Sunday, March 05, 2006

Korea: Lotte World Adventures

Had a leisurely Saturday morning – work up late in the afternoon and had lunch with Sutharsan at 2 PM. Usually when I travel, I do not have any company – but this time it was different since Sutharsan was also there. Sudhir had mentioned an amusement park close to the office and a quick enquiry at the hotel lobby revealed it to be “Lotte World” and easily accessible by metro, being just a couple of stations away from office/COEX. So having finished lunch, we proceed to Lotte World.

Bought a couple of DVDs outside Lotte World – “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “From Here To Eternity”. Picked up “A Streetcar Named Desire” because it was recommended by a friend, picked up “From Here To Eternity” because the cover said it had won eight Academy Awards and the DVDs were selling for ten thousand won for two – so I had to pick up two anyway. The back cover said they are in English, keeping my fingers crossed on that part.

After acquiring two “unlimited” passes at the ticket counter, we proceeded inside. The main center is housed in a mammoth building, with a separate “Magic Island” section housed outside next to a lake. The main center had attractions like a huge ice skating rink, bowling alley, rides, shows etc and the “Magic Island” had even more of amusement rides and theme galleries.

Skating Rink

We decided to proceed to “Magic Island” first and come back later to catch all the shows in “Amusement Center” which was in the main building. Went on two heart stopping rides at “Magic Island” – the “Gyro Drop” and the “Gyro Swing”. “Gyro Drop” takes you to a height of 70m and the just lets you go for a free fall experience at speed of 100 kilometers an hour.

Gyro Drop

“Gyro Swing” pretty much rotates you horizontally and vertically and is quite thrilling. At the peak of the swing, you are poised high above the ground (or water on the other side of the swing) and on coming back down you can see the ground rushing up at you at an incredible speed.

Gyro Swing

Could not take the “Atlantis Ride” because the queue for that one was a mile long and it would have taken us at least a couple of hours waiting to get on the ride. After having experienced our fill of the high intensity rides, and giving due consideration to the fact that it was getting quite cold and we were getting frozen, we decided to beat a retreat from “Magic Island” and entered the main hall again.

In due time, we managed to cover most of the attractions including “Adventure of Sinbad” and “Jungle Adventure”, after which it was time for the Lotte World “World Carnival Parade”. Quite over the top and extremely nice to watch.

Advance guard for the parade

Any parade that has beautiful dancing Egyptian girls is a fun parade in my definition. And this one not only had Egyptian girls, but also “simulated” Samba dancers, Spanish Flamenco dancers, Chinese and Japanese dancers and the like. After the parade, it was time for the “Laser Show”, but that was not very impressive with only crude line drawings of cartoons projected on big screens. More interesting to watch was the various stage shows, like Broadway shows, at the main stage. Lots of music and dancing – including Can Can dancers. Reminds me that I missed the “Moulin Rouge” last time I was in Paris. Something on my wish list for my next trip there. Similarly I have to catch a Broadway show at either London or New York.

Can Can dancers

The evening finished off with a “rock” performance by a band from Manila, Philippines. They started with “Dancing Queen” by Abba and “Hey Jude” by Beatles and went on to sing a Spanish song and lots of Korean numbers. Quite versatile. The lead singer was hyperactive and he was backed by two girls. There was this drummer also who was an incredible singer with a powerful voice. In the middle of the performance, while singing a Korean song, the lead singer invited one of the people from the crowd and that guy also turned out to be pretty good singer. Towards the end of the performance, the singer just walked down to where Sutharsan and I were sitting and after sticking the mic at Sutharsan’s face, asked him where he was from. Sutharsan barely managed a shocked reply, “India”, and I too was asked if I was from the same place. After I replied in the affirmative, we were named “Guests of the evening – from India” and got to bask under the spotlight and received a round of applause! I was just thankful that I was not asked to sing and Sutharsan also says that was one thing top most on his mind at that time!

One big party

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