Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Korea: the ski trip

Over Chinese New Year, we traveled to Korea to experience some real winter weather. For ages now, the kids have been clamoring for snow, not seen since we moved to Hong Kong five years ago. For the record, we did take them to Snow City in Singapore with artificial snow and sleds but no one was satisfied with that. So this year, we borrowed lots and lots of winter gear and travelled to Korea. As soon as we stepped outside of the airport into the cold wind with a dusting of snow on the concrete, the kids started smiling. I kept waiting for them to get cold and stop liking it but it never happened. Not then and not anytime over the next couple very cold and very snowy days.

We spent a day or so in Seoul, staying at a centrally located hotel and walking through the mall that the hotel was connected to. It was all very easy and out of the snow. The kids kept running outside of the mall whenever there was a door opening out to the world and we kept pulling them back inside. This mall had great aquarium which we all enjoyed. The aquarium staff put on a little show in honor of what is called the Lunar, rather than Chinese, New Year. It was an odd yet captivating show in which staff members, dressed in scuba gear and bunny costumes, dove into a large tank and made a large school of sardines swim around in different directions, flashing the crowd with their shimmering colors. We also enjoyed a folk museum in Seoul. Again, Phil and I stayed inside and learned about family worship in ancient Korea. Our kids, not idolizing and barely even acknowledging their parents, ran outside in the snow yet again.
To ski we drove three hours out of Seoul (not to the north), to the Muji ski resort. Built in the last twenty years to look like a little Alpine village, the check-in lodge was large with high wood beamed ceilings. We were welcomed in with trays of what looked like hot chocolate. The kids dove in only to discover the drink was actually coffee. Our trip was a lot like that first impression; very nice but you had to squint a little. We stayed in the family lodges which were great. The kids’ bedroom was typically Korean, with heated floors and lots of mats and blankets. We bundled into our ski clothes and walked a few minutes to the slopes, where the real fun began.
The kids took ski lessons the first afternoon. We found a very nice ski instructor who spoke English and the kids were off and skiing. At one point, we left them on the bunny hill and came back a few minutes later to discover they were gone. I tried to ask other instructors where they were but no one spoke English. Finally, we saw them at the top of a 1000 meter hill, slowly coming down. Everyone caught on quickly and fairly in-line with their personalities. Adam skied straight down the hills, often crashing into the orange safety netting. Tori skied with a mix of speed and skill work. Royce focused on the fundamentals. And all had fun.
Before the first day was out, all kids were off on their own. Where we were skiing, there were a couple of chair lifts and some fairly long runs. All kids were riding the chair lifts by themselves and going in all directions. I loved to look up and see one of our kids sitting with a middle aged Korean man, deep in conversation.  Everyone was eager to talk to us and very friendly. Though there was not a lot of English, we got by with the kids’ charm, their Chinese and our remedial Russian. It was all very multicultural and fun but I have to say we ate at the on-site Domino’s Pizza much more often than we ate the local kimchee!


Post a Comment

<< Home