CONTRIBUTED BY SIBO LUNGU
A few weeks ago, while I was at the Yeouido Cherry Blossom festival, I saw boats on the Han River and remembered that there is a boat that you can ride up and down the river. The next Saturday was a partly cloudy day, but still good enough for a day out and about, so hubby and I headed out to Jamsil/Olympic Park area of Seoul to catch a boat from there. Like most of our day trips, this one also took a turn midway and we decided to go to a place called Ttukseom Hangang Park instead. I had read about it having a sledding hill during the wintertime, but I wasn’t sure what to find in springtime except a park and hopefully a boat.
Taking subway line 7, we got off at Ttukseom Resort Station which is connected to the park, exited the spaceship –like building, and found ourselves in the middle of a large plaza right next to the river.
Apparently we weren’t the only ones who thought that an overcast but slightly warm day was a good enough day to spend outside, because half of Seoul was there too. Families, couples, dogs, old, young, walkers, bikers, crawlers, boaters, you name it. And not only were they there, but they came prepared. Everyone had blankets, snacks and drinks. I couldn’t help but wish we had prepared a bit more. There was even concert equipment being set up for an event later that evening.
Since we didn’t really have a plan, we just meandered through the picnicking crowds. And I do mean meandered because people had laid blankets anywhere they could find a spot (on the barely alive post-winter grass and concrete) and began their picnicking.
You can’t go wrong with being near water, so even though it was crowded, it was very relaxing to walk along the trail and enjoy the breeze and the view of Seoul from east to west. We could see all the way from the Olympic stadium to Seoul tower. We even spotted Jamsil/Olympic park- our original destination.
Since the whole point of us coming here was to ride a boat, after our stroll, we started to search for the boats. The one visibly obvious boat place was unfortunately a water skiing business. Not quite the adventure we were out for that day. We walked a little further and saw some duck paddle boats. It wasn’t exactly what we had in mind either, but what the hell. Having a boat to ourselves, and floating quietly while enjoying the views sounded better the closer we got to the immobile ship/restaurant that also serves as the dock.
We struggled through the Hangul and successfully figured out the boating options. Even though the staff didn’t speak English, as usual, they were gracious to us foreigners. We paid our $15 for 40 minutes and chose a paddle boat. They had an automatic boat option too for a bit more, but at our age, that just seemed embarrassing. Paddling was actually more fun than I had thought. Locals waved, smiled and happily shouted,” Hello” to us, and we smiled and waved back. The Selfie Stick made its appearance on just about every boat. We were all in separate boats but in the roped off area, we were still all “in it together” as we all struggled to maneuver the clumsy vessels.
The rental time was about 40 minutes which was perfect. Back at the dock, we grabbed some snacks and drinks, sat a table, and enjoyed the view just before the sun came down. We weren’t very hungry so we didn’t try the indoor boat restaurant, but it looked like it had some decent selections of Korean food. There is a snack shop on the main deck that sells snacks and drinks (beers too). There are tables to sit down at as well.
I have to say, the park generally looked a bit rundown, but it was still very pleasant. The restrooms and snack shops could be improved by adding more of both. Most picnickers brought their own food. I suspect we were a bit over eager and the city hadn’t cleaned it up yet for true start of the season. The grass probably needs a few more weeks of warm weather, and the swimming pool hadn’t even been filled yet. So, we were really early. However, between the pool, water skis, duck boats, skating park, biking and walking trails, and fishing, Ttukseom Park offers a decent amount to do on a lazy warm day. And for the artsy folks, it turns out that the spaceship-like station is also an art gallery. We walked through it to look at some of the local art that was displayed.
Sunset came too quickly (that tends to happen when you wake up at noon), so we jumped back on the train and headed one stop down to Cheongdamto finish the night off with a movie at the CGV theatre.
Cost of duck boat per group: $15 paddle; $23 automatic motor (40 minutes)
Address: 112 Jayang 3(sam)-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul
GPS Coordinates: 37.529844, 127.067702
How to get there: Ttukseom Resort Station (Seoul Subway Line 7), Exit 2 or 3