Sunday, August 16, 2009
A Day in Ilsan: Lake Park, More Engrish, Shopping and Foooood.
This is going to be a long post because today was FULL of fun things. Nick and I decided to use our Sunday to explore Ilsan Lake Park, which we had read about before coming to Korea and we have wanted to visit pretty much since day one. But first, we stopped at a local place for some delicious bbq...thick pieces of marinated and herb spiced pork with loads of bbq garlic, cabbage salad, spicy green onions, red bean chili paste, lettuce, marinated onions, bean sprouts and more.
We took the subway four stops to get to Ilsan. While on the subway we met two men who were very inclined to practice their English with us. One in particular was quite amusing. He proudly told us that he was off to visit his girlfriend and that his wife would be very upset if she found out. He also asked Nick where he could get "fancy" sunglasses like his. Then he gave us walnut candies. I know I know, taking candy from strangers is a bad thing...but they were pretty tasty. We got to our stop and left our interesting subway companion. We walked up the stairs out of the subway to a HUGE plaza with massive sculptures. While walking across the plaza a man stopped us and asked us if we would be willing to congratulate him for his upcoming wedding on camera, they were filming a ton of people to play during the wedding...we were a little confused but said sure, smiled at the camera and said "congratulations, Jason!" and were given humongous delicious lollipops as a thank you. More awesome candy from strangers. We crossed the street to get to the park which was gigantic.
The lake is beautiful, it is the largest man made lake in Korea. There were picturesque shaded spots, loads of picnic-ers, fantastic flower gardens, meandering paths...if you walked around the entire lake you'd pretty much have walked the distance of a marathon. We tried to take in as much as we could, climbing all the pagodas we found, walking on mini docks and raised boardwalks over gorgeous lily pad ponds, checking out Japanese gardens and random caged cranes...it was all breathtaking. We loved the Cactus Exhibit and took a ton of pictures of all the different cacti.
It was HOT outside though...32 degrees celsius, which is around 90 degrees and muggy. I was dying in the sticky hot until we stumbled upon the "musical fountains" which were loads of fun. They were also overrun by children screaming and playing in the water and mini waterfalls as the fountains splashed up. I got my feet wet...okay maybe a lot more than my feet, haha. But it was good fun.
We also truly enjoyed people watching at this park. There were people out with their little dogs, people bicycling, little children playing everywhere, people napping, relaxing, eating, hanging out...it was clearly a popular place to be. We were very amused with some boys playing in the lake, they were throwing each other's shoes farther and farther into the water. We also some some really cute little kids.
After several hours of roaming the park we decided to check out LaFesta, which is a great shopping area in Ilsan. We found loads more "engrish" which made us laugh out loud on multiple occasions. We wandered through the shops for an hour or two and then decided on grabbing some dinner before heading back home. We had some delicious Chinese food at a Chinese Bistro in Western Dom (one of the huge outdoor multi-level malls in the area) - lemon chicken and shrimp fried rice with the black bean sauce we have come to love so much - and then passed by this fun little dessert place that we decided to try. They had cushioned rocking chairs and swinging benches for seats (unfortunately all the swings were taken) and we had super fresh strawberry ice cream with whipped cream, apple slices, bananas, watermelon chunks and pineapple. Also, they gave us several slices of plain toast to have with our ice cream...odd to us but probably the norm here in South Korea.
Now, after almost 8 straight hours of exploring, we are back in our comfy little apartment and relaxing before school starts tomorrow.