(Credit to SungSu Kim for many of the amazing skiing pics and pics at the resort) 🙂
Skiing, But in Korea!
These past few days Korea has been preparing for their new year. Or specifically, the Lunar New Year. This is a time to get together with family to celebrate and to have special meals for the occasion. We had the privilege this year to go with Sungsu Kim and celebrate with his family at Vivaldi Park. It was a nice skiing resort and it was also fun because we got to travel further into the mainland of Korea. The adventure started off with us packing up and taking the subway to the “Sports Complex” stop. The reason for the name of the stop remained a mystery until we got there. Turns out it was the site for the 1988 Summer Olympics. There were multiple stadiums and courts all around. I don’t have a picture of this however because we were a little late in getting to the sports complex stop and as we met Sungsu we immediately boarded the bus to Vivaldi Park. Which by the way was free! The hour and twenty minute bus ride was free for all three of us, pretty cool. The area outside of Seoul started to look more and more like it had been described to us; A very tall mountainous country. As we headed along the highway there were rivers, parks and shops all along the way. English text slowly started to be more scarce than it is in Seoul too…
When we got to the park we were very much impressed. There was the tall mountain on our right which the ski slopes were and seemingly as tall of resort hotels on our left. We went into the “Maple” resort and headed up to Sungsu’s family’s room. Upon getting there we got to meet his family-Mom, Dad, Uncle, Aunt and Grandma. They were all very nice and through a little Korean and English were able to say hello and such. The fact that his uncle spoke a good amount of English and Sungsu was there to translate for us through the evening really made it work. Sungsu’s grandma, or “halmoni”, was especially sweet. She kept encouraging us to eat more food and complimenting us on our looks. Hehe. Then, the dinner…I have to say right now this was one of the most interesting things I have ever experienced. We sat down at the table with Kimchi, pork, greens, lettuce, dumplings, Kimchi pancakes, rice and much more. The food was placed in the middle and the style was to take (with chopsticks) what you wanted and bring it to your plate. What made it really different was how involved everyone was, Sungsu’s relatives were all encouraging us to try this and that, it seemed like so much was constantly moving. Also, we were trying to abide by customs such as taking a drink facing away from those that are older than you. The food was different but it was soooo good. Sungsu’s grandma made the Kimchi-buckwheat pancakes, and they were amazing! They were my personal favorite of all the foods. Sungsu’s Mom, aunt and grandma are all very talented cooks. Everything was very tasteful and the dessert was tangerines and parsimonies. Sungsu’s uncle was the life of the table especially being able to speak English well enough to tell jokes. The things he told us about Korea were very interesting!
After that it was time to go skiing, we suited up and rented our gear (again at the kindness of Sungsu’s family). Now, I have been skiing a good amount of times before but it was Madeline’s first time skiing ever. For the sake of trying something new I rented out a snowboard instead of skis as well. Bunny slope time! For having to start from not knowing what we were doing at all I would say that Madeline picked up skiing pretty well. Her stopping power may not have been the most perfect but she learned very quickly how to get down the slope without falling. I was doing ok with the snowboard. I figured out how to ride pretty easily and with Sungsu’s help to switch off my feet. However, I did fall a lot because I expected to have the same ability to stop and such like with skis and I didn’t have it; at least not at my experience level. After falling and hurting my wrist I was able to switch to skis so that I could do something more comfortable and enjoy myself more. Maybe I will try snowboarding again another day, but I didn’t feel as though it would be as fun for me. Having my feet both locked together on a board wasn’t so easy. We then moved to a bigger slope and started to ski down it. It was a lot more fun and we went down it a bunch of times. Maddie was having trouble going down in the most controlled fashion but made it work. I talked to her about slaloming down the hill instead of going straight down. That’s when trouble hit. Ok, maybe not that bad, but as I was skiing in front of Maddie and making my way down the hill. As I looked back for her, instead of seeing her skiing behind me I look just in time to see her crash through the side fence. It was honestly a little heart stopping. I stopped on the side, threw off my gloves, ski poles and skis and ran back up the hill towards her. Sungsu was above us so he got over there pretty quick. Both of her skis had come off and her glasses were on the ground (surprisingly unbroken) a nearby slope worker saw what happened and called the snowmobile. She asked me if her eyes were dilated and seemed very shaken up. Even though I was fully conscious, I was paranoid that I could have a concussion, so I asked Calum to check my eyes. The snowmobile came and we got her on it. I grabbed the poles, skis and gloves and started down the mountain after it. Smart Sungsu put on his snowboard and rode down but I got down fast enough. After getting checked out and multiple blood pressure checks it was shown that she was fine. Though she was a little bruised it wasn’t a big injury. She still had a lot of fun though! I’m making a full recovery, haha. Looking back at it now she really didn’t do anything that bad but it was scary at the time.
After that we exited the slope, went back to the room and ordered a little food. At Sungsu’s request, we had Korean fried chicken, and it was so good! Not long after we went to bed to rest. The next day we had the traditional mandoo soup (Dumpling soup) that is customary on new years day. Kind of the like black eyed peas that Madeline’s family does on new years day in America. We said our goodbyes to Sungsu’s family and got back on the free bus to Seoul. We will definitely see Sungsu again while we were here and it was one of the best times I’ve had. Definitely a unique experience to say the least. We are so thankful to Sungsu and his family for giving us this opportunity. We are so very fortunate. Happy New Years to anyone who follows the lunar calendar by the way!
With input from Maddie