Winter in Korea Day 2 (8 December 2010): Snow, snow, snow!

Surprisingly I slept through 2 wake-up calls and only woke up 20 minutes before everyone was supposed to meet. Therefore I didn't have time for breakfast. T.T But it's okay because we had a really good lunch, as you will see later. We took a 2 hour drive up to Pyeongchang, to visit Bub Heung Sa temple. ( Halfway through the drive, we stopped for a toilet break, but because I was so tired, I slept through it. I realised I can sleep really easily on buses. Even during the 3-4 hour bus trips to/from Busan and Jeonju, I slept througout.

My favourite hot drink when it's cold out! About 700 KRW a bottle! Doubles up as a hot pack too!

Our guide introducing the temple and its surrounding to us.

An introduction of the temple.

Though I'm not a big fan of temples, I liked how peaceful the place was. It reminded me of the time a group of us climbed up to Mount. Gwanak behind our school. It was early winter, so though there were no Autumn leaves, the place was still pretty in its own way.

We had to go to the top to the main temple. It was so tiring climbing all the way up. Please wear shoes suited for rough terrain! I kinda damaged my boots a little, wished I wore the other pair.

The route up.

The guide explaining to us the pagoda that lies higher up. The second photo shows some of the stone pagodas stacked by people on the way up.

Stone pagodas are known as 돌탑 (Doltap) in Korean and are made by stacking up stones. According to this site I found, there are several (slightly more complicated) reasons why stone pagodas are constructed. But I think the main reason people do it is to make wishes, and then stack the stones without the whole stack falling.

It was really cold, but my hot pack helped loads! (A pack of 2 from Family Mart for 2,100 KRW!) Imagine my happiness when one of the monks there invited us in for hot tea.

The monk had mentioned that temple stays were available, but only through bookings with Hana Tour, a leading Korean tour agency. Alternatively one can contact them directly through their website. But seeing how it is completely in may be quite an obstacle. As yet another alternative, you may also check out Visit Korea's section on Temple Stays where they provide useful information on the types of temple stays available as well as temples that you can make a reservation at.

We were on the bus for about 2 hours more before we reached Gangwondo. And right when we reached the restaurant at Gangwondo, it started to snow! The last time I saw snow was in late March. Needless to say, I was quite excited even though it was so cold. We all began taking photos like crazy.

Myself and Carolyn, a fellow local blogger.

Us with Jennifer, a Malaysian blogger.

We then sat down to a meal of Pollack fish at Hwangtae Myeongga (황태명가). It was barbequed Pollack in spicy sauce and Pollack soup. Pollack is a Gangwondo specialty, hence we got to eat it a lot. (We had it in soup form later that evening too.)

The necessary side dishes at every meal. Side dishes are called Banchan (반찬) in Korean.

This was really "진짜~ 맛있다!" or "Really delicious!".

Also, according to Visit Korea, 70% of the fish caught in Korea is Pollack! Pollack isn't a common fish locally, but I heard about it a lot when watching Family Outing back in 2009. It tastes a little tough and salty...a bit like the fish you get in the local version of Nasi Lemak? But I like Pollack a lot, especially Pollack soup. There is a Pollack Festival held every February in Goseong in Gangwondo to celebrate this specialty. If you're in Korea in February and want to check out the festivities, you can read more HERE.

The menu! Seems a little pricey, no?

We boarded the bus again and stopped by a ski wear rental shop to rent ski clothing. Unfortunately, the guy totally underestimated my size gave me a really small jacket. I changed it to a bigger one, but it was still uncomfortable. One of the reasons I didn't want to take any photos while in my ski clothes - I looked so puffed up!

At the ski wear rental shop! I really liked the pink hoodie hanging on the left!

Prior to going to High 1 Ski Resort (, our guide told us that skiing instructors were "99% good-looking" because most of them tended to be university students working whilst on winter break or something along those lines. That did make me anticipate the skiing lesson later on. Just a little!

When we got there, we had to measure our foot size for our boots and skis. Luckily there was our guide plus a lady from KTO Korea who came along, to help everyone with the instructions and all because there was very few instructions in English. Even though I speak a little Korean, I was still pretty much at a loss on what to do first and all.

Our skiing instructor, true to the words of our guide, wasn't too bad looking. He taught us how to stop, pick ourselves up when we fall (I couldn't do it!) and also how to ski for short distances. We were out for about 1 hour odd before it became dark. We could have continued, but it was just too cold for me to bear. I didn't bring along my beanie so my head was freezing cold. And I didn't have those cool shades like skiiers usually had. Plus the bulky ski wear wasn't making me too enthusiastic.

The instructor in white. Zoom in if you must!

However, I did like my first skiing experience and I really do hope to be able to ski again soon. But the thought of cold wind whipping in my face isn't very appealing. Plus I'm so new to this, so I'm probably gonna need tonnes of lessons (More cute instructors maybe? Hahaha, okay, I'm kidding.) before I ever hit the slopes. Maybe I can practice at Snow City in Singapore. Anyone wants to go?

We went back to our hotel rooms for a rest before heading out to Unamjeong, a traditional-styled eatery located near the High 1 Ski Resort. It was still snowing heavily that evening!

Photo: Koreatimes

Unamjeong, a re-modelled Hanok, was used as a filming site for the SBS drama, The Grand Chef/Sikgaek, starring Kim Raewon. After filming ended, the Hanok was re-opened as a luxury Korean restaurant on 10 July 2009.

Us playing around. Pity my camera wasn't on the right settings so most of my photos there were blurry. Plus it was so cold so I didn't really check either.

Inside the Hanok.

When we went inside, we were brought to a private room and treated to a sumptous dinner of the famous Korean dish, Bibimbap, Bulgogi and some really tasty side dishes. This bibimbap was quite different from those I had previously. The meat in this was freshly-ground raw beef. It was raw, but it tasted really sweet and fresh. The bibimbap was so delicious!

The full meal consisting of Bibimbap, Bulgogi, Pollack soup and many side dishes!

The bibimbap when it's all mixed. Do you see the raw beef?

Our dessert. Also known as 후식 (Husik) in Korean.

Our itinerary ended after dinner but we were encouraged to check the hotel facilities out. A little crash course on casinos in Korea - the casino at Kangwon Land Hotel/High 1 Ski Resort is known as Kangwon Land Casino. It is the first casino to be opened to Koreans from 1995. From what I know from friends, Koreans are not allowed into casinos except for this casino. (They have to pay 5,000 KRW for entry and foreigners get in for free. Just show your passport at the counter and they'll give you a slip to scan at the entrance.)

This being my first time in the casino, I was mad excited. It was pretty easy to use too. Just put your notes into the slot machine and play. I won 11,000 KRW on first try! (Beginner's luck much?) But I used some of it so I eventually left with 3,000 KRW won. No photos cos' we weren't allowed to take any. But it was quite a sight, seeing a casino for the first time!

But here's a photo of myself in bulky winter wear to end off the post!

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