Skiing at Yong Pyong- Korea Part 1

Jes , 2 Comments

Snow.

It's not a regular thing most Singaporeans get to see. It's a love hate relationship with snow. You long to touch the fluffy white stuff and open your mouth to taste it and throw snowballs, build snowman... on the other side, the excitement dies down pretty fast when it's so bitterly cold and dry and forces you to lose the feel of your nose, toes, fingers and ears.

The show that always involve lots of tears...
Yong Pyong is a popular skiing location for locals but is made internationally famous after Bae Yong Joon shot the Winter Sonata there. It will also be holding the 2018 Winter Olympics. I went there in early February and there was no snow, but the ground was still filled with the white ice either naturally or synthetically. It was not an easy place to find nor is it cheap. The cheapest hotel I can find is Dragon Valley Hotel but it is really exorbitant at S$350 a night... that excludes the ski equipment. o.0

Fearing that the shuttle bus will be difficult to locate and after much researching, most booked through winterfriend.com as a package. They will customise your package for you, including hotels and bring you from airport gate to the shuttle bus area. Tripadvisor mainly have angmoh reviewers so I can understand that they fear the language barrier. However, most young Koreans can speak English so I don't see the reasoning behind this.

Winterfriend is the biggest mistake I have made, do not ever go through them.

It was so easy to buy the tickets near  Exit 9 of Incheon Airport. The only thing is that Winterfriend is able to reserve seats for us, so we will not have to wait 1.5 hours for another bus if there were no tickets. But they just brought us from the Exit 9 to Gate 9C and stood there to wait the shuttle bus with us. That was super dumb and I think I am street smart enough to figure it. They did not even know where to alight -.- It was the first stop anyway.

The snowy view from the hotel room
Actually booking through Winterfriend was not much more expensive but I cant derive the exact price difference as we also booked a Mt Seorak trip with them. We tried trekking without crampons and had fun sliding while we walk. For these kind of tour packages, I would just go through the hotel reception in the future as Winterfriend just provide transport there without a guide to explain about the trails. Then they hurry you back even though they promised a 3 hour tour, we reached hotel earlier by 30 minutes so feel kind of wasted. They still informed me that there is a guide when we hike... all lies.. It's a good lesson as I wise up and never book such package with any independent agency ever again. They have good reviews online maybe because they reply emails and answer all questions promptly but the atrocious service is not able to redeem themselves.

Anyway for skiing equipment, you can rent it right there beside the ski mountain. Winterfriend brought us to somewhere further for cheaper equipment so obviously they can earn more but they wasted our skiing time actually. It's my first time skiing and probably my last since it's expensive to try it again. However, I can really say it's damn fun la! I did not engage any instructors, just put on the skis and fall down, get up again and try to balance. Falling down makes it hard to get up but it's easy to control after some time. After only a few hours, I took the gondola up to a beginner's hill and actually climbing up and departing from the gondola is already quite scary. From the top of the hill just let go and enjoy the thrill..... you might fall down and it's hard to get up on a slope. Try to crouch as low as possible and descend without falling, you will definitely feel the adrenaline rush. And then try again.... it's truly tiring though.
The ride up the beginner's slope
The second day we were much better at it so we could try other slopes. There are maps to indicate which level the slope is so just have fun and enjoy the snow, the cold, the ski. Skiing is at night is really cold so I would suggest the morning and noon sessions only.

Night view of Yong Pyong
For food wise, there is a canteen beside the slope that sells cheap food. We were lucky that we have free food coupons (charges probably already included) for lunch everyday so we saved some money there. However, for dinner do try the Korean BBQ just opposite the Dragon Valley Hotel main door. It is really delicious and expensive and authentic but that's what you get for travelling.

27k won (~@$30) BBQ Beef... sizzling and juicy!
Otherwise, there are Twosquare Cafe, Kraze Burger and other small eateries on the second floor above the canteen. We had Korean cup noodles bought from their mini mart one day and it's really shiok in the cold weather.
Simple, comfort food.. shiok ah!
For departure just cross over to the hotel opposite and ask the reception on the bus back to Incheon / Gimpo airport. We alighted at the first stop which is Gimpo airport and headed straight to Jeju.
The carpark in front of this tower to depart

Jes

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2 comments:

  1. You never fails to amaze me with your photo traveling pictures.

    Im heading out to korea in 2015 and this just confirm that my destination is near and rightfully chosen.

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  2. Hi B,

    It seems I can never surprise you with my destinations, haha. Anyway the photos indeed look so gd... I must admit they look better only when I blog about it and chose the nicest ones out!

    Oh man, your kids are so fortunate. Have fun skiing and falling!

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