Showing posts with label Winter Olympics 2018. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Winter Olympics 2018. Show all posts

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Autumn in Gangwon

As we bid farewell to the summer heat, it is time to usher in the fall season. The first thing that came to my mind was autumn foliage. Temperatures during the fall month average around 10-20 degrees Celsius, which make it the most ideal season to travel. Fall foliage begins in late September in the colder regions of Gangwon-do province and creeps down to the warmer Southern regions. Dates for peak fall colours vary, but the 16 national mountain parks around the country boasts the best fall foliage views. The forecast for the first foliage and peak foliage at popular national parks are shown below. 
(credits: Kweather)

AUTUMN AT NAMI ISLAND
Our first autumn experience was in Japan; standing at the top of Kiyomizu-dera overlooking the autumn foliage was simply amazing. Last autumn, we did a self-drive trip in Jeju before continuing the rest of our journey in Seoul. Needless to say, I have to head to one of my fave places in Korea - Nami Island - for the autumn foliage. 
It was almost mid day when we arrived and check out the crowd waiting to board the ferry from Nami back to the main island! If you are paying a visit during this period, be sure to allow at least 1h of waiting time in the queue. 
The well-wishes "tunnel" whereby you can write your wishes on a leaf-shaped memo and tie it to the metal railings. As Nami is engulfed with a romantic atmosphere, we do see a lot of memos seeking and praying for love :) 
A cute little squirrel fussing over his seed cone.   
Nami island's winter scenary was already made famous by Winter Sonata, but the fall scenery also makes a strong impression thanks to the scarlet maple trees. We got to enjoy the crimson foliage of autumn, as we strolled along the walking trails over the island. 
Nami Island
Address: 1 Namiseon-gil, Namsan-myeon, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do
Tel: +82 31 580 8114
AUTUMN AT SEORAKSAN NATIONAL PARK
(credits: Korea Tourism Organisation)

Seoraksan is the most iconic mountain of Gangwon-do and stretches through three countries of the province. Every fall, it is one of the first mountains in Korea to be coloured with autumn foliage, with mid-October being the best time to view this splendid scenery. Visitors can view the beautiful temples hidden within the mountain, most notably Baekdamsa and Sinheungsa or reach the Gwongeumseong Fortress by taking the cable car, where the East Sea can be viewed from above. You can also soak in the carbonated and alkaline hot springs, located at the end of Jujeongol Valley on Hangyeryeong Pass. 
Seoraksan Mountain
833 Seoraksan-ro, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do
AUTUMN AT GANGCHON RAILPARK
If you are a fan of Running Man, this railway park would not be a stranger to you since it made its appearance in ep 144. Gangchon railway bike is near to Nami island and this 6km Gangchon Rail Bike experience, starting from Gimyujeong Station lets you soak in the stunning landscapes and picturesque sights of the island. 
We cycled down on an abandoned railway, which Mugunghwa train used to travel for a span of 70 years. We passed by the enchanting Bukhangang river, which stretches for 318km! The cool breeze made it easier for us to peddle down the track and it was a great workout! 
There is a resting spot at the halfway mark and we got some snacks for refueling before continuing the rest of the journey. Once we reached the finishing point, we got to rest our tired calves as we hop onto the free shuttle bus back to the station. Thankfully we don't have to ride the railway bike back! 
Gangchon Railway Bike
Address: 1383 Gimyujeong-ro, Sindong-myeon, Chuncheon, Gangwon-do, South Korea
AUTUMN FESTIVALS IN GANGWON
Gangneung Coffee Festival (강릉 커피축제)
There are a couple of festivals in Gangwon to take part, such as the Gangneung Coffee Festival, taking place from 6th Oct till 9th Oct in Gangneung, the city of coffee. The festival celebrates not only the coffee culture in the city but also, the city's past and present culture with a variety of coffee-related events. Visitors can get to enjoy barista performance and also, get to sample a wide range of coffee. Coffee lovers can also take the opportunity to visit Anmok Coffee Street, a 500m long coastal road lined with cafes. Here, visitors can relax with a cup of coffee while taking in the gorgeous sea views. 
Gangneung Anmok Beach Coffee Street
Address: 17 Changhae-ro, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
Jeongseon Arirang Festival (정선아리랑제)
(credits: Korea Tourism Organisation)

