- 31 January 2014
Happy Seollal, Korean Lunar New Year, on Day 10 of our Krazy Korean Adventure. As in other Asian countries, Korean Lunar New year is as important as Christmas in western countries. It's also a long weekend, allowing people to travel to their towns of origin to celebrate and feast with family. That means a couple things, including that the majority of shops are closed for the holiday (no coffee this morning) and it is the busiest day on the roads in Korea.
Daybreak saw the weather come good (maybe a little too good) and I waved good-bye to the quaint village of Sabuk which I had so much enjoyed. This despite being hoodwinked by the lady at the Korean BBQ restaurant where I ate last night who insisted I order the most expensive item on the menu. Oh well, sometimes these things happen and I didn't mind so much as the meal was absolutely delish!
Time to head east to O2 Ski Resort near the small city of Taebaek. Driving over the range I noticed there was a lot of snow higher up and I started to get a little excited at the prospect of riding on this glorious bluebird day. But alas, it was not to be. Once I reached the top of the range and started coming down the other side, the first thing I noticed was the scarcity of snow on the eastern side of the range. When I arrived at the resort, it was extremely quiet, the snow was thin on the ground and there were rocky slopes on some the main ski runs. Not good.
The small crowds could be explained by the Lunar New Year holiday but also perhaps by the lack of snow in this southern location. It was obvious to me that the resort had invested an enormous amount on state of the art European infrastructure by way of new lifts and gondolas. But the main attraction seemed to be the huge casino complex perched at the top of the mountain over looking the ski fields. A casino in the snow? Weird, right? Well, for all intents and purposes it seemed more like a casino operation than a ski field operation. I was a little bummed to say the least. The only redeeming feature was getting here, a spectacular drive in the JEEP through craggy snow capped peaks which punctured the sky at every turn.
My itinerary then took me south west towards the central Korean mountains and the town of Saunbo, a hot springs town located near the ski resort of Sajo. Boy, I had been looking forward to this! The holiday traffic proved as hectic as I expected and I was super ready for a soak in the mineral pools this town is famous for. I arrived into the town, which is nestled in lush pine forests surrounded by babbling streams, to be greeted by a cute little village bustling with holiday makers ready to celebrate the new year with food and a hot spring bath.
Am heading out tonight to see how Koreans party and hoping to join in! Thanks again to Jeep Korea for providing our trusty Cherokee to get us around on our Krazy Korean Adventure. Day 11, what will you bring? See you on the slopes at Sajo tomorrow!