Tuesday, February 23, 2010

SKI KOREA: Part Two

YONG PYONG

Taking advantage of a three-day weekend a few weeks ago, seven Daegu boys and I headed up to Yong Pyong, one of the biggest ski resorts in Korea. We were a rowdy gang and it made for some memorable experiences.

To kick things off, Handsome James and another Brit by the name of Jon went out hard the night before we left. Even with an 11:00AM bus departure (cake in comparison to the 5:00AM departure we made to hit HighOne), they were late. The five of us that made it on time were sitting on the bus at 10:59 thinking they were screwed. We got them on the phone and they were still on their way in a cab. They said they had arrived at the station and we tried to create a diversion, and Tim ran off the bus to meet them, but then they said they actually hadn't arrived, the cabbie had just faked them out.

"No way they'll make it."

After getting yelled at by the driver for holding things up for nothing, the bus pulled out of the lot and began pulling around the station building. We were still on the phone with them.

"Wait, we're really here, we're really here!"
"We're pulling out now, run to the Lotteria! The bus is heading right towards it..."

At that moment, we could see them in the street. James bravely approached the front of the bus and got it to stop. The driver VERY reluctantly let them on and proceeded to yell and unload a series of crazy emphatic gestures. There was (we think) much profanity. We felt bad, but couldn't help but laugh, because we had no idea what he was saying, and in these situations, they're aware of this fact, but still chew us out anyway.

Having made his point, the driver went to a compartment behind his seat and pulled out two plastic mats. We looked around and saw there wasn't a single empty seat - their two seats had been taken by other passengers waiting in standby. So the driver unrolled the mats, handed them to James and Jon and gestured to the floor.

"Oh no, oh yes! James and Jon are about to enjoy the four-and-a-half hour bus ride on the floor of this bus - hilarious."

Still smelling of soju and just breathing hangover, they luckily found this about as funny as we did.

On to the actual skiing...

Yong Pyong was a much bigger mountain and since it was the Korean/Chinese New Year (they also observe the lunar calendar) nobody was there. No lines means lots and lots of runs. We also had the fortune of a huge snowstorm just before we arrived. It was incredible. We got off the bus right next to this tree. It's so Asian, and so snowy, I was so excited.
The landscape outside the lodge.

At the resort, sleeping arrangements hadn't quite been sorted out. The guys that had the original idea reserved beds in a hostel, but once more of us expressed interest, the place was booked. James, Jon, Tim and I managed to work out a plan to stay in a condo of a friend of a friend from Seoul. What we weren't prepared for was that it was the Korean idea of "condo" with a small bedroom and one "living" area connected with a kitchen and we were to share space with a cheeky 13 other people.
James and Tim take it in on our way up to the first run of the weekend.
Stefan, Brady, Kelso and James in a Korean winter wonderland.
We hit up night skiing twice, and the lift rides alone would have been worth the lift ticket. With fresh snow on the trees and beautifully lit stretches of mountain around the lift line, it was like floating through Narnia or something. The pictures hardly do justice.
Me and the Britboys were the last to make it back to the condo later that night and made no friends as we waded and chuckled through the dark room dense with slumbering bodies. I found real estate underneath a glass coffee table, no blanket, no pillow, no problem.

Day Two

In contrast to HighOne, we managed to keep the group intact. Everybody was pretty close in level and pacing so it was easier. All in all, the runs were leisurely and I could feel my boarding ability improving. I only took two "bad" falls all weekend.
The fresh snow a little more clearly seen the next day...
The summit of the highest run.
Love these guys.
Strapped in and ready to rock...
Spying Tim, Brady, Stefan and James in front of another really Asian-looking snow covered tree.
Stunning.

On the way back, we thought it would more fun and about the same price for us to rent a car to get back down to Daegu. Tim, through amazing trials and travails recently got his Korean driver's license. All the test consisted of was him doing one standing squat. This basically concedes that if you're fit to use a "standard" (squat) toilet in the Republic of Korea, you're fit for the roads. God help us all...

If you're curious, Hertz said no. We took a bus.

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