2011.02.20 - Skiing Muju

Snow, Snow and more Snow

First of all let me tell you that the weekdays have been filled with many unexpected situations at work and not much else.

Now that this is clear, let us move on to the weekends.

Last weekend I went skiing with my friend Oscar and my colleagues (and friends) Serhiy, Sergii and Ms. Yang. Ms. Yang had arranged a bus trip for us all to Muju Mountain, 4 hours drive from Ulsan. Oscar and Nalini had arrived to our apartment on Friday and the plan was that while Oscar and myself would get up at 4 in the morning, the girls would sleep in, get a late breakfast before heading out on a busy program of manicure, pedicure, shopping, café visits and the like.

Oscar and Nalini

Nalini was mighty sad that Pao gave her the cold shoulder!

Arrived - after 4 hours driving!

After 4 hours of almost sleep in the bus, we arrived at Muju. We could see from the parking lot alone that we could expect a lot of people. Buses everywhere.... After getting the equipment sorted out we faced the mountain .... and the crowds! It was literally swarming with people. We did a few warm-up rides but ended up 3-40 minute lift queues, so Oscar and I decided to head for the upper slopes on the Muju Express, where there was virtually no waiting time at all. I was all but ready to sit down in the chairlift when I was shooed away! Apparently boarders were not allowed on this part of the mountain. "Very dangerous". Very dangerous for you if you don't let me go on this lift, Sir !

The beginner's slope was pretty busy.

The lift queues were killer

But Oscar showed true Swedish optimism

This was obviously before our first ride (or should I say before our first wait)

Well, this was one battle I couldn't win, so we had to line up for another half hour. It gave me time to grind my teeth and make a plan to change over to skis. We decided to give it one more go though - this time at the upper slopes of the other mountain. It started off with another huge line-up but actually turned out OK at the top. Loads of hikers but not so many skiers. And especially not on the advanced part of the mountain, so we were able to get some good runs and head straight back up the mountain without any queues at all. It was pretty cold up there, so we had to make an extended lunch break for Oscar to regain the feeling in his toes. It suited me fine, as the many runs were tiring me out. After another couple of hours on the board my knee was starting to send funny signals to my brain and I thought it better to call it a day. 3 o'clock and another hour in the sun at the base camp was OK for me. Oscar made one other run - that was all he had time for with the long queues.

The top was cold!

But with considerably less skiers

We didn't take many photos from the top because of the chill. Our fingers froze after a few shots.

There was a s***load of hikers

Can't really blame them as the view was spectacular

Oscar warming up

and me trying to build up a bit more energy

The situation at the base hadn't changed much during the day. Maybe a bit more crowded now !

Waiting for the Sergeis

Poor Ms. Yang almost had a nervous breakdown trying to get all the boys organized for the trip home. The Sergei's got confused and ended up at the wrong mountain base. That meant they had to walk in ski bots for 15-20 minutes to get back to the parking lot and as Ms. Yang was the only Korean speaker in the group, she was the only one who could speak (apologize) to the waiting bus driver ! This was repeated at the rest house on the expressway, when us boys found a basketball game we just HAD to try out ! Boys will be boys !

Monday we were hit by a big snow storm. Ulsan received 25 cm of snow and even Busan turned white. All traffic pretty much came to a stop and Ms. Yang had to spend 4 hours to get home (she lives 6 km. from the Yard!!!). Madness ... but pretty. I am not sure that the Yard thought it was very pretty as it held them up for a couple of days when they were already much behind schedule. This of course led to some very interesting (and frustrating) days at work ...

View from our apartment on Monday

The old foreigners compound in the snow storm

I had wisely decided to walk to work.

Ms. Yang taking photos of the snow. It's very unusual to see so much snow in Ulsan. 4 hours north of Ulsan they had received 1m of snow !

Hyundai Arts center on my way home

It looked pretty at night when it had stopped snowing

Next morning was quite pretty but the temperature was already rising

In one month the cherry trees will blossom and light up this street

View of Magol and Bongdae mountains from our apartment

Wednesday Paula and I spent at our office in Busan. The roads were almost clear again and in the evening we had to pick up Her mother and Jorge in Busan airport. Paula spend the day (and the previous week) a nervous wreck - even more so than if it was herself who had to travel, and it didn't help when she thought that her mother had used up her Chinese visa on a few hours of transit (they would need the visa for their Beijing trip two days later). She was so nervous that she didn't even eat any ice cream at Cold Stone in the Lotte Department store, where we were wasting away a few hours until the plane arrived.

All went well though, and her family arrived without any problems. They were in pretty good shape considering the 34 hours flying time, but then they had also been upgraded from London to Beijing. Why does this never happen to us ??

Pilar and Jorge stayed with us for two nights before heading back to Beijing with Paula to meet up with the two brothers, Hector and Benjamin. They will be spending 5 days in Beijing before flying to Tokyo, then Kyoto and Fukuoka. They left me all alone ... Buuuuh.

This weekend my colleague Bjarne came up to Ulsan for a sports weekend. We played squash, soccer and volleyball until we could hardly walk ! Good fun!

The rest of the day I have either spent on the phone with the Yard or in front of the PC finishing the page for our New Caledonia and Vanuatu trip on this web page. Check it out under Travels.