I would consider this day to be the climax of our Korean trip as today is the day we will be seeing natural snow for the first time. We planned to head out to the Ski Resort today, as with the day before, we planned to visit the ski resort on a weekday so that we will not be bumping into too large a crowd at the ski resort. I was hoping to see snow at the ski resort, after all, it is the middle of winter and the past four days in Seoul we were rather disappointed that it did not snow at all. Talking about the ski resort, there are several ski resorts in Korea. There are several ski resorts located nearby Seoul, whilst some others are further into other nearby provinces. We chose to visit High1 Ski Resort partly because this resort was designated to host the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in Seoul. The other reason for our choice to visit here is the opportunity to ride the gondola up to the peak of the Baekwoon Mountain standing some 680m above sea level, where we thought we might catch some great views of the surrounding mountains.
High1 Ski Resort
Getting to High1 Ski Resort
High1 Ski Resort is located in Jeongseon, Gangwon-do, about 170km southeast of Seoul. There are several options of getting to the resort, we opted to take the interstate train as I thought it would be an experience to ride on the Korean railway system. Getting the train tickets is a breeze with the ability to allow passengers to book their tickets one month in advance on the Korail website. We booked our return tickets online from Seoul to Gohan which is the nearest train station to the resort, opting for the first-class train travel (the price difference between first-class and standard class is a mere ₩2,000 each way). The train departs from Cheongnyangni Station (and not Seoul Station). We took the subway to Cheongnyangni Station and got our tickets from the ticketing counter by showing the print out of our booking.
Up these stairs is where Cheongnyangni Station is located
Ticketing counter at Cheongnyangni Station
Our train tickets to Gohan Station
Outside Cheongnyangni Station
Murphy’s Law in Action
As we did not have breakfast after leaving the hotel for the train station, we thought since we still have around 15 mins before the train departs, we will have sufficient time to pack breakfast and have it on the train. This is just the beginning of what will go wrong will go wrong! We headed for the local fast food joint (it is the only one that opens at 9 am). After ordering our takeaway, we were told that we would need to wait for around 5 mins for our food to be ready. Since we have 15 mins to spare, 5 mins would be within our tolerant and we went ahead with the order. However, it took them 10 mins to prepare our breakfast. Seeing what little time we had left, we dashed the train platform. Without reading the sign properly, we headed towards what pointed out to be Korail platform. By the time we reach the platform, we sensed something is not right as it seems that the platform is meant for the subway. We asked a local and he kindly pointed the right platform for us. By the time we reached the platform, we were already 3 mins late and the train had departed. Our only option at this point is to go back to the ticketing counter and check the next train departure timing. We were told by the staff that the next train would leave Cheongnyangni Station for Gohan Station at around noontime, which means we will only reach the resort at 3 pm. Our return ticket is booked for at around 5 pm, which means we wouldn’t have much time to have fun in the snow. Waiting for the next train is not an option for us, hence I checked with the staff if there are any other ways to get to Gohan area. We were delighted to learn that we could take a bus from DongSeoul Bus Terminal and it would take us around 2.5 hours to reach there. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that the train company would refund our missed train fare (less some administrative charges). After getting our refund, we headed to the subway and made our way to DongSeoul Bus Terminal.
We got our breakfast here and was late for our train
On our way to DongSeoul Bus Terminal
DongSeoul Bus Terminal is located next to Gangbyeong subway station, which is just a few stops from Cheongnyangni station. We arrived at the Bus terminal and quickly got our bus tickets to Gohan (costs us ₩14,500 each for the one way trip). Since there is some time to kill, we found a place and finished breakfast we just bought awhile ago. We arrived at the bus bay for our ride to Gohan 15 mins before the scheduled departure to prevent missing the bus. The bus departed on schedule to Gohan. Around 1.5 hours into our ride, the bus pulled into an area for a pit stop, unlike the bus we took the previous day (operated by a different company), there was no announcement how long the pit stop will be. We got down the bus to buy some drinks and at the same pit stop, we got ourselves some ear muffs. By the time we returned to where the bus parked, the bus was not there. At this time we realised that the bus had left without us! Wow twice within one morning things had turned south for us. At this point we were thinking about what to do, there isn’t a bus stop and we are in the middle of nowhere. To make things worst, we do not even speak Korean to even hitch a ride from others. After some time, we approached a couple of Korean ladies and told them our bus had ditched us. They do not seem to understand what we are talking about, but somehow know we were lost! The ladies pointed us to an information booth, where we seek help.