Jeongseon Arirang Festival is held annually in October in an effort to preserve and develop "Jeongseon Arirang", an intangible cultural heritage. Designated as a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, Arirang is the most beloved Korean folk song. This was handed down by word of mouth through the generations and its lyrics seem to encapsulate the Korean concept of existence and the range of emotions one may experience through it. Anyone may sing it easily and the song continues to be loved today and is continually re adapted to modern times.  
Jeongseon-eup Arari Park
Address: 112, Bongyang-ri, Jeongseon-eup, Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do
Some of my friends were afraid of going to Korea due to language barrier. If you are in need of travel information, an interpreter or in an emergency situation, dial 1330 from any phone to reach the Korea Travel Hotline operated by the Korea Tourism Organisation. A friendly and trained staff will be ready to help, providing the interpretation services when needed. Now that we have this sorted out, start packing your bags and head to Korea for a wonderful autumn!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Gangwon: A Journey Through Nature

Gangwon-do province is gifted with nature's riches: to the east lies the azure blue waters of the East Sea and along the mountain range, the backbone of Seoraksan, Odaesan and Taebaeksan mountains each showed off their splendid beauty. Surrounded by lush mountains and pristine waters, the region is often referred to as the "lungs of Korea" for clean air, peaceful valleys and breath-taking views are scattered throughout the region. It is a place to experience true relaxation and revitalize the tired body and mind in the untouched natural environment of Gangwon-do. No wonder that Gangwon-do is the most popular holiday destination for all! Let me take you through the 5 places to visit for a journey through nature in Gangwon-do. 
Seoraksan National Park 설악산국립공원
Seoraksan is the most iconic mountain of Gangwon-do and stretches through 3 counties of the province. With Daecheongbong Peak at its summit, Seoraksan Mountain (whose name literally means "mountains of snow and rocks"), features unique rock formations such as Ulsanbawai Rock and Gongnyong Ridge. Every fall, it is one of the first mountains in Korea to be coloured with autumn foliage, with mid-October being the best time to view this splendid scenery. Also referred to as the "snow-like white rock", the mountain is especially spectacular in winter when it is entirely covered in snow. 
Nami Island 남이섬 종합휴양지
Well-known as a filming site for the ever popular Korean TV drama Winter Sonata, Nami Island boasts an unique and romantic atmosphere. One of the most famous locations on the island is the tree-lined roads, which greets visitors with different colours throughout the year. You can relive the memories of the drama by walking along the path, otherwise there are also many interesting activities and facilities on the island. 
Jeongdongjin Sunrise Park 정동진 해돋이 공원
Jeongdongjin liternally means "due east" and was named so for being located directly east of Seoul's Gwanghwamun Gate. Crowds of people flock to this seaside park every New Year to watch the first sunrise of the year. A view of the coast can be seen immediately upon exiting Jeongdongjin Station, which holds the Guinness World record  for being the station closest to the sea. Not far from the station is Haslla Art World, which is an art garden located on a hill overlooking the green waters of the East Sea. 
Woljeongsa Temple 월정사
The most beautiful fir tree forest trail in Korea leads to the 1000-year-old Woljeongsa Temple, which is surrounded in the natural environment of Odaesan Mountain. This is especially ideal for hiking due to its trails lined with fir trees. At the entrance leading to Woljeongsa Temple, visitors will find restaurants serving set meals featuring over 20 side dishes made with mountain vegetables. A great opportunity to cleanse the body and soul! 
Hwanseongul Cave 환선굴
Hwanseongul Cave is the largest cave of Asia which formed an estimated 530 million years ago. The cave measures 6.2km long, of which 1.6km is open to public. The cave has a complicated structure, full of uniquely-shaped stalactites, stalagmites and is inhabited by many cave creatures. Visitors can take the monorail that departs from the ticket booth to the entrance of the cave, which offers a beautiful view of Deokhangsan Mountain that sits on top of the cave. 

