeom place where the two nations
face each other directly - but children under 10 years cannot go there.
So we could only go to other nearby places, like the unification
bridge, the Dora observatory where we could look into North Korea. One
thing that surprised me was that there was a town in DMZ with South
Korea factories having North Korea labours (for much smaller wages).
visited the 3rd infiltration tunnel - one of the tunnels made
by North Korea into the south. You go down with a small mono-rail to 73
meters underground and can go into the tunnel, quite close to the North
fish market – right off the station (the direction can be
smelled). Very good with fish, shellfish, rays, crabs, lobsters,
octopuses, squid and much more. Many of the sellers had learned to say
‘obster’ – probably what tourists would buy. A huge hall with many
stalls. Upstairs you can have your fish prepared for lunch. The locker
was not big enough for the one suitcase we had brought, so had to tag
further on for 45 minutes to the ‘suburb’ town of Suwon (900.000
inhabitants). A taxi to the hotel we had booked, and somehow we got the
‘royal suite’ for the twin room price. Very nice, with one of these old
projector tv’s, where the picture is projected on a glass front plate.
The only problem was that the room was icy cold and the only warmth was
from a heater in the roof.
known for it’s huge fortress walls surrounding the center of
town – the king had at one time build this to move here from Seoul, but
he died and the next king decided to stay in Seoul. We had a niced walk
along the walled city and took the dragon train to the end station.
Here one could try bow and arrow, and it was the highest wish of Anders
- but he was not allowed, until all other spectators interferred -
though he could only pull the strings, not shoot.
is supposedly the 4th largest amusement park in the world. We
took a bus from Suwon (ticket counter left of the station), 40 minutes.
It was a good day to go; hardly any people, and no waiting time
anywhere. It was quite large, but still ok to see ‘everything in a day.
Surprised it should be among the biggest. Much of the things were
Tivoli-like, that is rides of different kinds, but some of the things
were quite good, like the 3D movie with moving effects and the ‘rolling
hanted hause’ where turn around completely – it feels so, but in fact
much of the turning is the walls, but it feels real. Our favorite was a
ride through a haunted house with laser guns to shoot the ghosts and
stuff. At the end, you all get a score (I won of course every time).
There were many high-fives with the count letting us in when we
returned. The park was spotless; lots of people, even on roller blades,
picking up scraps and leaves. Several of the attractions were closed,
like the steepest wooden roller coaster in the world. A amazon jungle
ride down a stream made Johanne wet, but there were driers at the end.
A popular safari ride was with a bus with tigers outside on the road, a
small zoo and a sections with bears that were fed with biscuits making
them stand up and do tricks to much amusement of the Koreans.
We took the
local bus back to Suwon, costing nothing – it even passed
the hotel, so we could get off there. Barbeque dinner at a restaurant
next to the hotel, so much joy of us all. No English, so we didn’t get
our beer until we had found a word for it in the guidebook.
to the YMCA hotel in Seoul, sandwich at Subway next to the
hotel, and next to the National Palace museum that was closed Monday.
Many interesting things.
There is a
nearby (to the hotel) opened part of the river and it was
nice to take an evening stoll here (though cold). Dinner (again) at the
good Italian restaurant near the hotel.
South Korea in a few words: North Face down jackets, coffe bars,
smoking (but taking care and not in restaurants), hot pants even when
Tips and trip planning
There relevant guide books are the following:
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