|Our first stop outside of Seoul was to Suwon (a one hour tube ride away but to a city with a million people!). Actually Seoul almost runs into Suwon - I think there was one green paddock separating them.
The most interesting thing about the cities here are the number of highrise apartment buildings. There are loads of them everywhere, most in the same boring design (I guess they have a huge population to fit in somewhere). Another thing we noticed on the way to Suwon, was the number of golf driving ranges. The Koreans love golf and these things are everywhere - huge green nets as they do not have enough space for the ones like in the UK or NZ.
Anyway we were impressed to find a tourist information office right outside the station who directed us to some cheap motels around the corner.
We checked in and went up to our room in the Tahiti Motel and were pretty impressed with what we had just done. The room was immaculate and had a 40 inch TV showing english channels and a DVD player with free DVDs in reception. As well as this, there was a free coffee machine in the room, free cold drinks in the fridge, an automatic toilet (actually we could not work out how to use it so had to switch it off and just use the good old fashioned flush!), a shower with 6 massage nozzles and a computer with free internet. Oh yes, and lets not forget about the free packet of condoms and two porn channels on the TV!Furthermore, downstairs in reception you could get free ice blocks (ice lollies for you english). This was all for only $45 which we were pretty impressed by!
Actually we found out that all motels here are called 'love motels' and you can rent them for a night or a few hours for a 'rest'! We stayed in these places for most of the time after this as they are such good value although the tacky outside 'castle turrets' are another matter. At least it makes them easy to find!
We managed to drag ourselves away from the motel to catch a bus to a Korean Folk village for the early afternoon. We were both quite impressed by this park which had a huge collection of thatched and tiled traditional houses to walk around - complete with old farming tools and even animals in the yards. We also got to see a traditional local Korean wedding in one of the old houses and ate in the traditional market place. They also had horsemen shows and acrobat shows to watch (we missed these two). A great place for kids to come and look at how Korean life used to be and we thought it was well worth while.
We caught the bus back into town to take a walk around Hwaseong - this is a huge fortress wall 5.7km long. It was pretty hot at this stage and we thought we would walk around the entire wall. However after getting slightly lost and extremely hot and sweaty, we only made it around half of the wall and that was enough. The wall is made of earth although has large stone blocks facing it -most of it has actually been restored though so it is not in its original state. However it is still pretty impressive with command posts, observation towers, two huge entrance gates with pavillions above them and a fire beacon platform along our walk. By this stage we were extremely hot, sweaty and bothered so wandered back to our palatial room in the motel to cool down.
For dinner that night we wandered into a local restaurant and the lady said something in Korean so I said yes and we were basically given what everybody else was eating - Samgyetang. This is a small chicken which is stuffed with rice, dates, garlic and ginseng and boiled in broth. Apparently this is another Korean staple so we were glad to have tried it, although it was a little bland.
As we wandered back to the motel, we found ourselves in the red light district with girls advertising their best parts in small rooms facing onto the street! Shaun stuck pretty close to me as we wandered through the area especially when some of them were calling out to him!
We then spent that evening watching the Beijing opening ceremony. With only a one hour time differnce between here and Beijing the coverage over here is pretty non-stop which of course Shaun is loving....