Our bus to Gohan in DongSeould Bus Terminal
Heading to Gohan on a bus
Heading to Gohan on a bus
Heading to Gohan on a bus
Pit stop! This is where the bus ditched us
We went around taking pictures of the pit stop while waiting for our bus to come and pick us up
Seem like frosting on the ground. It is very cold at the pit stop
At the booth, we explained to the staff about our situation and showed her our bus ticket. With her limited knowledge of English, we surfed the web to get the number of the bus company. The staff managed to call the bus company, luckily the guy at the other end spoke good English and told us they will arrange for another bus to come and fetch us in 30 to 45 mins time. We waited patiently and dare not move from the booth. Peeking out of the windows occasionally to see if the bus has arrived. Around one hour later, two buses called into the pit stop and both drivers came up to the booth to fetch us. Soon we found ourselves on our way to Gohan. Another 1 hour has passed and the bus called into a bus terminal. From our Google map (which I kept it on ever since our first bus ditched us), I know we were supposed to alight at this bus terminal. To play safe, we asked a fellow passenger who confirmed we were at Gohan. From here we took a 5 min cab ride to reach High1 Ski Resort. What an eventful day!
Continuing our journey to Gohan
High1 Ski Resort
As there are multiple alighting points at the resort, we told the cabby to drop us at the Valley Condominium. On our way to the resort from the bus terminal, we were expecting the scenery to change from greenery to pure white, however no such luck. At the point of our alighting, we still did not sight any snow. I was a little disappointed that it was not snowing. At the Valley Condominium area, there is an information counter where we enquired more about where to sledge. Since we only planned for a day trip, we did not have much time to learn to ski, plus the little adventure of missing the train and bus ditching us, took up a fair bit of time. After we got the information from the counter, we headed outdoors. This is the first time we see snow! We soon went back in and took a complimentary gondola to Mountain Condominium. The ride up the Mountain Condominium took around 10 mins. The 10 mins gondola ride we saw ski slopes and snow! Although we knew these are artificial snow, we can’t help but feel excited about playing in the snow. Arriving at Mountain Condominium stop, we got off the gondola and headed to a cafeteria for lunch. The cafeteria serves very simple and limited food. We opted for the Korean food and had our lunch facing the snow scenery outside the building.
We finally arrive at High1 Ski Resort
The gondola that took us up to Mountain Condominium
Making our way to Mountain Condominium in a gondola
Ski slopes spotted
View of the ski slope in the gondola
View from gondola
After lunch, we headed outside to walk around the snow (yes we know this is artificial snow, coming from the tropics, the snow still excites us). Speaking about the snow, it isn’t as soft and fluffy as we had expected and felt hard and slippery. We originally planned to get on a gondola and head towards the Mountain Top station and perhaps even across the valley. When we enquired about the gondola, we were informed that it was closed. We felt a little disappointed that we did not get to go to the top of the mountain.
My friend at the snow grounds at Mountain Condominium
We did not want to let the events of the day disappoint us and went sledging instead. Coming from the tropics, we had zero knowledge of skiing, plus the little time that we had left at the ski resort, sledging was about the only other thing we can do. After paying for our sledging, we headed towards a hut to collect a rubber tube, that will be used for sledging. At first, there was quite a crowd sledging. As we went for more rounds on the sledge, the crowd thins out. After a while, the crowd dissipated that we did not even have to wait for our turn to sledge down the slope. For my first run on the sledge down the slope, I bumped into the rubbery safety barrier that was put up by the resort, as I did not know how to slow down. The staff did not even help to slow me down. After crushing onto the barrier, no help was offered to get me up. However, after a few runs, I learnt to control the speed and slow down eventually to prevent crushing onto the barrier. We must have done the sledging for more than 10 times. Before long, we were told they are closed for the day. After returning our rubber tube sledges, we went around the area to take pictures of the surroundings. The view at the base of the ski slopes in the evening was stunting. Snow blanketing what would be grassland in spring and summer, with the colours that the sunset effect has painted the sky, coupled with no crowds, the surrounding just felt peaceful. We spotted some ice sculptures in the area and headed to take pictures with it. Other than walking on the snow and taking pictures, there is practically nothing much we can do around here at this time when all the actions cease to operate. Looking at the time, it is almost time for us to head back to the train station and catch our train back to Seoul.
