Friday, 21 February 2014

I was so excited to see the ski resort while we were walking to the Ocean 700 water theme park. It's beautiful, isn't it?

It was New Year today, also another exciting day. It would be a day full of water and ski fun at the Alpensia Resort, which is the venue for 2018 Winter Olympic in South Korea. I enjoy in-depth travelling where I get to experience some of the native’s daily activities in addition to sight-seeing and learning about their culture.

We checked out the Class 300 hotel early in the morning after breakfast for our next destination in PyeongChang, Gangwon-do. The tour guide arranged us to drop by the shop half way to get our ski clothes, gloves and goggles prior arriving at Alpensia Resort. There were not included in the tour package and it cost about 50,000 won for ski jacket and salopette rental, 10,000 won for goggles rental and 15,000 won for buying a pair of waterproof skiing gloves. I learnt that the Alpensia ski resort also offered gear rental at a slightly cheaper rate. Of course, I believe the tour agent has their reasons to engage this shop for the rental, which we found out later.

I was extremely excited wearing the ski clothes on the bus moving to the ski resort. It is like a thick wind breaker keeping me warm. I couldn’t help not to jump out of the bus when we finally arrived at the resort at roughly 10.20am. It was so chilly at the resort; I quickly picked up my luggage and practically ran to the hotel lobby. I brought a big bag filled with my swim gear, toiletries, hair dryer, skin care, towel and slippers to the Ocean 700 water theme park. Hmm… did I miss anything? Guess not!

This is the snapshot I got from Alpensia official website. See the red circle in the picture? It's part of the lazy pool extended to exterior zone where I experienced snowing for the first time in life. *nice*

We walked to the water theme park that’s a stone’s throw away from the hotel. We were each given an entrance ticket with a number for our locker. As we entered to the water theme park, we were told to take off our shoes and place them in the locker. After grabbing the universal key from the shoes locker, I headed to the ladies’ room where I soon found out I’m a dumb to bring a big bag of things, which they basically have most of them available here. As I walked into the ladies’ room, which is the ground floor, there was a stretch of dressing tables full with hair dryer, skin care, hair styling products and combs. That’s very thoughtful and convenient for the visitors, don’t you agree? After passing through the powder room, there was another locker room for your belongings. I was warned earlier to not over-react for seeing what I saw here, nothing on everyone. So, I had to follow the custom and acted cool with it. After changing the swim suit, I walked happily to the indoor swimming pool, which was at the lower ground floor. There were heater and multiple heated pools here so I didn’t feel cold much even it was in winter. The indoor pools include lazy pool, wave pool, aqua pool or hot pool, slides, aqua play pool and kids pool (both for kids). The lazy pool allowed us to float on a tube that was provided free of charge and it connected to the exterior zone, which I saw snow falling on my head while the rest of my body was soaking in the warm water. It was a fantastic experience and I wish I could have some champagne in the pool to celebrate this great moment! Somehow, the outdoor pool was closed in winter. I guess no one would want to soak in cold water under snow in the winter, right? Not forgetting, the entrance fee did not include the life jacket rental, which cost 4,000 won each, which was a must. Next, we went to try out the crazily exciting slides, which include tornado, camelback slide, tube slide and body slide. We managed to get 2 tour members to join us for the 60m long tornado; the slide was crazy and frightening! As we were released for the tornado ride sitting on a 4-person tube facing each other, the tube went down the tunnel so quickly, it was slightly dark but I could see and feel the tube sliding to left and right while it was moving down. As it slid to the side, it could go as high as 10ft or more from the ground level, I felt like I was going to fall looking down to the bottom of the tunnel. I shouted continuously and madly while closing my eyes most of the time throughout the ride. It was a huge effort to tell myself to open my eyes to see what was going on! LOL It was a great relief to finally see the light near the end of the tunnel. *phew* I survived and would dare you to try this! LOL Then, we moved on to the camelback slide, which I had to sit in the front for being short and probably lighter (good or bad?). After the most terrifying tornado ride, I managed to ride through the camelback easily; still I enjoyed shouting madly in the tunnel, just for fun. *grin* After having all the fun in the indoor pool, I went ahead for sharing hot bath or wet sauna in third floor, but before that, I had to take a shower in the lower ground and dried up my swim suit. There were clean bath towels provided for us, but it was more like a hand towel to me. It was my first time going nothing though it is a norm here; I just had to grab one to cover myself even it was just part of it, actually it was just the front. LOL First time is always an exciting yet nervous experience. As I walked into the sharing hot bath, I tried not to draw much attention by walking slowly and calmly. Unfortunately, I tripped while walking into the hot bath, so it ended up the rest stared at me. Oh my! Anyway, the water theme park was an incredible experience that one shouldn’t miss in South Korea. However, we were so rushed and didn't manage to take any pictures in Ocean 700.

