29 Feb 2012

Road Trip to the East towards SokCho (Korea Part 5)

About the 5th day into our stay in Korea, our dear hosts decided to take us on a road trip. This was a wonderful road trip, driving through the Taebaek mountain range towards the East. Our final destination would be SokCho.  Our first stop was  Daegwallyeong mountain. This is a really beautiful area. It wasn't very crowded while we were there because of the very cold windy day, which is good for us I guess.

There are 2 ways up to the sheep farm, one via a proper pedestrian road, and the other trekking through pine forest. Of course, we chose to trek.

Our kids jumped right into the snow.

And we began trekking. We had no proper trekking boots for snow, unlike the serious trekkers we saw on the way. As a result, Lu tore his boots. I warned my girls to keep on track and not to step into deep snow. Well you think they'd listen? Barely a quarter ways up both my girls  had their feet stuck in deep snow at least once, resulting in very wet socks (and painful toes!)

As usual, our kids ran ahead like pros, worrying our Korean hosts who tried hard to catch up. THey kept saying "Your kids very strong...very tough." 

Jo on the trail

As for me, I felt like I was in heaven. Just taking my own sweet time, breathing in the fresh air, enjoying the beauty surrounding me and listening to classical music which could be heard along the trail. This climb took me back to my childhood days when I used to read of fairies and magic in snow covered pine forests.

Some ways up the trek we came to this farm house.

And here's my child Nel finding her way down the slope, laughing and saying "It's so beautiful mum!" Ah...the beauty of the scene before us....

Saw this photographer photographing the hut
Part of the view from where we were.

Daegwallyeong sheep ranch. We got hay to feed the sheep and Jo spent a lot time at it.

Nel however was more interested in the Sheep Dogs. This particular one loved to play and was a sharp catcher. No matter how Nel threw the stick, the dog would catch it.

 This particular doggie loved Nel I think. For when it came time to leave, this doggie fixed her gaze on Nel, and kept staring and staring till we were out of sight.

hugging some of them..



Seoraksan is known for its Autumn beauty, but since we were in the area, we decided to visit.

 The river is almost dry during the winter season showing off its bare rocks.

 As we trekked up the slippery path, we just had to...have a snowball fight. Oh yeah, my girls hit me hard with em balls, and I did em too. haha.. :)

 At the top are these rocky formations. Here's where I got lazy while Nel decided to keep climbing.
Jo checking out the river and got her white pants covered in red mud! :)
on a cable car ride up

To end it all, of course we had some really delicous Korean ice cream. :)   The next part of the trip would be skiing and some really good seafood in SokCho.

Fish Market (Korea, Part 4)

While in Incheon we visited several markets. One of the most memorable was the fish market which sold a large variety of life seafood, so fresh that they let you try them raw! And so I took my Korean friend's challenge and tried some things raw while the kid went oohing and aahing as if in a large marine biology class.

We were fascinated by the wide variety of seafood available. Most of all it was exciting coz almost all seafood found here was alive and fresh. We nearly got sprayed by a life octopus, and ate one live too!!! Felt the tentacles sticking on the mouth palette as we downed one.

Lots of fermented shrimp and crabs. Tried some raw, fermented crabs too. Interesting taste.

Seagulls at the market

Feeding the seagulls the silkworms we bought to try. We ate only one silkworm each (and I promised Nel some money for this!) and fed the rest to the gulls. :)
Incheon Park is where the kids spent hours and hours playing with their cousins and new found Korean friends.

A huge whale in the park!

Beautiful 3D Mosaic on various walls in the park. When I viewed this, I was reminded of the lovely mosaic art by Prof Chan in  Turtle Alley.

Sports on ice/snow. (Korea Part 2)

Incheon Grand Park - Sledding

This was very exciting for our kids. We walked quite a distance to get to the sleds as the drivers of shuttle buses were on a lunch break.

.Came across this lake which was out of bounds in order to protect migratory birds.

Notice how my kids managed to get into the "out of bounds" area? Don't blame me, we didn't understand the Korean signage till we were told later. haha..

First things first....Snow angel. Dang, my kids have waited a life time to do this, and so they did. :)

And down this slope they went over and over and over and over again.

Can you tell it's lunch time? coz this is me going down that whooeeee fast slippery slope (for adults) almost all by myself! Yee hawww!

Lo takin a tumble while trying to snow board. The guards came running shouting "Hajima! Hajima!" (Stop it, stop it). Of course, they didn't understand (while I pretended to be dumb tourists) and so the guards gave up and left us leaving the kids to snowboard, slide on tummies, backwards forwards to their heart's content.

A walk back as the sun set. Almost a whole day at the park!

Sliding on Ice....somewhere during our road trip to the east.

We stopped by this little icy playground where the kids got to slide on these boards on blades for free.

Here they've tied a few boards together to form a train. Laughter and screams filled the air and my heart. :)

We went skiing on a Monday, but the crowd was still huge! It took a while for the girls to get accustomed to walking in their ski boot and carrying heavy skis!

 Jo carrying her skiis after coming down once.

 Nel with our friend who volunteered to teach us for free (and she also got us more than 50% discounts on almost all fee and rental!)

 Here Nel coming down on her own

 I skiied down this slope!  As I was halfway up in the lift, the instructor told me that the beginner's slope was closed and I was on the way up to the intermediate slope. *gulp*. And so I found myself skiing down this.

