Day 4 started with gimbap for breakfast in a car to Gapyeong County. I was with a friend and two people I just met. The friend and I had decided to meet, and she brought her boyfriend (who brought his car) and a friend (who brought her humor) along. Since they could all speak English, the hour-long drive was filled with fun and interesting conversations.
Before I continue, an admission: I may not be one of the fans of K-Pop and Drama in the Philippines, but I love Running Man and ever since I saw a theme park based on The Little Prince on the show, the bookworm and child in me had been wanting to visit. Luckily, everyone wanted to just go along with my plan so the first destination for the day was Petite France.
The park was as adorable as I thought it would be, but most of the buildings and activities weren’t really related to The Little Prince. There is a building filled with old European Dolls in glass cases. Some of the dolls had creepy expressions but there were pretty ones too. There is also a building filled with antiques and a French traditional house gallery, which I really liked.
The park also has a French traditional play room, a cafe, a bistro, and a theater. There is also an outdoor theater where marionette performances are held. We were just in time for a dance of marionettes, which I did not really enjoy. I can’t stand moving dolls. 😨
We didn’t try any food in the park because my companions already had something planned for lunch. We went back to Seoul then went to an old-looking, empty place that looked more like someone’s kitchen than a place to order food. The old couple running the place were still preparing the ingredients for the day, but they gave us a table.
In the middle of our table was a big grill and the old woman brought out a big bowl of cabbage and marinated chicken, which everyone immediately started cooking. The dish is called dakgabli, a spicy grilled chicken dish, and I would totally go back to Korea for it. I especially loved the end when there was very little left left, and they mixed it with rice. Best Korean food ever.
After lunch they took me to Jongmyo Shrine for an annual memorial rite that I wanted to witness. I was very excited for it because it’s an ancestral ritual performed in the past to honor dead kings and queens. I also felt lucky because through Koren Tourism Organization I scored a seat where I can view the ritual at a closer distance.
Sadly, the experience turned out to be a bad one. At the beginning of the ritual, a light rain began and for the rest of the event everyone on the seats was cold, uncomfortable, and, I don’t think I was the only one, miserable. We only had flimsy, plastic rain coats to protect us from the rain and we couldn’t use umbrellas because that would block the view of the people at the back rows.
When the rain finally let up two hour later the ritual was over, and the only thing I remember was dozens of men standing, sitting, and playing instruments. Do I regret going there? No, because I think it gave me a glimpse of how the rulers were treated like gods a long time ago, but I will definitely not join any more memorial rites in the future, fine weather notwithstanding.
The day ended with dinner with my friend and her boyfriend. They took me to a restaurant with grimy walls and plastic stools and, of course, a huge grill at the middle of the tables. It looked and sounded like a place for drinking and when our order came I found out I wasn’t wrong.
I don’t drink beer but I didn’t have the heart to tell my friend because she already poured me soju. The food was also something I don’t usually eat, but liked much better than the liquor: gopchang or grilled small intestines of cattle.
I nursed the small glass of soju the entire night but had my fill of gopchang. I wasn’t the only one; we ordered a second serving and then a third and we would have ordered a fourth if we had space for it. It might have been the drink, but I liked it. It’s not something I would go back to Korea for, but I would if I could have it with the same hospitable and fun people I spent this day with.