Tag Archives: jimjjilbang

High 1 Ski Resort

I love winter in Korea! I finally got round to using my season pass for High 1 last week. I’ve blogged about snowboarding in Korea before but I’d like to re-iterate what an amazing deal you get with a season pass.

If you’re new to the game, start with these 2 steps: join Snowboard and Ski South Korea  and Korea-snow.com. This way, you will be notified when season passes become available on the internet – usually around September, after Chuseok. There are two rounds of season pass registrations, one in September and again in November. There is a slight price hike if you go with November.

What’s so great about a season pass? The price. I paid 238,000 won for a season pass that covers me from December to March- lift pass AND return bus shuttle from Pohang to High 1 Resort included. I don’t think you can get this deal at this price anywhere else in the world. I have my own gear now but if you have to rent a board and boots it works out to 30,000 won per day (from 08:30 to 16:00). NOTE: the season pass IS more expensive for guys… around 352,000 won I believe. Tour operators such as Enjoy Korea and Waegook Travel usually charge the price of a season pass for a weekend’s worth of snowy fun.

I highly recommend NOT going over the weekend. If you have a season pass, go during the week so that you can enjoy the non-existent queues, wide open spaces and uncrowded slopes. Weekends are just crazy busy- you’re looking at 20-30 minute queues to get on the ski lift. No thanks.

This past weekend High 1 held a Snow Festival, which included a Snow Tubing Festival. Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) offered bloggers the opportunity to attend the Festival and stay at High 1 CC Hotel. I’ve only ever visited High 1 during winter but during the summer months it’s actually known for being a Country Club! Playing golf country club style is a pretty exclusive activity since space comes at such a high premium in this mountainous country. Koreans love golf and screen golf and netted driving ranges are incredibly popular.

High 1 CC Hotel’s facilities include a sauna, conference rooms, restaurants and a golf equipment shop. There is also a casino nearby, the  only one that is actually accessible to Koreans and foreigners (it’s illegal for Koreans to gamble).

My room was spacious, comfortable and tastefully decorated and offered an exquisite view of the mountains. We were treated to a delicious buffet and a post-dinner show by Sachoom! Sachoom’s dance performance is funny, energetic and covers a range of styles from B-Boy to K-pop to ballet.

I didn’t have time to try out the sauna, but once I got back down to Valley Ski House and saw the carnage of Saturday crowds, I decided to try out the jimjjilbang Sauna instead. Located between the Valley Ski House and Valley Condominium, a soak, scrub and steam will cost you 7,000 won. If you choose to have the whole jimjjilbang experience (sleeping there) it will cost 10,000 won.

You can also swim at Mountain Plaza, use the outdoor sauna (you need to wear a swimsuit), play pool, sing at Rush norebang or play arcade games!

Bottom line, you don’t have to be bored at High 1! I’m really going to miss winters in Korea. Shout out to KTO for hooking us up with the good stuff!

 

 

Seoul to Busan Day 1 (Ara West Sea Lock to Yangsu-ri)

We bussed up the night before and stayed at a jimjjilbang in Incheon. If you’re a light sleeper take ear plugs because there is usually a snorer/ a loud TV. You can leave your phone with the sauna/ changing room attendant- the sleeping area itself had no plugs to use (this is not always the case). Waterpia has a gym as well but don’t worry about using it- you’re about to cycle just under 700km. We locked our bikes together outside (there is CCTV and it’s a lit area). The 2 nearest subway stations are 도와악 or 제물포역(line 1). Seoul subway stays open til around 00:30 on weekdays but it’s worth downloading the Seoul subway app to help you plan your journey if you arrive late at night. The next morning we cycled about 12km to our  starting point, Ara West Sea Lock. DO NOT cross over the Han at any time, just stay on the south side. There are a few confusing signs that might tempt you to cycle on the northern side but it’s a trap. If you don’t care about the Ara sticker you can start at Yeoido CC, which marks the start of the Hangang route. If you don’t give a toss about stickers, stamps and medals just start at Banpo Bridge (you can stay at Jin’s Paradise).

Page 13 in KTO’s Hangang Vol. 1 can be confusing. The Gwangnaru Certification Center (CC) is ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE to Ttukseom Observation Complex CC. The way it’s written might suggest that it’s on the same side. Also, read the map from page 13 up to page 12, not the other way around: Gwangnaru CC comes before Gangdongdaegyo (bridge). We kept the river on our left until we crossed over at Paldangdaegyo (bridge).

Point of interest: As Seoul falls away and gives way to trees it all becomes very scenic. There are lots of bike stalls and CU convenience stores between Ara and Paldangdaegyo (bridge) to sort out food, drink and bike issues. Paldang marks the start of the Namhangang route(North Han River) which runs for about 121km to Chungju Tangeumdae CC. The old railway tunnels that you’ll ride through are amazing, especially the ones with disco lights and classical music.

My original Day 1 plan was to go from Ara to Gangcheon CC. We made a navigation error after Neungnae Station CC (p.17). After Neungnae we should have gone  to Yangsu Station but we ended up turning onto the Bukhangang  (South Han River) route(p.50) by accident (starting with Balgeungwangjang CC). The Bukhangang is beautiful and we rode past stunning modern architecture, watersport centres and funky cafes for about 15km until we realised our mistake. I can’t wait to do this route properly but our detour cost us 30km and over an hour lost.

We got lost after this. Check your route when you see this bridge and café! Don't go onto the Bukhangang by accident!
We got lost after this. Check your route when you see this bridge and café! Don’t go onto the Bukhangang by accident!

We stayed at a motel on Yangsu-ri (island), just past the e-motel. The motel has space upstairs to lock up bikes securely, we paid 17,000 won each (3 people) to share a room and they did our laundry for us. We had issues at the e-motel, which is the 1st motel you’ll come across, since they refused to let guys and girls share a room.  Yangu-ri has lots of Korean restaurants and a pizza place to choose from. Our Korean barbeque cost 14,000 each including beer and soju- perfect recovery food, minus the soju 😉

Day 1 summary: 141km total (starting at Waterpia, including nav. error) 12 hours total time.

Fact of the day: Andrew points out the smell of chestnut trees in bloom, aka “semen trees”. I thought I’d have been the first to sniff out such a thing but it doesn’t smell like anything I’ve ever come across. Maybe I should stop dating smokers, pot heads and alkies, hehehe.