I awoke feeling like I hadn’t slept. Four hours had passed in the time it takes to close my eyes and now I was being told that I need to get ready to go. I managed to get up, get showered, get dressed and walk into the next room. When I got there I dropped to the floor and had an extra five minutes.
Eventually we were all up and out of the house, taking the subway to where we would take the bus to the biggest, and possibly best, theme park in Korea.
After some trouble finding the bus stop we eventually found the right place. The bus was packed and there was no way we were getting seats. We looked at each other, Josh and I sharing a look at clearly said ‘We are on this bus for the next two hours, kill me now’. The groups around us chatted and laughed, they had clearly gotten some sleep over the past four days.
Just forty minutes later we pulled into the car park and got off the bus. We looked at Susie, confused. ‘Why did a two hour journey just take forty minutes?’. She looked at us, ‘It’s two hours from the house’, she said casually, ‘not two hours on the bus’. We shook our heads and headed to the shuttle bus that would take us to the entrance gate.
We arrived at the gates around 9.40 and bought our tickets, happy with the 25% discount we got for being foreign, even if I though it was a little weird. Susie wasn’t worried, she got double the amount of discount for having the right credit card. We had a twenty minute wait until the park opened and by this point our tiredness was turning to excitement, we grabbed a cold drink and a map each and worked out our plan of attack. We decided to start by getting to the biggest ride, the T-Express (a huge, all wood roller coaster), before the line got too big and then work a zig-zag pattern to cover the park. The gates opened and we moved in.
I started a quick march through the park. Josh and Susie lagged a little behind, probably laughing at my hop, skip and jump style of power walking. After a few minutes we entered a zone which was completely deserted. On our right was a medium sized roller coaster and in front and to the left were two other rides, a spinning arm that throws you about while twirling three different ways, and a swing ride that holds you face to the floor for a few seconds before flipping you over repeatedly (this one almost had Josh throw up his breakfast fifty feet in the air). Faced by deserted lines for fun looking rides, we changed our attack strategy, opting to ride the smaller rides while those fools who just run for the big rides spend their time in queues.
Turns out we needn’t have worried. Although we didn’t realise it for a few hours, by theme park standards Everland was deserted. We rarely waited for more than ten minutes for most rides. The two longest waits were twenty minutes for the bumper cars and forty for a safari ride. Notice than neither of those were for the T-Express.
Ahh, the T-Express. An awesome ride made all the more awesome by the fact that we didn’t have to wait to ride it. Whilst wandering around an area on the opposite side of the huge park (which seems to have been built on the side of a mountain) we came across a stand giving out tickets for Madagascar Live, which we didnt fancy, and also ‘Q-Pass’ tickets. In the UK these cost money and don’t really save you any time at all, merely allowing you to join a queue marginally shorter than the normal one. We got our tickets for the T-Express and walked away feeling like we had just tricked Everland, beaten it somehow and come out on top. It seemed to good to be true.
We had half an hour to wait and so we decided to be bold and attempt a small can of beer from a food stall. We were all pretty knackered again, the adrenaline from the first few rides had worn off, Josh even fell asleep in the queue for the flume ride. We found some benches, cracked open our cans and took a sip, carefully, in case our brains decided it was a bad idea and made our bodies refuse to accept it. Our bodies clearly didn’t think it was a bad idea and half an hour later, a magical transformation had taken place. Josh was wide awake and ready to go, all signs of tiredness gone. Our lack of energy replaced with buzzing excitement. And that was from just one can! Imagine what six or seven of them could do!
We grabbed one more for the walk to the T-Express. When we got there we thought it might be closed. There was no one there except a woman who looked at our tickets as we passed through a large room with barriers, clearly built to hold about two hundred excited people, but now empty. After the room we walked along a path that moved through the lattice-work of dark wooden beams that make up the huge, all wooden roller coaster. The paths were all deserted. Finally we went up some steps and into a final room containing about ten people and a train car. We showed our tickets to a man and walked onto the platform, as easy as that. Two minutes later we were sittings on the first train of the ride, beginning the long journey to the top, clunk, clunk, clunking slowly skyward.
The ride was great. Once we reached the top we came around and approached the big drop, a near vertical fall from the top of the ride to the bottom which would propel us around a roller coaster that is famed for its accelerated ascents. Every time you go up you get an incredibly powerful boost, so the up’s are more exciting than the downs, the force trying to pull you out of you seat and throw you up and out every time. A warning asked that you keep your hands down and on the handrail, sorry Everland, not possible, though I bent them at the elbows every now and then when the wooden beams looked a little too close. I’m taller than your average Korean, and I was worried for my fingertips.
Though it wasn’t a short ride, it was over too soon. We were told we couldn’t be cheeky and just jump on again, we had to ‘queue’ again. We got to the exit, grabbed a Q-pass ticket from the booth by the ride entrance and did it all over again.
Next we walked around the very large zoo area that takes up about a quarter of the park. Mainly owing to the fact that most of the animals were awake, but also because the layout and enclosure design was much better thought out, I enjoyed Everland’s zoo more than the one in Seoul Park. One of the only two things that I didn’t really like about the zoo was that the lone orang-utan looked very lonely.
At Everland there is also a safari ride, Lost Valley, where you ride an amphibious safari bus around a route with elephants (the other thing I didn’t really like about the zoo, both elephants were swinging their heads around whilst standing the spot, looking like they were a little crazy) , lions, giraffes and other wild animals.
After this we were again very, very tired. Walking was a struggle and we decided to find some benches and have a sit down. Beer wouldn’t help anymore, that was for sure. We sat in a shady spot. Ten minutes later we were all asleep. We came round long enough to decide to accept it for the next twenty minutes, after which we’d move on. Susie woke us what felt like two minutes later. My body felt like lead, my legs were cramped and I couldn’t do any thinking beyond the basics. We decided to have a last go on the T-Express, then head out. By the time we got to the ride it was beginning to get dark. There was a little queue for the ride, the Q-Passes were finished, and we held ourselves up against the railing as we walked. The ride was fun but the adrenaline comedown took us even lower. It was time to go.
We had work the next day so we split up, Susie getting a bus back to Seoul and Josh and I taking a coach to Incheon. We said goodbye, found some seats, and passed out. After an hour we woke up and wondered why we weren’t home yet. Worrying was too exhausting and we both fell asleep again, waking every 20 minutes to check that we were on the right bus and not heading to Busan or North Korea by accident.
Eventually we got to Incheon. Thankfully the subway was running because neither of us had any money. We had a half an hour journey to our station, then a 10 minute walk to the door. It was depressing information. Eventually we got back to Dongam. It was almost midnight and we decided to stop in Lotteria, a Korean burger chain as popular as McDonald’s. I used my UK card to pay, money and charges didn’t matter anymore.
The past four days had been fantastic. A beautiful hike up a mountain that has sparked the desire to climb more. A single day at work followed by a great night out that didn’t go nearly as we expected. A day with good news about my eyes and a zoo full of animals and the grand finale, a day spent in the sun, without queues, at the best theme park I’ve been to. All this done with my two of my three favourite people in Korea. It’s been great, but it’s taken it’s toll.
We sat down in the restaurant. Broken. Something funny was said and we laughed, then we almost cried, then we laughed again. Never before had I felt like this. I needed to food. I needed water. I needed sleep.
I had destroyed myself in for days, more or less.
James vs world