So, start planning your next trip to Gangwon for an experience through nature! Have fun :) 

Images from Korea Tourism Organisation are credited with their watermarks. 


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Winter Ski in Korea

Winter is probably my favourite season; partly attributed by the fact that I'm born in the last month of the year. There is just something magical about winter; the streets are decorated with beautiful illuminations and romance is in the air.  Living in Singapore meant that we don't get to enjoy the 4 seasons but that doesn't stop me from traveling to other countries to experience the winter season, even though packing for winter travelling is a chore. There are tons of fun activities to do in winter, such as skiing, building snowman (my fave, by the way) and ice-fishing. Most of us living in the tropical countries will have little experience in winter sports, but fret not - take the opportunity to learn something new. After all, it is all part of the unique traveling experience! 
Ski slopes are often cold and snowy. The temperature is about -6°C degrees celsius on average but can drop below -10°C. Hence, we must be prepared at all times to enjoy skiing/snowboarding to the fullest. Before we start, here's a checklist of the items on what to prepare for skiing:
  • Ski goggles: protect your eyes from direct sunlight and light reflected from snow-covered fields. Extremely useful for shutting out wind and cold air.
  • Beanie, gloves and scarfs: prevent skin from being exposed to too much sunlight. Also to keep warm.
  • Lip balm, sunscreen: moisturise your lips since winter weather is mostly cold and dry. 
  • Heat pack: extremely handy in keeping your hands warm.
  • Ski jacket and pants: prevent wind from entering the body since they are mostly made from wind-resistant and waterproof materials. 
  • Skis and snowboarding: plenty of rental shops available within or outside the resorts.
Our 2-day ski trip at Yongpyong Resort. 
Besides skiing, we also visited the famous Dragon Peak at Yongpyong Resort. This is the filming site of K-dramas such as Goblin, That Winter, the Wind Blows and Winter Sonata. Well, no Gong Yoo by my side so have to make do with Leecher, lol! Stay tuned for more as I will be sharing more of our adventures in Yongpyong resort :) 

Visitors can also discover a whole new experience in skiing through the Ski Korea Festival, which combines 4-day ski festival and a 2-day snowtube race festival. You can refer to here for more details on the various festivals - something to check out on your next winter trip to Korea! Speaking of winter sports, there will be 15 winter sports disciplines included in this Winter Olympics. These are divided into snow, ice and sliding sports.
Snow Sports
*pic credits to PyeongChang2018 official website
  • Alpine skiing: a sport where a skier speeds down snow-covered slopes on skis with fixed heel bindings.
  • Biathlon: combined sport of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. The athletes ski around a certain distance with a rifle carried on their back and have to shoot at targets in a designated shooting area.
  • Cross-Country Skiing: a sport in which athletes ski along a designated course on snow-covered hills and fields. It emerged from a need to travel over snow-covered terrain and was developed as a sport at the end of 19th century. 
  • Freestyle Skiing: combines speed, snowman-ship and the ability to perform aerials, moguls, cross, half-pipe and slope-style tricks while skiing.
  • Nordic Combined: brings cross-country skiing and ski jumping together. It requires techniques and great physical strength. 
  • Ski Jumping: athletes descend a specially constructed ramp and takeoff with as much power as they can generate, to fly as far as possible down a steeply sloped hill.
  • Snowboard: a sport that uses a board attached to athlete's feet to speed down a specially designed slope.
Cross country skiing and ski jumping are probably the oldest ski sports in the games, having debuted in the first Winter Games in 1924. For ski jumping, my heart tends to skip a beat when the skiers glide down the ramp to jump and fly as far as they can go from the launching zone to the landing section. They must have enjoy the excitement and imagine the adrenaline rushing through the body as they fly through the air. 
Sliding Sports
*pic credits to PyeongChang2018 official website
  • Bobsleigh: teams of two or four athletes make timed runs down narrow, twisting, banked, iced tracks in a gravity-powered sled. The timed runs are combined to calculate the final score. 
  • Luge: athlete slide down a frozen track lying on a sled in the supine position. 
  • Skeleton: athlete slide down a frozen track on a sled in the prone position. The sled is controlled by the shoulders and knees.
In this category, athletes start with a 'push' phrase where the athlete sprints, pushing the sled to generate as much speed and acceleration as possible over the short distance to propel their body down the ice track. Speeds of 140km/h is common and at these speeds, it is inevitable that forces of gravity will hit 5G's and possibly, 6G's. Not everyone can withstand these type of forces. 
Ice Sports
*pic credits to PyeongChang2018 official website
  • Curling: two teams, each with 4 curlers, take turn sliding heavy, polished granite stones across the ice "curling sheet" towards the "house", or the target area.
  • Figure Skating: where skaters perform jumps, spins and artistic performances skating on ice to music.
  • Ice Hockey: contact team sport played in a rink, in which two teams of six skaters use their sticks to shoot a rubber puck into the opponent's net to score goals.
  • Short Track Speed Skating: where skaters skate on an oval ice track with a circumference of 111.12m.
  • Speed Skating: where two competitors race each other as fast as they can on a 400m ice rink. 
******
Now that we have learnt more about the various winter sports, it's time to mark the calendar for the event dates of these sports so we can cheer for the athletes as they compete against one another for the highly coveted Olympics medals! 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fun facts about Pyeongchang + Winter Olympics Event at Korea Plaza