 Kiddos on a cable car ride up.

And after we had a really really good meal and this restaurant. Highly recommended!

Kiddos got very excited with these icicles.
Finally for Nel

There was something wrong with your skiis. After a few skis on the beginner slope we decided to head towards the higher one. At that point the instructor tried to put on your skis but they refused to fit somehow. I tried too but it wouldn't click. So you decided to turn back on your own and go look for grandma. We were worried coz there were hundreds of people in that ski area. The instructor said it was dangerous too and you might get lost... but you went, and I decided to trust you.

After I'd finished skiing some nearly 1 hour later I went looking for you. I headed towards Popeyes and found grandma and Jo but you were not there. I asked "Have you seen Nel?" and the answer was "No, she never came here."

Panic filled my heart...I took off my ski boots and wanted to run out there in my socks to look for you. AhMa was kind to lend me her shoes. So I put them on and went running around like a mad woman looking for my precious child. I went into all the marts and restaurants and rest areas and didn't find you. I looked everywhere, searching for a striking pink jacket, none in sight. Never had such fear filled my heart. 

As I shouted "Nel...Nel..." I prayed hard. After continuous searching for about 20 minutes, I spotted a pink jacket some distance away, and I found you trying to put on your skis. I hugged you and I cried. but you answered so calmly "Why are you crying mum? I was just here looking at the rabbits and chickens in the little play area." I replied "coz I don't ever want to loose you and I love you."

You told me how you couldn't find grandma and after giving up searching you decided to try and ski on your own knowing I'd find you somehow. One day soon we'll try skiing again Nel, this time, you're sticking with me ok.:)

                                                                                                               Love you, 

Cultural Village (Korea Part 3)

We visited several cultural villages during our trip. Here's just a very brief summary of such places we visited. 

First was Korean Folk Village. Let's start by saying it was a very very cold and windy day when we visited and despite that the girls enjoyed themselves tremendously.

A whole bunch of kids (ours included) jumped on for a ride at the village.

For us, the highlight was watching traditional dances such as the Farmer's dance (Pungmul) where they move their heads in unison to swing that ribbon on the hat to form  different patterns. I'd get really dizzy if I had to dance that dance.

Here's 2 short videos of Pungmul/Nongak.


Tight Rope walking, Jultagi. Jo was just awed by this tight rope walker. I was too. He did all sorts of stunts, including hopping on one leg, walking backwards, etc. His performance is accompanied by music, and he stops every now and then to tell jokes and stories.  Here' Jo who was actually imitating him, walking a step at a time as the old man did.
A short video of Jultagi.


A part of the village here contains props that resemble the ones we saw on a Korean drama while we were at our friend's house. Here's Nel and her AhMa (grandma) pretending to be a part of a drama where she is tied and whipped for  something. hahaha
Jo and cousin enjoying this stunt show which demonstrated how skillful warrior were at horses. They stood on horses, shot arrows at boards from horses, hid behind their horses etc. Amazing skill!

A short video of stunt.

In blue and white, my 9+ year old child, almost as tall as her grandma. Here she's just keeping her AhMa warm from the biting wind.

2) We headed towards Seoul by subway and visited the Gyeongbokgung Palace. It's easy to get there as the subway takes you right there. The place is really huge and so we opted for an English tour. It was a little difficult understanding our tour guide's English accent but we managed to pick up some things. What my kids liked most about the place?? Haha...unbelievable but not long into the tour when they got fed up of trying to understand our tour guide, they started forming a secret group with their cousins. And so together they became a secret society using the palace grounds and walls to hide from "enemies."

Nel looking at the map before start.

The queen's palace. Notice the beautiful hexagon shaped chimneys.

Nel enjoying the architecture and taking shots with her camera.

Jo and cousin, pretending that an oncoming tourist on other side of wall was an approaching enemy. You should've seen how they ran from her later. She must've wondered "what the heck?"*grin*

Girls in awe as they watched the Changing of Guards 

They said it's beautiful here in summer with lotus and flowers. Well...everywhere we went, we saw frozen water and bald trees.

One of the many sculptures here depicting real and mythical creatures

Very intricate designs within the palace buildings

When we finished our visit to Gyeongbokgung,  we simply headed to Insadon which is really closeby for some shopping. It's a really lovely street with lotsa art and Korean craft for sale.


3) Namsangol Hanok Village

This visit was mainly to meet with close friends who lived in Seoul. Our dear friends took us to Hanok VillageNamdaemun Market  and Seoul Tower.

The kids loved Hanok Village because they got to try various Korean traditional games, and learn a bit about traditional houses. An interesting feature is how the Koreans heat up their flooring.

Here's Jo about to check out the wishing well.

The kids tried several games such as rolling a metal hoop, throwing sticks into a jar and spinning tops. Here's a short video of a man spinning a top by whipping it with a short piece of cloth.

After Hanok, our friends in Seoul took us on a short bus trip to the Seoul Tower.

Locks symbolizing everlasting Love decorated the area surrounding the Seoul Tower

On the invitation of close friends in Seoul, we ended up staying a night in Seoul and visited the very huge church (Full Gospel, formerly headed by Cho YonGi). Before church we took a walk by the Han River and also the children worked out here for a while before heading to church.

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