Seoul Amusement Park

9 Apr

Friday6 April

When my school first invited me to attend the Seoul 1s Grade outing to the Lotte World Amusement Park, I decided to go purely because it was one tourist destination I could tick off my list. I didn’t realise that it would be an essential part of making friends with my staff and fitting into Korean culture.

Ju, an English speaking teacher at my school, offered to fetch me at 6.10am on Friday morning so we could catch the school bus at 6.30. She arrived at my apartment with homemade coffee for the road which I used primarily to keep me warm in the chilly hours of that morning. 3 hours later, we had arrived at Seoul Lotte World and outpoured 180 excited Korean girls dressed in tiny shorts with skin coloured stockings pretending that they weren’t freezing! Fashion is everywhere!!

Into the crowds they dissipated and Ju grabbed my arm and dragged me through the crowds. The teachers stuck together in the morning trying out some of the slower rides which I was grateful for. The day started with a slow train ride through the amusement park on the metrorail. After a short fruit snack, we ventured onto  a boat tube which sloshed through a river causing screeches from the female staff. It was then, at 10.30 in the morning, Korean style, that out came the soju whiskey and everyone was given shots in a dark corridor behind the ride. The funny thing is that it’s not hidden – in Korean culture, it’s perfectly normal to drink on a school outing.  A few teachers rode the pony ride which is usually a good setting for a horror film while the more adventurous (including me) braved the Viking – a big ship with rocked back and forth.

This signalled lunch time where they continued to drink 8 bottles of wine between 10 people in less than 2 hours. Not having much to contribute to the conversation, I ventured off alone to find more rides and visit the museum.  By this time, the park was so full that the waiting lines for the popular rides were so long that children were waiting for an hour. I did manage to find a few more quiet children’s rides and walked through the museum.

Upon returning to Yeongju, the staff announced that we were having a school staff dinner, where we went for grilled pork and more (many more) bottles of Soju. By this time, my fellow Korean teachers are so well oiled with alcohol that they are speaking English so confidently that I felt fully involved in the conversation (aided by a very fluent English teacher who played translater.) I think Korean’s have been taught to compliment in English because I was showered with compliments that evening. After “stage one” as they call it, we moved to a wine bar where they order more bottles of wine and more food (even though we’d been eating for the last 3 hours). Eventually everyone left their separate ways to catch taxis homes – no one had even driven to the restaurant because they knew they’d be too drunk to drive home.

It turned into a very fun evening getting to know the other teachers in my school.


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