Pyeongchang has been in the limelight ever since they won the rights to host the Winter Olympics games. As we talked about Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, we should also mention about Pyeongchang, the county at which the games will be held. Here are some fun facts about Pyeongchang:
  • "Happy 700 Pyeongchang" is the slogan of Pyeongchang. It takes the slogan from the city's average elevation, which is approximately 700m above sea level. This altitude is considered optimal for the human health and wellness. 
  • The city is marketed with CamelCase spelling of "PyeongChang" so as to avoid confusion with Pyongyang, the capital of neighbouring North Korea.
  • A KTX line will be built between Wonju and Gangnrung via Pyeongchang, which will shorten the traveling time from Seoul significantly. 
  • While the county of Pyeongchang is the host city of the Olympics, none of the events will be held in the actual city of Pyeongchang-eup (평창읍). This city is located on the left bank of the river Pyeongchanggang.
  • Dried pollock is considered the national delicacy. The fish is left to dry for weeks under the winter sun and it get as tough as cowhide. 
 
******* 
Here's a shout-out for those who are interested to know more about Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Pop by the Korea Plaza for a day of fun-filled activities as we countdown to D-200 days of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics! 
The activities look interesting; I'm particularly interested in taking part in the curling experience and also, sinking my teeth into those yummy street food! Besides engaging in the fun activities, you can also get more information in preparation of your Korea trips. The friendly staff are always available to help. Refer to the map below for more information on how to get there.

Address: 3 Church Street, #01-02 Samsung Hub, Singapore 049483
Opening Hours: 10AM till 7PM (Mon-Fri), 10AM till 1PM (Sat)
Tel: 6533 0447

