Thursday, February 06, 2003

Well, we've made it through Lunar New Year here in Korea. Amy and I had a decent break off work, we had Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday off. It was nice just to relax and unwind a bit and not have to worry about teaching in the evenings.

Thursday, Amy and I headed out on our scooter for a long drive on our scooter out to the Carrefour, which is kind of like a big French Walmart. We meant to stock up on groceries for the weekend, after multiple warnings that the city will literally shut down over the holiday - which it indeed did. We managed to load up, and must have looked quite the sight doubling back home on the scooter with arm loads of groceries. The poor Red Devil was maxed out, engine screaming at 50 km/hr carrying the two of us and our loot down the highway.

Friday evening, we met up with a group of foreigners and headed out to Concert, one of the larger nightclubs in Ulsan. It was quite impressive, the place was the size of an aircraft hanger, and is run by the Korean mafia. Mr. Kim, our host, was considerably gracious and spent the evening plying us with Western whiskey and beer. We returned the favour by getting raucously drunk. The highlight of the evening was when I was "booked" by a Korean girl. Apparently, you can pay the bouncers to have them escort the girl/guy of your choice to your table. All I knew was all of a sudden I was being pulled to a nearby table and introduced to this waiting girl. I don't think I was worth the money, because I promptly got up and staggered back to our group. Sorry.

Saturday was a write-off, as we were recovering from the night before - having got home at about 5:30 in the morning. Sunday, Amy, Will and I went out on the bi-weekly hash run and whiled away the afternoon by going to see Catch Me If You Can, the Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio flick.

All of this was a big buildup to early Monday morning, when Amy, Will, myself, John, Ali and Rick (more Exxon engineers) and two Korean girls, In-Sook and Mi-ra, departed for Muju resort, a local ski hill.

We drove for a couple hours, past Gyeongju and Daegu, to the resort village in Muju. We rented snowboarding gear and headed up the mountain to check into our hotel room. We hit the slopes at about noon and snowboarded until about 9 o'clock at night. Korean ski hills are moderately difficult, the elevation is minimal and the runs are fairly easy. The most challenging thing is just dodging the chaos of thousands of Koreans on the ski slopes. There doesn't seem to much order to it all, just swarms of fashion-coordinated people everywhere. Much like hiking, the thrill in skiing or snowboarding for Koreans seems to be in coming up with fashionable outfits. Riding down the hill seems to be secondary to standing around and looking cool. Oh, and stopping midway down the slope to answer their mobile phones dangling from their necks.

As night descended, so did the temperature. Incredibly, they sell hot soju to warm you up on the slopes, so most people were three-quarters tanked on the runs. When in Rome...

Our apres-ski consisted of soju, beer and spirits consumed in our hotel room to much silliness.

Will, John, In-Sook and Mi-ra stayed on at the resort for another day of skiing, while Amy, Rick, Ali and I headed home on Tuesday. It was a fun couple of days, and neither of us were looking forward to returning to work.

Pictures will be forthcoming!


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