Oak Valley

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February 15th 2014
Published: February 26th 2014
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15th Feb: We left Jamsil at 9:40, the shuttle bus was on time and it was full. I still can't believe that the bus was free! Yeri was telling us that all the major ski resorts have these free shuttle buses. At times like this I wish I spoke Korean and was able to find out about these offers. The traffic was good and we arrived an hour and forty minutes later. We headed straight to the shuttle bus office to book our return journey for the next day. We were undecided between the 1:00 shuttle, as we thought it would be too early, and the 5:30 shuttle, as we thought it was a bit too late, and what would we do all day. However we opted for the later one as there were buses going to all our home towns, Jamsil, Sadang, Yeongtong, and Dongtan. Anything to save the commute back home from Seoul.

We went for a little bit of a wander we checked out the slopes, and then went to find some lunch. The first place we went into was tiny and packed, but they pointed us in the direction of the cafeteria. This place was huge. We ordered up a big feast to share. We had bulgogi, omurice, donkass, and sundubu stew. It was all really nice, apart from the sundubu stew, as the broth was a bit too fishy.

We headed off to buy our lift passes and pay for our ski and snowboard hire. The queue wasn't too long, but we got stuck behind a family, who were asking a tonne of questions and kept changing their minds. The poor woman behind the counter, when she looked up and saw some more foreigners. We were like it's okay, we'll promise to be quick! We all got sorted very quickly and we got some great discounts. I don't know why they do such good discounts if you pay by card. We mostly got 40% off our lift passes and ski or board hire, but Mel got her lift pass for only 10,000 won (the original price was about 42,000 won), so we got some good bargain. I don't know if it's because the season is coming to an end or because there was a crap amount of snow this year, or because Oak Valley isn't a great ski resort.

We headed downstairs and went to rent some clothing first. It was 15k for a jacket and pants. The clothes were pretty ghetto. We were a bit disappointed. Then we filled out our forms, and went and collected our equipment. We got booted up and put our bags in the lockers. At long last we hit the slopes! The ski resort isn't very big. There were only three lifts and there was plenty of snow on the slopes, shame there was very little on the mountains surrounding the slopes. We spent a few hours skiing and boarding. The runs were good, not too busy, but the queues for the lifts were ridiculous. On one of the smaller lifts I was waiting over twenty minutes, so only used that one once. I stuck to the bigger eight-man chairlifts. That moved quickest but the queuing times were over 15 minutes. I thought I was going to kill someone, having to wait do long, what really infuriated me was that even though the queue was massive, lots of time there were empty seats on the lifts, because people wanted to sit with their friends. Seriously, it's a five minute ride, meet them at the top. The lift attendants need to man up too, and force people to fill the empty seats.

The views from the top of the mountain were gorgeous and you could see all the surrounding mountains. You could see how little snow had fallen this year, as the mountains looked bare. My favourite run was one of the black ones, Korean black runs aren't that hard. I was gutted when they had shut it before the 5pm closing time as I wanted it to be my last run. I got whistled at by ski patrol, too because they had closed off another run and I didn't realise until too late and I had bombed under their barrier. Opps! But it's a bit shady that they shut for two hours to groom the piste, yet shut a couple of runs before the 5pm finish time.

We returned all our skis, boards, boots, and clothing, and caught up with Yeri, who'd had a lovely relaxing afternoon drinking coffee. The owner of our pension came and picked us up. It was a short drive down the hill. The pension is lovely, it looks brand-new, and even has an upstairs. Although the stair case looks a bit dodgy. There deffo can't be more than one person at a time on it. We spent some time chilling and chatting. Yeri had made some cookies, so we devoured them, they were delicious.

After a while, we left the pension in search of dinner. The village is pretty small, with not much going on, but there were a couple of restaurants. We went to a samgyeopsal place. I'm not a huge fan of samgyeopsal, but beecause I haven't had it in ages, it was really nice. We ate loads of meat, rice and kimchi jjigae (stew), it was all delish. We washed it down with Chung Ha, better tasting that soju and similar to sake. Chuck also cooked some of the garlic cloves in soju, that tasted really good, too.

After dinner, we headed to Family Mart, one still exists in Korea, and stocked up on supplies for the noraebang. Booze, water and dessert. We tried to hide as much stuff as possible in our bags, as the noraebangs don't like you to take in your own stuff, but to buy their overpriced drinks and snacks. We headed up the hill back to the ski village, as that's where the noraebang was. We had an epic two hour sesh, singing our hearts out. We sang some of the classics, but the noraebang book was missing some of the best songs, no Bonnie Tyler!

