March 22, 2011

Korean Ski Getaway

A couple of weeks ago a group of friends and I set out to hit the slopes of Korea. After some research and recommendations we decided to go to spend the weekend at Yong Pyong Ski Resort.
We took a 3 hour bus from the Eastern Seoul Bus Terminal at Gangbyeon Station to Gangneung (Hwenggye). We were then picked up by a Ski rental shop that helped us with our ski and snowboard rentals and then brought us to our hostel.

We stayed at the Yong Pyong Youth Hostel which was only a 5 minute walk to the bunny hill lift. We rented a large room with heated floors and 15 mats for a little over a 140,000 won a night. It was the cheapest skiing accommodations I have ever seen! It worked out perfectly and ended up feeling like a huge sleep over.

Here are some pictures of Yong Pyong I got off their website.
I was very impressed with the facilities and the ski resort. It was beautiful and very well kept. It reminded me of some mountains I have skied in Vermont. However, I was surprised to hear that Yong Pyong Ski Resort is bidding for the 2018 Winter Olympics. We were lucky to be visiting at the same time as the Winter Olympic Committee, so everything on the mountain was in tip top shape. I do not think Korea will be seeing the Winter Olympics in 2018 because the mountain was fairly small and did not have the expert terrain that is needed to host the Olympic games in my opinion.

Most of the group spent both Saturday and Sunday on the slopes. We got really lucky with the weather: the perfect sunny winter weekend. We were a group a of 15 skiers and snowboards that were at all different levels. A few people had never been on skis/snowboards before and some people were on the Wisconsin Ski Team. It was a fun mix of people and levels and we had a great time together.
Check out this strange ski lift they had. A magic carpet to take you to were the lift picks you up!

The Yong Pyong International Ski Festival was also being held the weekend we were at Yong Pyong. There were tons of international families skiing there and partaking in multiple events. There were free alpine races on Saturday for foreigners participating in the festival. As I mentioned before, two of our friends were on the UW Ski Team back home and wanted to test their racing abilities in Asia. They both raced, Brian in skiing and Quinn in snowboarding. The group watched and cheered them on from the bottom of the course. Brian ended up winning first place in Skiing and Quinn won third place for snowboarding!
We were told the award ceremony was being held around 8 pm along with a party for the International Ski Festival. Brian ended up winning a new pair of skis and Quinn won a free teeth cleaning (very exciting!) The party ended up being a huge blast. There were people and families from all over the world there having a good time together. There was a DJ and a dance floor that we took over. The scene reminded me of a bar mitzvah or a wedding. We danced the night away with tons of Norwegians and Frenchies to a DJ from the Bronx.

This was one of my favorite weekends in Korea. I LOVE skiing and I really enjoy exploring new ski traditions and mountains in other countries. Hopefully, I can conquer skiing in South America next. Annie what do you say, next winter vacation in Argentina?

PS: The English signage was extraordinarily funny at the resort. They really need to hire a native English speaker to fix these before thinking about the 2018 Winter Olympics.

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