Two months ago during New Years Eve weekend I spent the first few days of my vacation in my boyfriends residential city: Bucheon. Bucheon is a small satellite city located southwest of Seoul and directly eastward of Incheon, or as some would say directly in-between the two. Having once lived very close to Bucheon during my last few months abroad as a resident in Korea I only visited Bucheon a few times with my boyfriend as we spent most of our time together in Seoul. Being almost 2 years since our last time being in Bucheon together we decided to spend sometime there during the start of my stay.
On our first day in the Bucheon area we mostly walked around before having Gamjatang(감자탕), a spicy Korean soup made from the spine & neck bones of a pig. After lunch we went to see the academy-acclaimed film LaLaLand. For those who haven’t seen the film we highly recommend it, especially for any musical lovers. After watching the film we decided to spend the rest of the day resting. The next day I spent the afternoon having lunch & meeting up with some close Korea University friends from the Suwon and Seongnam area and getting to meet one of my friend’s 8 month old daughter for the first time. After my reunion with my Korean friends I met up with my boyfriend in the evening nearby Bucheon’s Korea Manhwa Museum (한국만화박물관) located next to the Samsan Gymnasium Station(삼산체육관역) off of subway Line 7. Our evening plans for day two entailed visiting a popular sushi restaurant called Sushi Koi(스시코이), and then a heading to Bucheon Aiins World’s(아인스월드) evening World Nightview Fantasy Lighting Festival (부천 아인스월드 빛축제 – 세계야경 판타지 빛축제). Unfortunately, due to the 30-45 min waiting que time we decided to try another sushi restaurant, Sushi Story(스시스토리), but failed to beat the rush there too. Since it was the night before New Years Eve there were plenty of company sponsored dinners also known as hweshiks taking place throughout the city. Wanting to avoid the noise we settled on having Budae jjigae(부대찌개), a simple thick Korean based stew, to warm up our bodies before our evening theme park stroll.
After dinner we made our way to Bucheon’s Aiins World(부천 아인스월드). The the park recently opened just a few years ago, however, its appeal had never caught either of our attentions until recently when we learned about the park’s late-night ‘World Nightview Fantasy Lighting Festival.’ Having never visited an evening lighting event before we thought it would romantic to visit Aiins World. Arriving around 9:00ish we noticed that the parking lot was entirely empty, however, there were a few other couples like us entering the park. After purchasing our tickets, and viewing the guide map, we strolled into the world theme section entering the European section first.
What struck us as we entered were not so much the beautifully orchestrated rainbow lightning, but the realistic miniaturized world monuments that stood before us. Having never been to Europe we were awestruck by seeing iconic structures such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace,St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Tower Bridge. Behind England’s corner in the distance we could see Australia’s renowned Opera House, New York City’s historic iconic Twin Towers, and the Pretronas Twin Towers from Malaysia. We must have spent 1 hour just touring the Europe section, starting as mentioned from England to France, Rome, Italy, Spain, Germany, Greece, etc.
Some structures were look-only monuments while others (i.e. the Roman Colosseum and Moscow’s Red Square) were open for guests to dive into and see it in more visual detail. Along the way we ran into other couples and one family also touring our section. If able, we would ask for someone to take a photo for us if able and return the favor if asked. Thankfully, we were able to meet some people willing to assist.
Around 10pm we entered the Africa/Middle East section touring Eygpt’s Giza pyramids, Turkey’s mosques, Jordan’s Petra, and Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro before reaching Central/South America where we spotted Machu Picchu and Tenochtitlan. Upon reaching the central lake that lies at the center of the world theme section we got to see Australia’s Opera House up close and even spotted a water section dedicated to the lost kingdom of Atlantis, which still remains a legend.
Taking some pictures of the world zone and faraway monuments we soon entered North America. Surprisingly, the North American monuments were the largest, but this maybe because skyscrapers were first constructed there. Feeling like we time-wrapped into a 1990s NYC we were struck by the building lights, billboard ads, and line up of the Twin Towers, Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Times Square, and even Brooklyn Bridge. While none of these landmarks quite surprised me they certainly surprised my boyfriend. Having been unable to visit New York last year due to work he had still never seen these landmarks in person. It was nice to give tidbits of history about them to him here. Taking some pictures with NYC as our backdrop we moved on to Washington,DC and the National Mall.
After North America came Asia, the final world theme section before returning back to the beginning where Europe was located. We once again said the Petronas Towers then saw one of Japan’s many castles. Not too long after we were in mainland China. Afterwards, we finally reached Korea, which I had actually questioned at first if Korea would be included, but I imagine they saved the best for last. For the Korea section Korea’s monuments were some destroyed decades ago and those that still remain today. For the one’s that still remain and were included were Korea’s palaces that are still present today in Seoul. Speaking with my boyfriend in regards to the ones destroyed he could only tell me that he had read about them in school.
Finishing the world zones we made our way to the exits and discovered it was already close to midnight. With the lighting event ending and park closing we quickly made our way out and headed to Samsan Gymnasium Station to catch a subway back home. Along the way back we talked about how Aiins World was more than we expected. Compared to other evening lighting events such as the one at Lotte World or The Garden of Morning Calm the one at Aiins World certainly had more concept appeal. For one thing the lighting event was not only catering to provide a romantic evening but also providing guests an opportunity to step away from the ordinary life in Bucheon or Seoul and feel like a tourist walking through 20+ countries. As a wander-luster I can only hope that one day I can see as many countries as I had that evening we visited Aiins World. However, having been able to tour so many notable landmarks together with my boyfriend was a special experience that I wouldn’t want to change.
When we visited Aiins World the World Nightview Fantasy Lighting Festival was originally set until the 2016.12.31. But, it would seem that the evening lighting event is held 365 days/year with the exception of national holidays and possible rain days. If you ever happen to visit Bucheon or be in Seoul for a while make sure to include Bucheon’s Aiins World on your list of places to visit, especially for evening outings. You won’t be disappointed and might even be inspired to visit one of the many world zone landmarks on display there in real life one day. As for us, we already have a few destinations in mind that we plan to visit when able in future.
Among the countries and/or landmarks mentioned how many have you’ve seen? Which ones do you like?