Monday, June 26, 2017

Snippets of Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018


We are 228 days to the opening of Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. This is the XXIII Olympics Winter games and will be South Korea's first winter games, after hosting the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. Scheduled to take place from 9-25 February 2018, this major sport event will capture the attention of media around the world. While most of us will read about the coverage online, it would be an interesting experience to be at the event and watching the athletes competing for the medals. 
KTX to Pyeongchang
With the introduction of a new line on the KTX, visitors will be able to travel to Pyeongchang from Incheon Airport or Seoul area in just 86 minutes. The fuss-free journey will aid in increasing the number of visitors who are visiting Gangwon province - not just for the Olympic games. Gangwon province is also well known for other attractions such as Nami Island (my fave!), Seoraksan National Park and many more. I will cover these attractions in another post, so stay tuned for that.
The Venue
The games will be gathered around two main venues: Pyeongchang mountain cluster for outdoor sports and Gangneung coastal cluster for indoor sports. Both the opening and closing ceremonies will be held at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium, which boosts a seating capacity of 35,000. For those who are interested in attending the games, the online general sales will commence on 5 September. So, hop over to the official ticketing site to purchase your tickets! 
The Games
Athletes will compete in 102 events across snow, ice and sliding sports with over 100 gold medals to be won. 6 new events such curling mixed doubles, speed skating mass start etc will be added to the program. This will be the stage for the most number of mixed events in the history of Olympics Winter Games. 
The Olympic Flame
The Olympic flame will arrive in Incheon City 101 days before the start of the games. It will make its way around the regions of Korea, where a total of 7,500 torchbearers are expected to take part. A series of events/activities will be held in the cities, so people can share the excitement of the Olympic Torch Relay. 
The Olympic torch was revealed earlier this year. Designed by Korean designer Young Se Kim, the torch measured 700mm in length signifying the altitude of Pyeongchang which lies 700m above sea level. Dressed in white and gold tones, the torch mirrored the main colours of Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games Torch Relay while the 5 pronged shape of the flame is based on the Korean symbol for Pyeongchang, which is also engraved around the top and bottom half of the torch. The torch has been designed to withstand all weather conditions, so the flame will be kept lit throughout the relay.
Honorary Ambassadors for the Games
A total of 30 ambassadors have been selected for the games, with Taeyang (from Bigbang) being the latest to join the list. I was really glad to see Lee Min Ho on the list. Not forgetting Kim Yuna, the queen of figure ice-skating. 
Korean athletes in Pyeongchang Olympic Games
While watching the Olympic Special on Infinite Challenge, I got to know several athletes through the various games such as bobsleigh, curling and ice hockey. The bobsleigh team will be led by Yoon Sung Bin, Seo Young Woo and Won Yoon Jong. Yoon Jong appeared on the show, alongside with Lee Yong who is their coach and 3 of their team mates. 

Speed Skating Mass Start will be introduced for the first time as an Olympic event at Pyeongchang 2018 Games. Lee Seung Hoon will be the man to watch out for, having won the gold medal in the mass start race component of the World All Round Speed Skating Championships, hosted in Russia.  

Having read about their personal stories in interviews, I was impressed by the devotion of the athletes. They trained hard for many years and scarified a lot of family and personal time to be where they are. Hats off for their passion and let us cheer all the participating athletes in the coming games; get ready to scream "Daehanminguk"!

*all images are courtesy of Pyeongchang 2018 official website unless stated otherwise

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018: Singapore Supporters' Goodies Bag

30 years after hosting the summer Olympics in 1988, South Korea will once again play host to Pyeongchang Winter Olympics which will take place from 9-25 February 2018. I was lucky to be selected as part of the Pyeongchang Olympics Supporters team, hence I was gifted with these official merchandise from KTO Singapore.  Thank you for the love! 
The Official Emblem
The official emblem draws inspiration from Hangul, with the shapes that form the logo stemming from the first consonants from each syllable in the word "Pyeongchang" when written in Hangul. The symbol ㅍ expresses the harmony of Heaven, Earth and Man. The 2nd character  signifies ice and snow and also symbolic of the athletes' performances. In short, the official emblem symbolises a "grand gathering of people from all over the world in celebration of Olympic winter sports, which is taking place in the harmonious land of Pyeongchang". 

Unveiling The Mascot
Soohorang, a white tiger which served as a guardian for its people, is the official mascot of the Olympics games. In traditional Korean folk tales, the tiger is often seen as a symbol of trust, strength and protection. Bandabi, an Asiatic black bear which is symbolic of strong will and courage, is the official mascot for the Winter Paralympics games. Their names are symbolic too; let's break it down further:

"Sooho" : the Korean word for "protection". To protect the athletes, spectators and all participants of the Olympics games.
"Rang" : derives from the Korean word "ho-rang-i", which means tiger. It also appears in "Jeongseon Arirang", the traditional folk music of Gangwon Province, where Pyeongchang the host city is located. 
"Banda" : comes from "bandal" meaning half-moon, indicating the white crescent on the chest of the bear.
"Bi" : to celebrate the Games.

