I first met Naia when she was a babe in a stroller. I had read about her birth on her mum’s blog: travel-stained. Shelley had convinced me to meet her when we moved to Seoul in 2016. I was very anxious and it took a lot to get me to accept the idea of meeting a person I knew online. I had never met a blogger before and Shells is a celebrity blogger in Seoul. My sister-in-law questioned if it was wise to meet a person who I barely knew. Honestly, as Shelley pointed out, she was the one with the baby meeting a faceless (that’s me) name on the internet. Shells, Bora (Agri’s sister), and I clicked almost instantly. And when I looked at baby Naia, all my fears melted away; I could only see a curious stare, and loads of love. I know how much I needed it back then. I can’t believe she turned three last October and while we couldn’t make it for her birthday party, we managed to spend a fun weekend together.
Shells has mastered the art of persuasion. When she invited us to spend a weekend at Yong Pyeong Resort, I wasn’t sure if I could get bus tickets, or if Basil would be open to the idea of waking up at 4:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. She reminds me of my sister who knows when I’m trying to stall. So, she even booked our tickets from Dong Seoul Terminal to Hoenggye Bus Terminal. It was a wet Saturday morning and it was pouring outside. We reached within 2 hours to Hoenggye Terminal. Shuttle buses (reservation link) leave at regular intervals to Yong Pyeong Resort & Daegwallyeong Baby Animal Farm. Thanks to the Pyeongchang Olympics, there’s even a tourism guide who will help you with your travel queries. Alternatively, you can take a cab to get around. We waited for Agri (Shelley’s hubby) to take us to the condo. The convenience store is a life-saver and Basil picked up a coffee to beat the cold.
Shelley’s friend, Judy, and her kids had joined the celebration on the previous night. Shells had also invited Judy’s talented photographer friend: Taehyun. When we arrived, the kids were playing with their toys and the adults looked very sleepy. Basil instantly bonded with Taehyun on photography and cameras. The toddlers were getting restless and Shells suggested a visit to Daegwallyeong Baby Animal Farm.
The weather has been rather unpredictable last year (2018). Winter was brutal, summer was scorching hot, and we even had a taste of a tropical monsoon. We were fortunate to miss the other typhoons that hit Japan and the Philippines. In October, typhoon Kong-rey hit the Korean peninsula. Our phones buzzed with alerts from the local government agency as we zipped along the winding turns of the mountains. Agri did a fantastic job of driving in the pouring rain and following Taehyun’s car. Visibility was poor and it was scary to be outside.
TIP: As you go away from the city and deeper into the Korean countryside, transport can be quite a problem — if you don’t have your own car. Local buses aren’t easy to find if you’re not familiar with Naver Maps. It may also be hard to get a cab after dark or if the weather is bad. Locals don’t speak English and most country roads are deserted. Always plan your trip keeping the transport options in mind before you plan your travel itinerary.
Baby Animal Farm
Surprisingly, the Baby Animal Farm was open and had a few visitors. Tickets cost around 10,000 Won per person and you also get an animal feeding box. Food grains are named for each animal in the farm.
Baby Bunny Boom
The first enclosure is a giant hall with squeaking chicks and oinking piglets. Each animal has its own pen for privacy and babies can be viewed from the top. It’s like a giant nursery filled with everything cute. The rabbits were the cutest of the lot. Some kits (baby rabbits) were probably a couple of days old. It must have been cold for them and they snuggled with their siblings. Mamma rabbit watched carefully as we humans peered over the fence.
Hedgehogs & Family
The hedgehogs were curled into cute balls of quills. It was hard to distinguish head from toe. You can wear a glove and pet them whilst they pretend to ignore you.
Mice & Pigs
There were different kinds of mice and since I’m not very good with animal names, I couldn’t distinguish one kind from another. Piglets and chicks seemed to be good friends and it was hard to get pictures without motion.
Learning to Feed & Love
The Baby Animal Farm is an excellent place for kids to learn how to treat animals with kindness and love. And it starts with parents teaching their kids to overcome the fear of their first animal interaction. It was sweet to watch Agri (above) teach a hesitant Naia how to hold a chick and feed the others in the pen.
Judy’s son taught his little sister, Jihyul (Naia’s bestie), how to pet a chick and feed the other babies. She was happy running around the farm and feeding rabbits.
Birds & Squirrels
I think, the adults were having a great time too. Basil was having a blast feeding exotic birds (I wish they hadn’t kept birds in cages though) and squirrels or squirrel-like animals. I tried feeding some of them and it was fun to have them peck at the spoon.
Taehyun was bored without his camera and wandered around aimlessly. Finally, he took the chance of getting his camera wet in the rain (from the car to the farm) and he seemed happier behind the lens. He did an excellent job of capturing almost every human-animal interaction.
Goats, Sheep, & Deer
The deer and goats would have preferred to graze outside and looked dreamily in the distance. But the rain showed no sign of stopping.
Many Faces of Curiosity
Basil was disappointed that he didn’t get his camera. But he had fun clicking these close-ups of curious goats and sheep. I feel sorry for them, I know how it feels to have a lens so close to your face. I don’t think they were too happy.
The goats and sheep were quite hungry and fought to be fed. It’s strange because there was a lot of fodder on the floor of each pen.
Birds of a Feather Flock Together
We may have got some grains mixed in our feeding frenzy. My box was practically full and I handed it to one of the kids.
Horses, Ostrich (my guess), & Dog
The last enclosure had ponies, an ostrich, a stallion, and even dogs. It was weird seeing barking dogs in a pen.
The Happy Bunch
We managed to regroup at the entrance of the farm and Taehyun clicked a picture for us.
Lunch @ Ajumma’s Hangout
The neighbourhood is famous for seafood. I’m very picky with seafood and Judy had a hard time finding a place to eat. Fortunately, we found a homely local restaurant. I ordered bibimbap (rice and veggies) and the others were more open to trying different items on the menu. Judy pointed how the men and women were separated by 2 different tables. On the other side, sport and food seemed to dominate the conversation. On this side, we spoke about being different and finding our voice as women. Judy had to leave after lunch and the rest of us went back to the condo.
Night Views at Yongpyeong Resort
Naesul, Shelley’s niece, had missed the early morning bus and was now waiting for us at the condo. The rain had finally stopped and after spending few lazy hours, we went out for dinner at the main dining area. Although the lights were up, most eateries were shut, and we were lucky to find a small place that had traditional Korean meals. We explored for a bit and went back to the condo to catch some sleep.