Getting ready to sledge for the first time
We had to pull the rubber tube sledge back to the start point. Fortunately, there is a makeshift travellator.
View of the sledge slope
Getting ready for round 2 of sledging
Sledging is fun
Selfie at the snow area
Panoramic shot of the ski grounds
Me at the ski grounds
View of the ski grounds
Wefie at the ski grounds
Selfie at the ski grounds
An ice owl sculpture
Me with the owl ice sculpture
Snow snow everywhere
This place would be beautiful when covered with snow
The gondola that brought us up to the Mountain Condominium
My friend with the ice sculpture
The sledge slope from the gondola
View of the ski grounds from the gondola
Wefie in the gondola
Taking the gondola back to Valley Condominium where we boarded the shuttle to Gohan train station
View of the ski slope from the gondola
View from the gondola
View of one of the ski slopes in High1 Ski Resort
View of one of the ski slopes in High1 Ski Resort
Valley Condominium at night
Waiting for the shuttle to Gohan station at Valley Condominium
Travelling Back to Seoul
The Ski Resort provides regular complimentary shuttle service to and from Gohan train station. Gohan station is situated on top of a slope and a 2 min walk from the place the shuttle service dropped us. The train station looked deserted when we arrive. We approached the ticketing counter to confirm that we were at the right place and were informed that the train will be calling in on platform 2. We did not want to miss the train again, hence we waited at the waiting room for the train despite being 30 mins early. Soon the train pulled into the station and we were surprised that there are not many people travelling in First Class. The seats in the first-class car were large and comfortable, perfect for a good nap on our 3-hour ride back to Seoul.
Goan train station
Waiting for our train at Gohan station
Our train pulling into the station
Our ride is here
View of the First Class cabin onboard. There isn’t many people travel in this class
Selfie in a first-class cabin onboard the train
About 1 hour into the ride, an announcement came on to the PA informing passengers of a cafeteria in car number 4. Curious, I went to car number 4 to take a look. As I pass through two other standard class cabins (the seats here are slightly narrower than first-class), instead of seeing a car full of sets, a rather empty cabin greets me. At one side of the cabin, there appear to be four private rooms. As I peek into these rooms, I realise these are karaoke rooms, some configured with two seats and one with one huge seat. I thought this is rather refreshing, to have karaoke rooms on the train! In the centre of the cabin is a counter, selling snacks and drinks. I ordered some snacks and the staff even heated up for me. There are also vending machines onboard located in the cafeteria cabin. Further down the cabin is a row of seats facing the window with a long table for passengers to snack on while watching the changing scenery outside the train. After getting my snacks, I headed back to my seat for the rest of the journey.
Heading to the cafeteria car
These rooms painted in red and yellow are the karaoke rooms in car number 4
Peeking into the karaoke rooms onboard the train
Vending machine in car number 4
This is what I got from the snack bar
Back to my cabin
The walnut sponge cakes are delicious
Back to Myeongdong for Dinner
When we reached Seoul we were famished, we headed to Myeongdong to hunt for dinner. As it was close to 11 pm, most of the restaurants were closed or about to close. Myeongdong at this hour seems peaceful, without the crowds. It felt as if the whole area went to sleep. As we were walking, part shopping (some shops are still opened), part hunting for food, we chanced upon a restaurant that serves teppanyaki-style hot plate chicken. We ordered a portion for two and the food did not disappoint. After dinner, we hailed a cab and headed back to the hotel to rest for the night.