Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lotte World class trip

Last week, after our mid-term exams, our Korean class had a "cultural outing." Once more we went to an amusement park, this time "Lotte World," which holds the Guiness world record for largest in-door theme park. Wandering the park with a group of my Chinese classmates, I enjoyed myself more than I expected. First we all rode on the extremely slow-moving carousel, famous for featuring in one of my all-time favorite Korean dramas, "Cheonguk ui Gyedan" (Stairway to Heaven). Then we got on the "hot-air balloon" ride to get a birds-eye view of the park and identify which rides had the shortest lines. From our high vantage point we could also look down on the ice-skating rink and see some very young future Kim-Yunas-in-training practicing their spins.

My favorite ride of the day was the "Gyro-Swing," in the outdoor portion of the park, which was a rotating wheel of seats on the end of a hammer that swung back and forth, causing me to produce screams I hadn't known I was capable of. Very good for stress-relief. Another highlight was having lunch with my Chinese classmates at a Korean-style Chinese restaurant. Of course, now that I'm the only non-Chinese person left, it's unavoidable that I get stuck in the middle of a lot of animated conversations in Chinese that I can't understand. Although they do their best to stick to Korean when I'm around, I can't help but feel that my presence is a hindrance to them sometimes.

The lines weren't too bad - the longest we had to wait was about 30 minutes. While waiting, the park provided excellent opportunities for people-watching. I especially enjoyed the girls in extremely short skirts and spiked heels, competing to see who could make more of a display of draping themselves around their boyfriends. Also the park was full of groups of kids in matching school uniforms out for their class trip. Their teachers didn't seem to regulate much which rides they were allowed to do, and I saw a few little ones crying while walking out of the scarier rides, but overall I was impressed with their fearlessness.

Around 3 pm, the parade started. Colorful cartoon characters, dancers, and floats wound their way around the park on a pre-cleared path. At the very end was a float of good-looking young guys in heavy make-up smiling and waving at the crowd. From the female reaction I gathered that they must be some sort of celebrities, and later my friend confirmed that they were members of the boy band "UKISS."

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