Friday, January 23, 2009

Seoul, Korea--ski, ski, ski!

We enjoyed being in the city of Seoul, but both Kev and I were excited to go to Yong Pyong ski resort. This resort is about a 2 and half hour bus ride from the city. Since it had been over a year and half since Kevin and I last went skiing, we couldn't wait to get there!

Yong Pyong is a nice ski resort (even if you're a snowboarder), they have a large number of trails for beginner, intermediate, and advanced skiiers. They have a large number of ski lifts, including a gondola that takes you to a peak, called Dragon Peak.

We opted to stay at the resort at the Dragon Valley Hotel. There are several options for sleeping accommodations at Yong Pyong. There are a large number of private condo residences as well as a hostel. The room at the Dragon Valley Hotel wasn't too fancy, but since we would only be spending time sleeping there, we didn't mind.

Yong Pyong likes to boast and call themself an "all-seasons resort." If you don't want to ski, you can certainly spend a day at their indoor water park complete with a breaker pool, water slides, and more. During the warmer season, the resort hosts several golf tournaments.

Here's a view of the ski resort with our hotel.

The above photo is a view of some of the condo residences at the resort.

We had a great three days of skiing at the resort and even managed to put in a nice hike/stroll at the Dragon Peak.

Self taken portrait of Kev and I on the gondola.

The weather at the resort was cold, here's just a sample of exactly how cold. This is in Celcius, but still, this is COLD...

So what do you do to keep warm? Drink beer, of course!

Here are a few photos from our hike/stroll at the peak at Yong Pyong.

After our hike, we had lunch at the restaurant at the Peak. This is "tonkatsu"-Korean style. "Tonkatsu" is pork cutlet.

Here's a poster from a Korean drama "Winter Sonata" that was filmed on location at Yong Pyong.

All in all, we had a great 10 day trip to Korea. I leave you with this last photo of the huge crowds at Yong Pyong. Hope we can go skiing again soon!

If you want to see more photos, don't forget to check out my Facebook page!

Love, Chrissy :)

Seoul, Korea Part ii

As promised, this is a continuation of our trip to Seoul, Korea. While in Korea, we also went to the N. Seoul Tower which is a pretty popular tourist attraction. The tower measures 236.7 m (777 ft) in height (from the base) and tops out at 479.7 m (1,574 ft) above sea level. The tower (similar to towers in other international cities) has several restaurants and observation decks. The top decks charge a small fee.

This above picture is a photo of urinals in the mens' bathroom at the top of the tower. Kevin got a real kick out of being able to "pee" on top of Seoul. I did visit the womens' bathroom, but unfortunately, it just wasn't as exciting.

A night view of the city lights of Seoul.

Once we got to the top of the tower, we noticed all these locks on display. I'm not sure what the significance is of the locks, but I've heard the tower is very popular with couples. I think the belief is that if you place a lock on the tower, your relationship with your significant other is expected to last (be locked in other words) and not be broken. Kinda of a nice thought, don't you think?

This is Namdaemun market. This is one of several outdoor markets in Seoul. You can buy everything here and the prices are real cheap. Always make sure you negotiate!

Due to the fact it was so cold out, I didn't feel much like shopping. I think Kevin may have been glad about that!

We also went to the National Museum of Korea. This museum was built in 2005 and features large exhibitions on Korean archeology, history, anthropology and art. Cool place!

This above photo is a photo Kevin took during a coffee break. I was surrounded by all these hungry pigeons! They wanted a piece of my SoyJoy bar. No, miiiiiiine!

Here are a few photos from inside the museum, the museum had some really interesting architecture.

Following the museum, we headed over to the Noryangjin fish market. I have to tell you, this market has to be one of the largest I've seen!

Look at the size of these shrimp!

Of course, no visit to a fish market would be complete without eating some seafood!

With our bellies full, we headed back downtown to see a musical theatre performance called "Nanta." It's funny, the audience in the theatre was a mix of Koreans, Japanese, Europeans and Americans. No worries if you can't speak Korean, this show did not contain any dialogue. Laughter is universal. The best way I can describe this show is to say: combine the Blue Man group with cooking and you get "Nanta!" I'll leave it at that! We both enjoyed the performance.

After four days in Seoul, it was time for skiing! We took a bus and headed to Yong Pyong ski resort. This is one of the largest and most popular ski resorts in Korea!

