Besides getting an education in K-culture and searching for street art on this last trip to Seoul, one other thing I really enjoyed was venturing outside Seoul to experience a Korean winter. The last time I visited Seoul on my first solo trip was in July, middle of the rainy monsoon period and kinda warm in general.
The Korean Tourism Organisation invited me up in mid-December 2015 at the start of ski season, and my fellow Singaporean and Malaysian media spent the trip bundled up like little round balls of wool and Uniqlo-heat-tech every day and still shivered our tropical butts off. Meanwhile our Korean guide and other hosts just looked at us bemusedly and claimed that it was a rather ‘warm winter’.
That’s right folks, average temperatures when we were there were around -3 to 5 degrees celcius and the locals are pooh-poohing the weather as ‘oddly mild’ for that time of the year. And that was evident especially when were in the mountains to ski – there was a lot less snow around.
(Later on in Seoul, there would be a day where the temperature dropped to -7 to -1 degrees celcius all day and was deemed ‘properly cold’)
But still, they had generated enough snow on the ski slopes such that we could still troop out and have a nice time. I hardly got to ski when I was in Melbourne’s Mount Buller previously, so I was really looking forward to this!
We spent one night at High1 Resort at Jeongseum in the Gangwon region, located in the north-eastern part of South Korea. There are several parts to High1 Resort – besides the ski area, we stayed at High1 Hotel (a bit further afield from the ski area – there are other accommodation options right next to the ski slopes) and there is a pretty big casino called KangwonLand which you can connect to by shuttle bus.
The slopes are open in sessions – we got to ski in the afternoon session which is from 12-4pm – we only had about 2 hours though by the time we had lunch and were all geared up! While most of the other media hadn’t skied before, M and I begged off the basic ski instruction and got to try our hand at the beginner slopes.
We skied down from the Mountain Hub to the Valley Hub – You can see an interactive map here. I was trying to identify the route on the map and I think it’s Intermediate AT2 – M decided to take a break earlier while I kept on skiing down to the Valley Hub. From there I took a chairlift up, and it took me a bit further up than I expected! I ended up at the Valley Top right about 4pm where our time was up, skied as fast as I could back down to the Valley Hub and then took the Gondola back to the Mountain Hub.
I was a lot more careful this time around not to get stuck up an advanced slope with no other way down! I definitely learned my lesson after post what happened to me when skiing in Hokkaido a few years back and how I had to get rescued by ski patrol.
More about High1 Resort over at KTO website.
I did a rough cost estimation for what my 1 afternoon of skiing and overnight stay at High1 Hotel would have cost based on current website rates here:
- Ski Lift 1-day PM pass (you need this to access the gondolas and ski lifts): 60,000 KRW (a 7.5hr day-pass for 74,000 KRW definitely is more worthwhile!)
- Ski Equipment Half day: 24,000 KRW (again, a day time rental is just 28,000 KRW)
- 1 night x standard room at High1 Hotel: 160,000 KRW
The next day before heading back to Seoul, we headed up north to Pyeongchang where we visited Alpensia. While we didn’t have time to ski here, our hosts took us to check out the Ski Jump Tower, one of the main sites for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018! You could see quite a lot of construction going around despite the cold weather as they gear up and ready the place for the next Winter Olympics.
As you can see, it was another fine ‘warm winter’ day. Let me just say though that it was really, really windy and that windchill factor was like woah~
We took a mini tram from the field up to the base of the tower. From there we took a lift up to the ski jump platform – you can visit the top of the tower, but the ski jump level is not open to the public, so it was a really cool experience for us to see what it would be like for the athletes up there!
Again, many thanks to Korea Tourism Organisation for this trip to Korea and letting me see a different side of Seoul and its surroundings! They are a great resource for all things Korea. Check out some of my other posts:
- Hello Hallyu! Close encounters with Korea’s megastars
- Where to find street art in Seoul
- Other posts about South Korea