Lotte World Trip During The Lunar New Year {설날} with My Host Sister {02/04-05/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

01/04/19 Monday

In Korea 설날 or Lunar New Year was on the 5th of February this year but the day before and after are usually considered part of the New Year holiday, and so many people are off of work and take the time to visit their families outside of Seoul. Today was the day before the big holiday but my host family had nothing special planned; we decided to just chill and relax at home. Although this was the case, I did not mind that they were not doing anything traditional. I was happy to just be able to spend time with them. Additionally, my host sister had just gotten back from Japan so she was tired beyond belief.

Anyway, in the morning, we had breakfast together and then we had a Japanese snack taste test! My older host sister brought a lot of delicious and even some fancy snacks and cookies from Japan and she was kind enough to share it with all of us. She even gave me an individual small box of fancy chocolates which were delicious! I did not eat them today but I saved them for another day when I would have a sweet tooth. We got to try some corn flavored snacks, vanilla wafer cookies, red bean puffs, and some animal-shaped cookies. Not only tasty but cute too!

For the rest of the day, I tried to work on my practice Topik test but it was harder than I thought to get motivated to finish everything… so I only ended up finishing the reading test. I also did write some blog posts… but I am still so very far behind. I am talking several days behind! I ate dinner with my host sisters and we had some fun conversation. Since we were planning on going to Lotte World the next day, my host sisters told me a story about a Korean girl with long hair who went on one of those tall drop rides and got her hair and face skin ripped right off. We were eating mind you… While she told this story, I was so freaked out. But because of this conversation, I was able to tell her that I was against going on any drop rides. They were totally not for me! She was lucky that I was going to get on the roller coasters… because I am usually against those too…But I had the goal to get over my fears!

01/05/19 Tuesday

LOTTE WORLD!! Today my host sister and I left the house a little bit before 10 am and made the 1 hour and 30-minute long subway ride to Lotte World. This would be my first time going because I never got the chance to during the summer program and plans fell through when I tried going with high school friends back in October.

As soon as my eyes laid upon the entrance, I was so excited to just go in and look around. Unlike other people, I don’t frequent amusement parks so going to them is still very special to me—magical even. I went to Disney for the first time this year and I can’t even remember the last time I’ve been to 6 flags! While we were waiting in line to buy tickets {don’t even get me started on how kind my host mom is; she paid for the entire day’s expenses!}, my host sister and I noticed that the majority of people standing in line were foreigners—mostly Chinese. Because it was 설날, many people were spending the holiday with their families {many who often live outside of Seoul} and so we expected Lotte World to be practically empty. However, it seemed that many Chinese families visit Korea during the New Year. Not only that, but there were a lot of couples there as well. And lots of students wearing school uniforms—apparently there was a discount for wearing a school uniform. If only I had known, I would have just thrown on my 하나고 uniform. I’ll have to come back again with Katie and some other NSLI-Y students with our uniforms maybe!

It wasn’t empty but the crowds definitely weren’t bad and the waits for the rides weren’t ever more than an hour which was nice. Actually, the ride that ended up being my favorite {Gyro Spin} was only a 30-minute wait so we got to go on it twice! Lotte World is apparently the LARGEST indoor theme park in the world. I honestly have nothing to compare it to so I wouldn’t really know… but I believe what they say. There seemed to be so much!!! rides, games, restaurants, and lots of pretty photo zones. 

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Our first ride of the day was the Viking/pirate ship ride. I think here it was associated with Spain? I can’t quite remember the name to be honest. This is actually one of my most hated rides because I hate the feeling of air going through my stomach as the ship swings up and I also hate the feeling of extreme fear that I may fall out of the seat when it swings up so high. At Disney, I refused to ride it as the last time ended with me crying. I knew I was going to have to ride it here but I was willing to. Luckily, my sister didn’t seem afraid to ride any of te rides; however, she also wasn’t the type to really enjoy the thrill of rides so she screamed in fear with me which gave me much-needed comfort. I held so tightly onto the bars—basically gripping for my life. My feet did not stay on the floor flat, instead, they were pushed up against the backboard of the seats behind me as I tried to keep myself from feeling like I was going to fall right out. I screamed with every swing and was sourly mad at this one guy in front of me who literally rode the whole thing with the most stoic face I’ve ever seen. This guy was intense. At the end of the ride, I had tears in my eyes which surprised my host sister! 

After a good warm-up, we rode my favorite amusement park ride {swings} and this really fun roller coaster ride that had a meteor shower theme. It was one of the longest waits for the park but it was 100% worth it. The ride wasn’t actually a roller coaster I would say… but the ride itself took place in complete darkness and the coaster cars would spin around and go down steep drops {even backward suddenly}. I think what made it so thrilling was the fact that you couldn’t see what was happening in front of your eyes. Unlike huge roller coasters {specifically those on outside structures}, everything was a surprise. You couldn’t see any drops or turns approaching on the track and prepare yourself for those to happen. I loved every minute of it {though my vocal cords probably did not}. We also rode this ride called the gyro swing which had seats that you sat on as if you were mounting a bike or a horse. Then the seat secured you with some back padding that pushed you up against the front of the bike like seat. Then the ride spun around in circles up and down this track that also went over the water. This one also had the surprise element because you never exactly knew which direction the ride would swing. It was probably my favorite one of the day! 

For lunch, we went to this school cafeteria themed restaurant and ate 떡볶이 {spicy rice cakes}. I was really surprised by how relatively cheap the meal prices were at Lotte World. They weren’t the same prices of the same dishes outside of the park but seeing how big it was… I assumed the costs would be similar if not the same as Disney World. 

We also got to ride bumper cars which were honestly kind of easy to drive? Like I can’t drive in real life so this made me feel a bit better about driving… {Who am I kidding… kids can drive these cars!} However, something I realized was that most of the Koreans were too shy to really attack anyone with the cars. In fact, some people wouldn’t even hit any strangers—only the people that they came in with. In some cases, I understand this like when they were couples but still… for some rounds, it seemed they were all just driving around a track–with no collisions whatsoever. In America, most people tend to go crazy with bumping people with no reservations. That is the fun of it all!

The ride that I rode which made me proudest was the most famous ride at Lotte World: Atlantis. This is their biggest roller coaster {though I will say, it does not compare to anything big at Six Flags}. We waited in line for around an hour for a fast-paced and heart-racing couple of minutes. Honestly, I did a lot better than I expected! I was intensely shaking and sweating before going in and while the cars slowly made their way up the first large arch {hill? Not a loop… what are they called?} I was cursing myself for getting into that situation. But, it ended up being a lot of fun! My stomach got that airy feeling throughout which I really hate since it makes me feel like I’m falling but once those feelings passed, I enjoyed the fast turns and all the anticipation. I will definitely ride it again if I ever return.

We rode a few more VR and 3D technology-based games, enjoyed some popcorn chicken, and watched a quick little performance by some dancers and the Lotte World Mascots before calling it a day and heading home. 

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Andy wearing a new hat from Lotte World!

We got home pretty late and relaxed until it became 10 pm and my host sister and I were hungry for dinner. She ended up taking me to this 24-hour place near the apartment complex that sells a lot of traditional Korean foods. My host sister and I both had 콩나물국밥 which is basically rice and bean sprouts in a soup broth. It was a very simple taste. My host sister told me that it is usually eaten more regularly by older people and that it is a common hangover food. 

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콩나물국밥

And that was my day!! I spent a great 설날 with my host sister doing something that has been on my bucket list for a while now~ It was a lot of fun and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this blog post! 

  • Emma 엠마

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