Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Slopes, Subs & Sand

Because I was not cold enough, we decided that skiing would be a great idea. Lucky for me, Eric's neighbor Stan is an avid skier and lent me all of his equipment. Sweet. We got up around 5 am in order to avoid Seoul traffic. I think we did. The NQR moment of the day was when I stopped in McDonald's to get breakfast. I successfully ordered for Eric and me, but for some reason they gave me four orange juices. Have no idea why. It took us a little over two hours to get to Yongpyong - in the northeastern part of Korea. The larger area is attempting to get the 2014 Olympics. Best of luck. We got to the place okay, but had a little trouble getting to the slopes - when we went to rent equipment we realized that everything was in the metric system - like meters instead of feet. oops. We sort of guessed our height and weight. It was also a bit crowded as well. Once we got outside, we realized how cold it was - 9 degrees, which doesn't include the windchill. ouch. The Yongpyong ski "resort" is only about a dozen trails on a good day, and this was not a good day. We had access to about three trails beyond the bunny slopes. The conditions reminded me of my youth in Vermont - it was more like a ice skating rink then a ski slope covered with snow. One patch was literally solid ice. good times. Regardless, we still had a great time - frostbite can be fun. We caledl the ski day a little early and went for some post-ski relief. We found it. The combination of a 5 am wake up call and Korean beer made it an early night. The next day we headed for the coast and the Sea of Japan or the East Sea as the Koreans call it. We stopped at Unification Park which has an old Navy Destroyer as well as a North Korean submarine that ran aground at this site in 1996. After seeing the Korean drivers for a few days, I am not that surprised that it ran aground. The inside was a wee bit tiny for us. In theory 25 Koreans can fit inside. Now that is a tight fit. Due to a hostile government a few miles away, the South Koreans take security seriously and they don't have a lot of "beach front" property. The rocks are to identify spots were the North Koreans attempt to mess with the fence. If they fall out, the guards know that someone was messing with it. Not sure what happens then. We made it to the beach and went to Sandglass Park. The park includes a giant Sandglass, duh. It was built in 1999 in commemoration of the new millennium. It is sponsored by Samsung. It takes a full year for the sand to fall through and at midnight on January 1st, it is overturned to start the new year. Forget Times Square - I am going to the Sandglass next year. Eric referred it as the Korean equivalent of the "Biggest Ball of Yarn".

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