Monday, 13 October 2008

13 Oct -- Won, Don't leave home without it

So we decided to go out and do something today. Dan looked up how to get to the Seoul Grand Park (AKA, Seoul Zoo) and we brought our Everland passes, just in case things didn't pan out. We loaded up the kids and were in the car by our set time, 8:30AM (this is an impressive feat, I will say). We realize we have no Korean Won for the tolls. No problem, we'll stop at the ATM before we leave base. No need to fill up on gas since we have a half a tank and aren't going too far.
Here's how our day went from there:
-ATMs on base wouldn't dispense Won, so I got dollars
-Money Exchanges off base were not open yet
-Foreign ATM wouldn't accept a foreign card
-Korean bank where I'd exchanged money in a previous situation was not open
-We scrounge around and pull together 2,900W (approx. $2.25) and decide that's enough for
tolls one way
-We contemplate going to Everland as we know we have enough Won for those tolls and that the kids will do great, but we decide to be bold and go for the Zoo
-Hit the tolls, 2,400W paid (Phew!)
-Get to the Zoo and realize that there is a parking fee of 3,000W (about $2.50), Dan gets out and runs up to the kiosks in search of a Korean ATM that will take our American card...no luck. We try to bribe the parking attendant with a $5 bill, but he is not to be bought.
-Since we can't go back towards Everland (due to our lack of toll money now), we decide to drive on north to Yongsan Army Garrison (in Seoul) to eat lunch, hit the ATM there and then find something to do.
-We get to Yongsan and they won't let us on base due to an expired car sticker
-We drive to the visitor's gate but can't get a day-pass due to an expired registration paper
-We walk on base and take a taxi to the food court for lunch and track down an ATM where Anna takes out enough Won to get us through the entire country's toll system
-Back to the car and a decision to try to drive to the Seoul Tower (a great lookout point of Seoul)
-No signs or easy, straight roads get us to the Tower so we turn around
-We decide to go to the COEX mall to see their aquarium, but miss seeing any signs and soon find ourselves back at the exit for the Zoo. We feel our efforts must not be in vain, so we head back and sheepishly hand over our Won to the same attendant who denied us earlier
-We spend a nice afternoon walking around the zoo and having our children flirt with the hoards of Korean folks who can't get enough of blue eyes and blond/red hair
-We head home and hold our breath as we somehow get by the gate guards with our expired sticker
-Once home we eat a quick dinner and then walk to Baskin Robbins for some much deserved ice cream
Pluses to our day-
-Traffic was not bad (a rare occurance for Korean roads)
-The kids did fabulous in the car and being dragged all over the west side of Korea
-The zoo was really beautiful and fun
-Jane chose to wait until we got home and inside to explode out of her diaper and clothes, requiring an immediate bath and half a bottle of Shout
So...when faced with the situation we were given this morning, we should have just slept in late and watched Wall-E for the 1,000,000,000,000th time. Here are some pics of us at the Zoo.
Charlie admires the giraffes

Korean girls admire Charlie


Charlie loved this slide and the alligator slide (although he had to enter through the alligators backside to come out his mouth)


Charlie and Dan fight over the delicious Korean slushie...it's no 7-Eleven, though


Charlie and his friend stuff these birds full of bread




Charlie on the Alligator Slide

Sorry, Anna can't seem to remember that the camera's video can't go sideways. So turn your head at a right angle and enjoy the clip!

1 comment:

The Martin Family said...

Um, yeah, you guys sure did have an interesting morning. I'm glad you finally got to the zoo though! I've never seen that slide that Charlie was on. And we must not have been too far apart because I swear those were some of the same girls that were following Lucas. We were there mostly in the morning though so it was pretty empty.