When my Korean friend Leon invited me to join him on a ski trip, I was a bit hesitant. He wanted to go to High1 Ski Resort last Saturday. High1 is in Gangwon province, which is a four-hour bus ride from Daegu. I was worried that the bus ride (beginning at 4am) would not be worth it. Simply put, Korea isn’t always good at emulating western-style entertainment, so my expectations were low. In the end, I chose to trust Leon and try something new.
The bus was delayed an hour, so we got to sleep in (until 3:45am). Leon booked a “limousine bus” for us, which has much more space-per-seat than normal buses. We both nodded off for most of the ride. As soon as we arrived at High1, I knew that I’d made the right choice. As soon as I saw the main ski lodge, I knew that High1 was much nicer than most resorts in the southeast US.
From the bottom of the mountain, it looked like there were only a few slopes to choose from. I was disappointed when I saw that the only chairlift had a huge line. Fortunately, the line moved quickly and we were on the lift within ten minutes. When we reached the top of the lift, I realized that it was one of many lifts and gondolas that shuttle skiers and boarders to more than fifteen slopes – some of which were much longer than the slopes I’m accustomed to in North Carolina and West Virginia.
At least 80% of the people on the slopes were snowboarders. As we waited in line, I felt a bit self-conscious. Every single Korean person on at the resort was wearing an expensive ski or snowboard outfit, and the vast majority appeared to have their own snowboards. As we got on the chairlift, I asked Leon to forgive me in advance if I can’t keep up or if I fall on the slopes.
Fortunately, my first impression was dead wrong. As with any other outdoor activity, Koreans often buy the nicest (and most expensive) clothing and equipment, regardless of their skill level. For the rest of the day, I watched hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Burton and Volcom gear sliding backwards down the side of the mountain. By the time we reached the bottom after our first run, I felt like a champion. I wasn’t the best, but I was certainly better than average – despite the fact that I was wearing borrowed/rented skis and clothing.
By the time we finished, we were both sore and tired. In fact, the muscles on the sides of my legs still hurt this morning. It’s a constant, throbbing reminder that I can’t wait to go skiing again! For the low price of 100,000 won (about $95), which includes everything, I can afford to go at least one more time before winter break.
Until next time.