Q&A: The Golfer Lydia Ko Loves Beaches (and Legos)

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Besides Auckland, what do you think makes New Zealand so special?

I really appreciate the laid-back culture. It’s very casual there, and the people are nice in an old-fashioned sort of way, which is not easy to find today. And the setting, with the water, the mountains and the landscape, can’t be beat. I think that Queenstown, on the South Island, is the most beautiful place I have ever seen because you have both the mountains and the ocean. Also on the South Island, the hiking on the Milford Track is spectacular.

And on the North Shore, where I grew up, the beaches are fantastic for surfing and swimming. I lived 10 minutes away from four different beaches and was truly spoiled.

Are your trips to South Korea also to play in tournaments?

I do go there for tournaments, but every December, I’m there on vacation.

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I spend a few days in Seoul getting my fix of Korean food. One of my favorite restaurants, Mokran, is there. It’s Korean Chinese food, and the dish I get is black bean noodles with diced pork and vegetables.

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But for most of my time in South Korea, I’m on Jeju Island, where my grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins live. Like New Zealand, the beaches on the island are stunning. The water is this amazing turquoise color, and even though I can’t go swimming because I’m there in the winter, it’s relaxing just to look at the sea.

Do you recommend the island as a place for travelers to visit?

Absolutely. It’s somewhat unknown, but there are a lot of beachside resorts there for people to stay at and nice restaurants. And it’s known for its volcano called Hallasan, which is surrounded by a beautiful national park. Any place that I love has to have both a fantastic setting and food, and Jeju Island has both.

What do you enjoy doing in Orlando, where you live?

My friends and I love going to Universal. I’m not a fan of roller coasters, but I can’t get enough of the 4-D Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction. I also go to Disney Springs, a big complex with stores and restaurants. I have a hobby of doing Legos so I always head to the Lego Store there to buy a new toy, and I go to Sprinkles to get a carrot cupcake.

Is there a destination you’ve been to for golf, not including New Zealand and South Korea, that you especially love?

Probably Evian, in France, where the Evian Championship is, because it’s set on Lake Geneva, and you can see across the lake to Geneva. Honestly, though, when I’m traveling for work, I have little downtime to appreciate where I am. I usually stay in my hotel room, order steak or spaghetti Bolognese from room service and watch a movie.

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