Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Muju Ski Resort

I FINALLY got my snowboarding fix in. After hearing about all of my friends back at home going boarding (and being super jealous), I found a weekend I could actually make it to the Korean slopes. Thank god I decided to teach in a place that has mountains.

Saturday morning at about 8:30am, Shaun and I took a bus to Muju from Namwon. Almost 2 hours later we made it to Muju (thanks to the non-express bus... about 4 or 5 stops later). The free shuttle to the resort decided to pass us up, so ended up taking a taxi... which happen to be a lot more expensive than in other cities. As we got closer to the mountain, we saw the streets littered with rental shops. I'm not even sure if other businesses exist because all you could see for blocks were skis and snowboards. We stopped at the end of the row of ski shops and walked into the first store we found. The people working there were very friendly, spoke decent English, and even offered to drive us to our hotel. We rented everything we needed there: boards, boots, outfits, goggles. It turned out to be about 70,000 won each for two days worth of rentals. Insane right??
By the time we got our equipment, checked in, etc, it was about 1pm. Not as early as we had hoped to get on the mountain, but fortunately the slopes in Korea  are open until 2am!! Instead of purchasing a day lift ticket like back at home, the day is broken up into different sessions (and closes for 2 hours in the afternoon to plow the slopes): early morning, morning, afternoon, evening, night, late night. So, the amount depends on when you want to ski but is still relatively inexpensive compared to home. AND if you pay with your KB or NH bank cards, you get about 20% off of your ticket purchase.

Some differences between Korean slopes and American slopes:
- The price. Korea is just cheaper
- The amount of people. You have NEVER seen this many people trying to ski at one time or this many people in line for a lift.
- The skill level. I don't know about skiers, but the amount of people who can actually snowboard well is significantly lower. Even the more difficult slopes were scattered with inexperienced people.
- Mountain etiquette. Either there isn't any or people don't abide by it. We played "dodge the people" all day because they were scattered all across the runs, in the middle of the runs, and running straight into you or in front of you on the runs. I luckily only got cut off once during the whole weekend and was able to avoid all other collisions, but you will rarely hear an apology if someone plows you over on the slope. Also, people constantly bump into the back of your equipment in line... no personal space. Good thing the equipment wasn't mine.
- Matching outfits. Korean couples do it on and off the slopes.
- Holding your snowboard on the lift. Most people hold onto their boards while on the ski lift, instead of putting one foot into the binding. I don't know the reason for this but it is REALLY funny watching people run off of the lift after it approaches the end of the line. We decided against this and still kept one foot in (thus the bumping of equipment).

We boarded until 10pm that night, and only took a break to meet up with Shelley and get dinner. Sunday was yet another full day of snowboarding, except a little less people (at least on one side of the mountain). SO excited I finally got to snowboard here. Unfortunately the majority of the slopes close in February and my February is booked. This was possibly my first and last trip, but I am grateful that I actually got to go!

Waiting in line- a view of the line and the
hundreds of people coming down the hill.
Me and Shaun
Midday= little visibility. This was just the start of it.
Me and Shelley
A view of the lift lines on the busiest side of the mountain.

1 comment:

Cherry™ said...

Muju Resort is full of fun. Recently there was even a special event. Bikini Skiing~ I like your post.