*image courtesy of google
Interestingly, the tiger is also used in the 1988 Seoul Games. "Hodori" was an orange Amur tiger, portraying the friendly and hospitable traditions of the Korean people. "Dori" is a diminutive for "boys" hence Hodori is a male tiger. The female version was known as "Hosuni", even though she was seldom used. 
Fun fact: If you have watched Reply 1988 (strongly recommended! I super love this series man, esp with Park Bo Gum!), you would have caught snippets of the Olympics games on the drama. 

The Official Slogan
Under the official slogan "Passion. Connected", the game aims to bring together the athletes and game participants across 95 countries and gather in Pyeongchang, a place where everyone is connected with shared passion for the winter sports. 

You can purchases these merchandises from the official Pyeongchang 2018 stores in Seoul. The first store opened to public in last Friday at Lotte Myeongdong branch. Two more official stores will open next month at Lotte's department store and duty-free shop in Seoul. Currently, there are over 300 items available but the number of products will reach 2000 by October. So be sure to grab an item or more when you are in the vicinity! 
Lotte Department Store, Myeongdong Main Branch (9th Floor)
Address: 30, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul

Lotte Department Store, Avenuel Branch (B1F)
Address: 81, Namdaemun-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Cycling at Yeouido Hangang Park

I spent the weekend catching up on my fave K-variety shows and I watched the Pyeongchang Olympics 2018 special on Infinite Challenge, with my eye-candy Park Bo Gum as the special guest (*.*) Having hosted the summer Olympics in 1988, South Korea will now host the Winter Olympics in 2018. In this special, they challenged winter sports such as bobsleigh, ice hockey and curling with the national Olympic team members. For those who have missed it, you could catch the specials on Viu (ep. 524 to 526) and witness the effects of "Bo-Gum" magic. I will be focusing more on Pyeongchang Olympics 2018 in future posts too. 
Now that the harsh and freezing winter has subsided and the weather has turned warmer, there is an increase in outdoor activities for friends and families prefer to spend their time outdoors after being in the cold for so long. Yeouido Hangang Park would be one of the top choices, for there is a wide range of activities to do in the park. We exited from Yeouinaru Station (Line 5, exit #3) and were greeted with this sight! 
It was a beautiful day and I'm glad we came out for this trip instead of spending our time indoors. During cherry blossom season, this place will be packed with people, who will set up "camp" on the open spaces with families and friends, bonding over drinks and food while enjoying the scenery. This park also plays host to the fireworks festival during fall. If you had watched "Legend of the Blue Sea", you would be familiar with the scene where Joon Jae and Shim Chung witnessed the fireworks display in this park. 
The main agenda for today's trip: renting a bicycle and exercise our butts, ha! There are plenty of bicycle kiosks scattered around the park. It was easy to rent the bikes even if you don't understand Korean: you just need to indicate the number of hours, how many bikes and surrender a photo ID as deposit. Also, try to use your driving license or student pass instead of passport just to be safe.

BIKE RENTAL INFORMATION
Min rental: 1h
Single/Child: 3000KRW/hr, 500KRW for every 15 min
Tandem/Advanced: 6000KRW/hr, 1000KRW for every 15 min
We selected our bikes which came with baskets so we can dump our stuff and ride with ease. 
Leecher testing out his bike and he looked like he's having fun!
We cycled for awhile; peddling furiously up the slope while cruising down slope. At this point, I was starting to curse under my breath for choosing this route. Well, we didn't exactly chose this but we just followed where the majority of the cyclists were heading, ha! I was beginning to feel the strain in my leg muscles, so we decided to stop for a quick break. Thankfully the weather was superb so I wasn't feeling sweaty even though I had a great workout. With Hangang Railway bridge as our backdrop, we took a couple of pictures before embarking on our return journey. 
That's the fun part, to feel the breeze in your hair after the intense workout of peddling up slope. 
Yeouido Hangang Park
Address: 8 Yeouido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul
Tel: 02-3780-0561
Directions: Yeouinaru Station (Line 5, exit #3)
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