Wednesday, March 20, 2013

South Korea Day 2: Teddy Bear Museum & Dinner @ Il Vino Rosso

Mommy had visited this place on one of her previous trips here and thought that the exhibits here might be of interest to the kids. We found out later that they could be very educational too.
Welcome to the Teddy Bear Museum!

We caught a taxi to drop our bags at the hotel we will be checking into when we return to Seoul on Wednesday from Busan before carrying on to Namsan Park. Instead of taking the bus, we decided to take the taxi which came up to be very cheap considering there are 4 of us.  Along the way, the girls succumbed to the day's fatigue (from waking up early to cheer daddy's race) fell asleep.

We gave instructions to the taxi-driver to bring us to the cable car tower where we can take the cable car up to the tower (another option is to take the public buses - Number 2, 3 and 5. These 3 buses focus on Namsan route and stop just at Namsan Bus Terminal. You just need to walk about 5-10 minutes up the steep slope.) but it seemed that the taxi-driver brought us all the way to Namsan Park instead. When we arrived at Namsan Park, we were told there was a ban on vehicles entering the park and we had to alight at the foot of the hill and catch one of the public buses up. It was cold so we were really thankful that the bus arrived at the bus stop shortly. It helped that the ride up the hill was picturesque as it overlooked Seoul's city centre.
Steep long walk up to Seoul Tower.
  
At the ticket counter, you have several ticket options. You can choose to buy a single ticket for a single attraction (Namsan Tower Observatory / Teddy Bear / Restaurant etc) or you can combine the attractions for a cheaper price. We bought tickets for only the Teddy Bear Museum. K fell within the age limit so we got to paid for only 2 adults and 1 child. Ahh, the advantages of travelling with children. We did not have to pay for the kids' transportation fees around Korea as well. :)




After getting tickets, we took the stairs down to first floor Gallery. If you are heading for the Observatory, you can take the lift from here. The Teddy Bear Museum is located on the very level so it was a breeze navigating. Mummy had been here before a few times so she knew the directions immediately. If it is your first time, just look out for the signs hanging from the ceiling and you would be just fine.

In the first gallery, the main theme seemed to centre around Korea's history, culture and traditions. The medium used was in the form of individual exhibits using mechanized teddy bears to depict a cultural scenario such as an event in history or tradition. There were occasional departures from the general theme that depicted recent events or current places of interest.
Construction of the palace.

Construction of the palace..

Paying respects to the Emperoro and royal ancestors.

Scholarly bears.

A royal wedding.

Life in the palace kitchen.

Traditional sports.

Walking through the gallery.

More historical scenes: life in the village.



There was a newer gallery opened recently that mommy had not been to before that focused mainly on current Korean lifestyle and popular places within Seoul such as Myeongdong, Insadong and Dongdaemum. The bears there depicted scenes typical of the K-pop era and contemporary modern life.
Gangnam Syle.

Traditional wedding bears... note how the ladies all take to the bride while neglecting the groom.


Prince and Princess from the famous K-Drama 'Goong'.

"Nanta"

Christmas scene.

At the end of the second gallery was a small section dedicated to vintage original bears from all over the world. I took a few of these photos for the record and joined the three ladies soon after.


Upon exiting the gallery, we did not spend much time soaking up the breath taking views of the observatory as our friends who were taking us out to dinner had arrived to pick us up. They had booked a lovely place near the museum. We took a more leisure walk down the steep slope to the bus terminal in the biting cold and met our friends one bus stop away from Namsan bus-stop. Nonetheless, if you have the time, you can visit the Namsan Observatory which is on the top floor. It gives you a 360 degrees roundabout view of Seoul City and is known for their beautiful night view. However, do be mindful that going at night also means having to squeeze with the tourist crowd. Everyone wants to catch a glimpse of the night view. If you prefer a thinner crowd, go in the morning of late afternoon. Outside Namsan Tower, you can also visit the love locks where lovers write their names on locks (you would need to buy it) and chain it to the metal rails. That is if you can find a space.
It was a foggy day, but the views were still breath taking.


View of Seoul


A cafe right outside the first gallery. 






   





The restaurant is a mere 5 minutes walk away from Namsan Library Bus Stop. A good distance considering it was turning dark and so was the temperature. After walking down a flight of red-carpeted stairs, we came to a small restaurant with a quiet and romantic setting. Once we entered the restaurant, we were in awe. It overlooked a small manicured garden, like the ones you would see in a romantic Korean drama, where the man proposed to the woman. Awww...moommy was totally swept off her feet.

There is a private room in the small restaurant and our friends were sweet enough to have booked it so we could have a good catching up session. Food was delicious and the staff was attentive and patient even though we had to change the menu to suit the children's dietary requirements. The superb view made the reunion even more enjoyable. Definitely a must go again.


4 comments:

  1. Hi! We just booked a trip to Seoul with a 2 year old and 7 year old, and wondering kind of food there is to feed them. Because everything seems spicy!!! Please share if you have any advice, thanks.

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    1. We usually order rice for them. You can request for non spicy side dishes. When our kids were younger, they will eat rice w seaweed, bean sprouts and toufu side dishes. For your older child, you can order dumpling and rice cake soup which is very common there. Our children love it and it's not spicy at all. At Korean BBQs, we simply cut the meat into very small pieces. Pack along a small food scissors as it will come in handy for the two year old. Some places sell bamboo rice and our kids love that too.

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  2. Thank you... And the dumpling soup is available in most restaurants? What's the name in Korean?

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    Replies
    1. Hi. I believe it is called 'Mandu Guk' in Korean. It is available in restaurants/cafes that sell Korean food.

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