Sly doesn’t care much for celebrating his birthday. “Just another day,” he always says. Which, to some degree, is true, especially the older we get. But that didn’t stop me from planning something.
Part 1: The Shooting Range
On the other side of town is “Asia’s largest shooting range.” Uh, who knew? Sly loves shooting stuff and since it was his birthday I figured I could try and shoot stuff too. We arrived exactly at noon and wandered around the seemingly deserted massive complex wondering where the hell everyone was hiding. Sly peered into the ticket office only to be told they were on lunch break. As in every single person in Asia’s largest shooting range took their lunch break at the same exact time: 12-1 and during this time, they were not to be bothered.
We took the not-so-subtle hint to get lost and made our way to the cafeteria. When I opened the door — and this is not an exaggeration — every single person at every single cafeteria table turned to stare at us. If there had been a record, that thing would have been scratched like crazy. We played it cool for a little while, pretended to look around, and then high-tailed it back to the car.
After a few feeble attempts at trying to google search a restaurant, Sly made the executive decision to start driving until we found something. Not too far from the shooting range Sly spotted a cluster of brand new apartment high-rises being built. We headed in that direction and stumbled upon a pop-up town — the type of place that literally looks as if it sprung up overnight. I saw a restaurant that had photos on the windows and figured if the place had pictures of the menu at least I could point and grunt. As it turned out we picked a “healthy food” restaurant and the owner? waiter? spoke some English. Whenever he asked me a question I just nodded. Despite not really having a clue what I ordered, everything that came out was delicious.
We returned to the shooting range after lunch and signed up for clay shooting. I read online that you had to sit through an orientation before shooting any of the guns, but I guess they don’t do that anymore because after we paid we were on our way. Add this to the fact that this was my first time shooting a rifle and the person giving me instructions only spoke Korean = recipe for disaster. I have the worst hand-eye coordination. I suck at video games. I suck at zombie shooting games or duck hunt style games. I’m decent when it comes to archery, but otherwise, I just suck. I was already embarrassed for myself thinking how I would miss every single clay pigeon.
As expected I missed the first bazillion shots — like not even in the same neighborhood. Midway through I had to stop and take a break because the gun was so freaking heavy and my puny arms were getting tired. And then out of nowhere, mind and body and gun became one — I started just popping them off, one after the other. Nobody (except maybe the instructor) was more surprised than me.. When I finished shooting Sly told me that he overhead a Korean couple talking about me. They had only caught the part of my session where I hit the targets and were exclaiming “whoooaaa,” “woooowww” the entire time. Then they said, “well she’s American. In the states they all know how to shoot guns.” If they only knew!
Part 2: Ice Cream on the Lake
With some time to spare after the shooting range we went home, changed into flip flops and drove to Suseong Lake. The weather was just gorgeous — sunny and warm — that we couldn’t not be outside. After strolling around the lake admiring the cherry blossoms that were just starting to bloom, we sat at an outside cafe and ate gelatos.
This ride kind of made me nauseous and gave Sly whiplash. We are getting old..
double photo bomb
get your fresh hot butter “cuttlfish”
Sly likes shooting stuff
one of the biggest and weirdest haunted houses I’ve ever been in. Just weird.
it’s an unwritten rule that all korean pizzas will come with corn on top
Part 3: The Amusement Park
For Sly’s bday extravaganza part 3 we went to Eworld/83Tower — an amusement park located not too far from the city center. We arrived just after dark and walked row after beautifully lit row of cherry blossoms. There were lighted decorations and lawn art and light arches in the shape of hearts, swans, birds and flowers — all of which were occupied by lines of people waiting to take photos of themselves with selfie sticks.
We pressed on, hitting up the roller coasters first, then the games (Sly won me a prize!), then the haunted house, then the weird coin-operated robotic animals, then the batting cages. The park itself was small by American standards and the rides were definitely not Six Flags level, but at night it felt like we were at an old-school carnival, the kind we remembered going to as kids.
Eworld is comprised of two parts: the amusement park with the rides and 83Tower. I had originally planned (and I use this term loosely) that we would eat a fancy dinner at the spinning restaurant at the top of the tower after we got bored of the park, except that we never really did. We kept telling ourselves “one more ride, one more ride.” By the time we made it up to the tower, and after a LOT of confusion about whether or not we needed tickets to eat at the restaurant (we didn’t) we found out the restaurant had just stopped serving 10 minutes earlier, even though the restaurant didn’t officially close until 30 minutes later.
Hungry and frustrated we went in search of some place open to eat. By the time we made it back down the tower everything was closed. Then we got lost twice on the drive back home. And then nothing was really open by the time we got home. So we decided to brave it and order pizza — a thin cheese pizza and a thin combo pizza — two safe sounding pizzas. Both came with corn as one of the surprise toppings, but otherwise it was good. Not quite what we expected but good. And in a way, kind of the perfect ending to Sly’s bday extravaganza.
I know everyone is just dying for this recipe
Part 4: The one time a year I cook for Sly
Not really. But sort of. I’m more of the everyday meals/sides maker/expert taste tester in our house. Sly is more of the elaborate chef. He enjoys cooking whereas I find it makes me even more OCD (if that’s even possible). Every birthday (or in this case, day after birthday) I cook Sly whatever he wants. And pretty much every year he requests the same thing: hot dog casserole. For him, it’s a childhood memory. For me…well let’s just say over time I had to modify the ultimate 1950s recipe to make it a bit more ‘gourmet” by using higher quality ingredients and adding a ton of veggies. This year, I think I finally perfected the HDC. For dessert, Sly requested, “something chocolate-y and coconut-y” so I made a decadent coconut-filled cake that I must say, despite appearances,tasted damn good. Sure I was in the kitchen literally the entire day, but hey, it’s only once a year, right?
Daegu Shooting Range // Kind of pricey but worth a visit whenever you feel the need to shoot some stuff. You can choose to shoot various handguns, air pistols or opt for clay shooting like we did. The complex itself is massive with an on site cafeteria that serves Korean food, lodging (???) and another building that looked kind of like an auditorium. There must be other stuff to do here because we saw a lot of kids running around — like tour buses full. There are English and Korean forms to fill out prior to shooting (choose one) and then you are more or less on your own. There are safety instructors at some of the shooting stations, but at least for us, their English was limited. TIP: Koreans take their lunch breaks very seriously, so plan on arriving before or after lunch. Or just waiting.
Eworld /83Tower // Amusement Park and Tower // On-site parking approx $3 // The website is entirely in Korean so have fun with Google Translate. Basically there are several types of passes — an all day pass that gets you admission to the park AND tower, a park pass only, and a tower pass only (takes you to observation tower). After 5pm tickets to the amusement park are about $16 as opposed to $23. These discounted night tickets, however, do not include the observation tower. On the other hand, if you eat at the restaurant at the top of the tower, or have drinks there, you don’t need tickets. Just tell the elevator operator that you want to go to the restaurant. There are a bunch of other restaurants and activities (additional fee) on the terrace level as well. While the amusement park itself is small, we really had a lot of fun. It felt more like a carnival than a Six Flags with more carnival type rides (bumper cars, avalanche, carousel) and maybe about 5 roller coasters. Unlike American style theme parks, the concessions are rather cheap here — like $5 or less. I read that the roller coasters will close if the weather is bad, so if that is a concern, call ahead — or try to call ahead — before going. TIP: when it comes to closing times, when a restaurant says it closes at, say, 10pm, that means they are out the door by 10. Don’t be dumb like us and dilly dally on the rides until 9:30 thinking you will be seated.