PyeongChang Ski Holiday
A New Ski Holiday Destination
PyeongChang has been on my mind ever since I saw the coverage of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics 2018. Our family loves ski holidays in various combinations & permutations. We first took M4 & M5 to ski with their older siblings in the French Alps, where my best memories are of my husband cooking up a storm in the chateau: https://mummyfique.com/jade-six-vacation/. After M1-3 enjoyed some serious skiing with us in Austria, I went to Japan with M3-6 for the silliest adventures between Nozawa Ski Bunnies Vs Mama Bear. Hilarity ensued.
This winter, I decided to take just M4 to Korea to check the ski slopes in PyeongChang out, just the two of us. We took the red eye flight. Consequently, most photos of M4 journeying are slumped across his luggage like a snowman in spring.
Once we left Incheon Airport, the biting cold woke us up. Daylight unfolded while we waited for the bus to bring us to Seoul; the thrill of being on the brink of a tremendous adventure sank in.
One of the best things about bringing M4 to South Korea for the first time, is being able to visit touristy destinations without qualms. For instance, I brandished him as an excuse to visit Lotte World, a theme park within an enormous mall & multiplex. Most adventures were included in the entry price although a few attractions required additional tickets. Particularly enjoyable were the virtual reality games and rides. We giggled at the incongruity between dainty Christmas decorations and the forbidding Tomb Of Horror. The Tomb of Horror was worth the queue and extra ticket price. Oh, how we stumbled through, screaming and laughing as we clutched each other.
N Seoul Tower
At night, we took a cable car up N Seoul Tower, which is the tallest tower in Asia. The top of the tower is 480m above sea level, including Namsan Mountain (243m) and the tower itself (237m). Along the paths, the railings are wrapped in colourful locks placed by lovers, inscribed with declarations. Festive Christmas trees comprised of these very locks decorated one of the lookout points. We navigated various rooms with elaborate light shows & holograms and enjoyed every touristy aspect.
One of my favourite spots in the Tower was the toilet. It was exhilaratingly liberating to be on the toilet while appreciating the impressive view accorded by full length glass walls. Although I’ve never taken so many photos in a toilet ever I felt justified by delighted squeals from neighbouring stalls.
In & Around PyeongChang
PyeongChang is a pleasant 2 hour drive away with a very decent rest stop where the food is delicious, particularly those featuring local beef. Once in PyeongChang, we found plenty of ski rentals with the latest gear and shortly, we were ready to rock and roll.
Skiing in YongPyong Resort
Although there are several ski resorts in PyeongChang, we chose YongPyong Ski Resort. Not all the slopes were open as we were there relatively early in the season. However the snow was adequate with just enough ice to keep you on your toes. I enjoyed watching M4 develop as a skiier. Initially he was quite conservative, focusing more on how to ski safely across the yellow slope slowly rather than plummeting straight down. However once he found his snow legs, he was able to enjoy going down pink, gold and red slopes. We loved the thrill of the night skiing as well as the glorious sunshine and clear paths in the day.
Personally, my most joyous moments were when we were skiing and chatting at the same time, pointing out interesting trees or mysterious animal tracks. I couldn’t help but wonder what adventures we might have when he’s old enough to go scuba diving with me.
When we weren’t skiing, we explored rest of Gangwon-do province, beyond the town of PyeongChang. We drove to the city of Gangneung, where the beautiful sunset over Winter Beach captivated us. I remember the cool air on my face as I listened to the waves crashing, gazing at M4 as he made his way leisurely across the sand. That beach stretches for 6km and is famous for pine trees on the sea shore.
In the north of Gangneung City is Bohemian Roasters, a coffee factory and café. After I gawked at the machinery involved in producing my coffee, I tried various blends while M4 relished ice-cream made with organic milk from the local farm.
Warm Food, Warm Hearts
Throughout our ski holiday we ate extremely well. I’m so grateful to my hosts, Seungho & Haerin, for taking us to the best places and explaining all the locally sourced food.
M4’s favourite restaurant is owned by a sweet old lady who makes her own kimchi and buries it for months. Her spicy kimchi was the best I’ve ever had. I washed it down with a bowl of raw rice wine. But what M4 enjoyed most of all was her Ong-shim-i, dumplings in potato gruel. I had some as well and it was simply delicious.
In all the restaurants, the bosses came by to serve and chat with our Korean hosts, asking after our children. Unfortunately I speak no Korean. Yet I felt the warmth of their welcome. Reciprocally, I think they sensed M4’s & my appreciation of their local delicacies.
In order to avoid gridlock traffic on the way back from PyeongChang, Haerin took us back to Seoul by train. Consequently, ours was a mere 2 hour trip, while Seungho kindly drove our luggage back.
The entire time we journeyed back to Singapore, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the memories from this ski holiday. Based on the excited chatter through video conversations with M5 & M6, I’m sure we’ll return to PyeongChang, probably with the little ones in tow.