More on that in a later post.....


Our Seoul, Korea Trip

Sorry for the delay, but things have been a bit busy this week since Kev and I returned to Okinawa, so it's taken me longer than I expected to get our photos from our 10 day Korea trip onto ye olde blog.

Korea was so much fun. We knew from having a 8 hour layover in Seoul last year, that it was going to be cold, but I think COLD was really an understatement. It was FREEZING. I don't think the weather ever got above 32 degrees the whole time we were in Korea.

Anyway, enough whining, let's get to it....Kevin and I had booked this trip on our own. After visiting the various tour/travel agencies on island as well as on the bases, we figured it would be best for us to create our own trip. The U.S. dollar is very strong against the Korean won right now, so instead of staying at budget hotels, we decided to put up the cash and stay in 5 star hotels.

We flew to Incheon airport in Seoul from Naha on Asiana airlines. The total flight was about 2 and half hours. Upon arriving in Seoul, we took an airport shuttle bus into the city where our hotel was located. Our first hotel was the Sofitel, located in the Myeong Dong district of the city. We decided to stay in this area of Seoul because we wanted to be within walking or subway riding distance to some of the more popular tourist sites. Thankfully, our hotel was just a 5 minute walk to a subway stop. **As a sidenote, I should add that after the ski resort, we spent one last night in Seoul. We stayed in the Gangnam district at the Ritz Carlton (I think I prefer the Gangnam district more as there were more restaurants and shops there.)**

Here's a photo of a billboard we found in the subway. Western fast food chains in Asia including McDonald's, KFC, and Burger King usually customize their menu to meet local tastes. How would you like to try a Honey Potato Burger? Sounds appetizing, no?

On our first full day, we decided to visit one of the many palaces in Seoul, the Gyeonbok Palace (also known as the Gyeongbokgung Palace). This palace was originally built in 1394 by King Taejo. Unfortunately part of the palace was destroyed during the Japanese invasion in 1592. Thankfully, it was restored during the reign of Daewon-gun in 1867 and still stands today for tourists to see. The palace also has two museums on site.

We felt real sorry for the guards they had dressed in Joseon era costumes. This is one job I don't think I'd want. Standing outside in the COLD!?!?! No, thanks.

The palace is quite cool, it's amazing to see the Korean architecture.

We also went to a traditional Korean village where several houses were built from the Joseon era. Looking at the houses, you can sort of imagine what life must have been like for the people living in that time period. Koreans have a underfloor heating system called "ondol" which uses direct heat from a fire to the underside of a masonry floor. Of course, during this time, the only way to heat the floors was to keep a fire burning outside of the house. So one had to run outside and stoke the fire to keep the floors (which were made from stone) heated. The exhaust from the fire is vented to the outside.

These clay pots below are used by Koreans for kimchee and soybean paste. Usually the kimchee and soybean paste is placed into the pots and then buried in the ground to ferment.

Kevin and I had a funny encounter while we were in the Korean village. We were approached by a small crowd of Korean elementary students who wanted to use their English with us. There's nothing like having 10 to 15 Korean kids yelling "Hello!" They were so fascinated by us "fair skin" people, they asked to have a photograph taken with us. Perhaps because we live in Okinawa (where there is a large foreign population) we haven't had this sort of thing happen to us. However, I certainly didn't expect to stick out as much as we did in Korea!

Well, I'll post some more photos from the rest of our trip soon! That's about all I can handle for tonight.



Monday, January 19, 2009

Back from Seoul, Korea

Kev and I have just returned from a 10 day trip to Seoul, Korea. It was a great trip, although it was very COLD! We just got in yesterday so I'll post photos just as soon as I can.

In other news, tomorrow is inauguration day! Time for change, everyone!

Let's wish our new president Obama, all the best.

~Chrissy :)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, welcome to the year of the ox! Kevin and I hope that 2009 is full of much happiness and joy....

Good luck to all of you with New Years' resolutions! I know I'll need it for mine. :)

Love, Chrissy

There's a fine, fine line between together and not.
And there's a fine, fine line between what you wanted and what you got.
You gotta go after the things you want while you're still in your prime...
There's a fine, fine line between love...
And a waste of time.
-From the musical 'Avenue Q'
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