It was about 1.15pm by the time we left the Ocean 700 for lunch. I was so hungry and eagerly needed to fill up my growling stomach. It seemed they had arranged another great warm meal for us. Hot stew pork and squid, grilled fish that looked like eel and assorted banchan or side dishes, they looked so delicious! I like the hot stew pork and squid; it’s not unusual to have little or no seasoning in Korean food. In fact, stewing the pork with squid makes the pork much tastier. The grilled fish was a little too dry and chewy, doesn’t taste like eel at all even though it looks like one. It turned out to be my least favourite dish so far.

Hot stew pork and squid. *yummy*

Grilled fish 

As we were walking out the restaurant happily and satisfyingly, it started to snow! We were so lucky to be able to experience snowing (second time on the same day) and I know trying to catch the snow would make me look a little funny (or stupid?) but who cares? I was enjoying every moment here. *wink*

After all the joy and laugh, we took the bus back to Alpensia Resort for the best part of the tour, skiing. One of the good things about signing up this tour was that we got our very own ski trainer cum tour guide free of charge. Skiing was really fun yet tiring. Although the weather was so cold, I still sweated quite a bit after skiing for a while. The hardest part of skiing is maintaining the lean forward posture while trying stay calm and not afraid of the speed. I was really bad in keeping away my fear of speed, I fell down numerous times and getting up was another hard thing to do. After multiple attempts, I still couldn’t get up with the ski on so I had to take it off every time I fell and wore it back again. Luckily the snow was soft; falling on it was actually nice and did not hurt. We spent about 1.5 hours skiing before they closed at 4.30pm for 2-hour snow grooming. 

The panorama of the Alpensia Resort. We spent a night at the 5-star Holiday-Inn Resort, which is on the left. The building on the right is the entrance to the ski resort. 

We had a private training session with our tour guide who is also a qualified ski trainer. 

Finally, I could ski... just a little. 

We checked in a spacious room at the 5-star Holiday-Inn Resort that is just next to the ski resort. We had to change the first room for the broken door lock. Although they tried their best to provide a friendly and fast service, I was a little disappointed with their QA check after the house keeping as not only the door lock was faulty; the complimentary mineral water bottle was half empty too. @.@

Anyway, let’s not wasting much time in the room, there was so much to explore in the Alpensia Resort. Apparently, there were a few shops in the ski resort that still open for business, so I wanted to grab something light and chill out before dinner at 7pm. It was a shame to leave our DSLR in the bus so we could only use the smart phone for photos.

Beautiful view in winter at the Alpensia Resort. There are a few shops available near the ski resort, which is on the top right in the photo.

The Holiday-Inn resort front view from my balcony.

It's another spacious and comfortable family suite at the Holiday-Inn resort. 

I realised I haven’t been having any caffeine fix in South Korea, I mean really good coffee, so we went to the Angel-in-us Coffee with motto of the world best coffee. That sounded tempting. As we planned for skiing after the dinner, I thought a cheese cake and a cappuccino would be a good idea to keep me awake. I was quite disappointed looking at the cappuccino the barista made for me, the taste was awful. Seriously, I don’t agree with the motto, but worth a try even though it wasn’t really a good boost.

The interior of the Angel-in-us Coffee house near the ski resort. 

The device vibrated when my order was ready.

The cheese cake was too sweet to my liking. 

Detergent foam on the not so good cappuccino. 

We wandered around and took some pictures with our smart phones to kill some of our time before headed for dinner off site. Braised herbal country chicken was truly a good choice for dinner. It kept my body warm and I literally needed to have more liquid after the outdoor activity. We were given plenty of time to enjoy the dinner, but everyone was rushing to finish the delightful dinner to continue skiing at night before the ski resort closed at 10pm.

A pot of braised herbal country chicken that was more than enough for four of us, two were our tour members.

I sort of understand why the tour guide was amazed with our bravery and desire to ski at night soon after spending about 10 minutes skiing after dinner. It was extremely windy at night and I think I spent half of the time trying to stand still when the wind blew coupled with snow, which hit directly on my face and made me difficult to breathe. It was quite tricky for a beginner like me to ski under this circumstance, but I learnt that standing with the back facing where the wind comes from helps. Also, it was very cold and I had to wear 3-layer top to keep me warm and not falling sick. As the temperature dropped at night, the surface became icy and falling on it wasn’t nice at all. *ouch* I got a big bruise on my thigh. Still, I think we enjoyed the night very much with so much laughter even though it wasn’t easy to laugh out loud. LOL
At 10.30pm, the shop owners came to collect the rented ski clothes and goggles from us at the hotel lobby. I guess that was why we rented from them at the first place; we paid for their service and day & night rental. That was fair.

After the long day, we still wanted to go out for more photos but this time it was with our DSLR. Apparently, the photos came out to be much better. It was about 11.30pm by the time we went back to the hotel for shower and zzz.

Happily posing in front of the Holiday-Inn resort at the Alpensia. 

The night view at the ski resort was amazing.

It was an exciting and fun-filled day, a brand new experience in New Year, wasn’t it? Share with us your thought and stay tune for the subsequent destinations. Seoul next.

p/s: You may refer more of our spending here


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