We walked back to the hostel and sat chatting for a while. Also today was the first full moon of the year (lunar year) and Yeri showed us this ritual that farmers do to find out what the future has in store for them. So we took turns in threading pine nuts on to a needle and setting them on fire. If the flames burns brightly and strongly, then you are in for a good year, the farmers would of had a great crop. We had a great laugh doing this and decided that the blobs of flames that fell were the babies we would have this year. Mel's looked like a devil's pitchfork at one point, not a good start to the year! My flame was pretty good, so I hope I have a good year.

16th Feb: The alarms started going off around 8 am, none us of were moving. Just far too tired. Mel was the first one to start moving and we were all up and dressed and ready tot go by 9:45. The lovely owner of the pension drove us up to the golf village, so we could get the buffet breakfast. The golf village was miles away. Our pension, out of the resort, was closer to the ski village than the golf village. I'm glad that it was full and we didn't end up staying there. The whole resort was massive! I had no idea it was so big! We finally found the building that the breakfast buffet was in, it was kinda hidden round the back. We had an hour to stuff our face. The buffet was nice, but not amazing. It cost 18,000 won, so was quite pricey, but they didn't have the greatest selection. Lots of stuff was lukewarm, I guess that's the peril of eating at a buffet. I stocked up on eggs, sausages, ham, toast, and pineapple. I also had some fried rice and chicken, not your normal breakfast, but nice. I just wish that although the coffee was plentiful, it had been warmer.

We rolled out of the buffet as it was closing and decided to go on a short hike, as the golf village had several hiking trails that you could do. We walked through the small sculpture garden. It wasn't really that exciting, the sculptures were pretty small and not that exciting. The start of the trail was a t the back of the village behind the sculpture garden. We did a short hike, it only lasted about half an hour and was pretty easy, as the track is all clean and wide, easy for walking on. The track ended rather abruptly with a sign saying do not go any further.

We consulted a trail map and found another short trail that would take us to North Condo, which is where we needed to be to get the shuttle bus back to the Ski Village. the first part was up hill, it wasn't too bad, but we were carrying all our stuff. The trail was pretty repetitive, go down a steep slippery icy snowy bit, cross a dubious looking small bridge covered with snow and then up a steep part that was pretty snow free. The trail was pretty, but there wasn't lot to see. That part of the trail took us longer than the guide suggested as it was so slippery in parts. We finally made it to the North Condo. It was a bit of a ghost town inside, I suppose everyone was out skiing or playing golf.

We headed down the hill to wait for the shuttle bus that would take us back to the Ski Village, the bus turned up on time and the journey took about ten to fifteen minutes. It would have taken us forever to walk it. It's all windy roads with no pavements for pedestrians to walk on. We headed straight for the building, which housed the swimming pool and sauna. They were bloody expensive, 26,000 won to use both. We got discounts for using our bank cards, I think the discount was about 30%, so it came to just under 20k each.

We headed upstairs to the sauna first. It was very plush inside, so I can see why it's expensive. After stripping off we showered and then made use of the sauna. It was a pretty small sauna, only two pools, but the pools were good. The hot one was not too hot and the cold one was not too cold. Perfect! There were also two western style sauna rooms, I went in the wet one for a bit, but there's no way I could do the dry one. They make me feel so dehydrated, it's like I'm turning into a wizened piece of fruit. After another quick dip in the baths, we decided to head down to the swimming pool.

Nobody at the reception had bothered to mention the fact that we would need swimming caps to use the pool. Swimming caps, the bane of my life for swimming in Korea. I just don't understand the obsession with them. Anyway, the lovely ajumma at the sauna had some spare ones that she lent us. I totally picked the most ridiculous one. It was a child's white cap with a couple of red bands around it and to top it off a yellow bobble on the top. Hilarious! Everyone was pissing themselves laughing at me, me included. Yeri asked the woman if it would be okay to take a photo, a total no-no, due to all the naked ladies walking around, but she said yes as long as we were in a certain spot and she supervised us.

We went down to the swimming pool, it was freezing! And full of kids! We spent a while in there, we sat in the massage spots and had some jet massages and a good bit crack. Until it got too cold and we retreated back to the sauna to warm up. We spent ages in the dressing area, getting ready and having a good old natter. Until finally we had to leave, as poor Chuck was getting impatient, as he had no one to chat to in the male side.

We were a little peckish, so we headed to the BBQ chicken joint that was in the basement of the building next to the noraebang we went to last night. We order half and half of two types of chicken and a combination pizza. The food was okay, not amazing, but it filled a hole and it was gone five by the time we had paid up and left. A quick stop at the convenience store and then we headed down to the shuttle buses to get home. Me and Mel thought we would be on the same shuttle, but we were on separate buses. Luckily all our shuttle buses were at the same, and they left on time at five thirty. The journey was quick as the traffic was good and an hour and a half later I was getting off the bus at home.

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