Saturday, January 31, 2015

Snow Tubing!

If you've been following my adventures in South Korea for the past year, you may remember that I have been a member of the 3rd K-Performance Supporters for the Korea Tourism Organization. I've been able to see some great shows and attend some awesome events. It was time to officially wrap up the program for the year, so the KTO bussed us all to the High 1 Resort for an overnight trip of snow tubing and sightseeing.

After a relaxing, three-hour bus ride, we reached Gangwon Province, which is on the north-eastern part of South Korea and is where the 2018 Winter Olympics will be held. We stopped off for a quick lunch of soup and sides - look at the awesome boil going on in my hot stone bowl of bulgogi soup!

After that, it was time to check into the High 1 - it is a huge complex of hotels, convention spaces, golf courses, a casino, a water park, and, of course, skiing amenities! We stayed in the High 1 Hotel, which gave us a GREAT view of the surrounding mountains.

After checking in, we bundled up for an afternoon of tubing and skiing.
I decided to pull out my special hat for the occasion:

The Ski House had a bunch of fun areas to see, in addition to the ski slopes and gondolas. I couldn't resist snapping some pictures of the fun, snow sculptures.

Our first event was a Snow Tube Race Festival for foreigners. We were all given race numbers to wear, shown some safety tips for using the large snow tubes (basically, hold on tight!), and then separated into heats for racing.

While we were having fun trying to reach a stuffed animal at the end of the slope, there was a cameraman taping everything for the KTO. Here is the result - look for me in the furry, blue hat! 

This is Hi-Hou, the High 1 Resort's dog mascot, that we had to capture to win. He was so cute, I ended up bringing home a small stuffed animal for my son.

After the tubing race was finished (and I, sadly, was not victorious), everyone had the opportunity to go skiing on the slopes or take a 1-hour ski lesson. Since I have a bad knee (and just trying to put on the rented boots was pain-inducing), I opted to explore the area a bit more, enjoy a churro, and take a few more pictures instead. 

Back of the Ski House


Ski lessons

Ski lift and slope bottom

That evening, we were treated to a culinary feast in the ballroom, where we were entertained by the cast of Sachoomcould win prizes in a ticket raffle, and medals were given to those who won the Tubing Race.

We then also had the closing ceremony and awards for the 3rd K-Perfromance Supporters. For each event we attended throughout the year, we were awarded points for our our participation and the length of our reviews. The top 15 point earners were honored with certificates and prizes. Four of us tied for first place. What a great group of people from all over the world!

Three of the top four (me, Alex, and Dani) with the KTO Director.

Day 2 started with a large, buffet breakfast before check-out

There were the usual suspects you'd find in a Western breakfast - eggs, cereal, pastries, fruits - and there were also Eastern elements - salad, kimchi, rice dishes.

We loaded our gear onto the busses one more time and headed to Kujulri Station for some fun.

The entire region used to be full of mining facilities, but when the mines closed, things were converted to resorts, such as the High 1. Another thing that was converted was the railroad in Jeongseon from Kujulri to Auraji Stations, which is now a rail biking tourist attraction.

Here was our trusty 4-passenger conveyance for the 7.5 km, one-hour tour. You could probably finish the ride faster, but it depends upon the speed and crazy antics of those in the bikes ahead of you.

The tour leaves the station at specific times and affords a great view of the surrounding area.

The quirky item at Kujulri Station is the set of train cars that have been converted to look like giant grasshoppers...having a fun time, it seems. They are actually small cafés.

We got ready to peddle...

...stopped for a photo op...

...and then headed along the track. We passed through bunch of tunnels - very cool (and cold!)

There were some staged items along the way - like this wolf.

I also noticed a number of traditional burial mounds near a number of the farms. There were many, which I later took pictures of from the bus on the way home. Each farm or house had a simple mound, sometimes unmarked or sometimes with ornate monuments, up on a hillside or in a removed location for the burial of their ancestors.

Burial sites seen along the bus ride home:
As we came around the bend at the end of the bike ride, we saw this interesting bridge:

And then we arrived at Auraji Station, and another set of fun train cars - this time, they were carp.

Want to spend a few minutes virtually riding the rails with me? 
A fellow K-Supporter, Zach, recorded the entire trip from the front of seat of our rail bike - you can experience the trip (in fast forward) HERE.

Our last stop was lunch nearby and we ate while seated on the floor.

We had a great assortment of side dishes, with some regional delicacies. The large black platter on the left was an excellent tasting deodeok, a root vegetable that reminded us of carrot.

Thus ended an epic trip and year with the KTO! It was an absolute pleasure to be a part of this group and I hope you all enjoyed reading about my experiences with them.

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