Monday, September 27, 2010

26 Sep 10 - Day 3 (Yongpyong, Korean Traditional Centre & Duksan Spa Castle)

Morning call at 7am, washed up and M got up about 7.20am. I suggested to M to wear two t-shirts in case it gets cold up on the Peak. Ate breakfast at 8am at the café opposite the resort and we set off at 9am. Hanna suggested taking the Gondola up to the Dragon Peak which was also another film site for Winter Sonata. Dragon Peak stands at 1485m above sea level and the Gondola ride took 20min. We had a car to ourselves and M was excited. She took lots of photos while I enjoyed the ride and the view.

Cafe where Winter Sonata was filmed

Arrived at the Peak, got off the car, waited for the rest and walked around the area. Hanna showed us the three trees where each tree has half the tree withered and half the tree still alive with leaves. Further up, there were three big stone piles. Hanna said those were man-made by people who made a wish. A person will pick up a stone, clasp the stone with both hands, close eyes to make a wish and then place the stone on the pile of stones and with time, the piles grew to these big sizes. So M and I both looked for stones and made our wishes. Then we both looked for another two stones to bring back as souvenirs.

One of the three half alive and half dead trees

 The wishing stone pile

There were many nice flowers growing on the Peak due to the cool weather and we took photos. After that, we hurried up to the second floor where another café was to take a look and used the restrooms. M took off one of the t-shirts because it wasn’t as cold as we had expected. Took the Gondola down to our resort which was another 20min and then paid 12,000 Won each to Hanna coz the Gondola ride wasn’t part of our package.

Some photos of beautiful flowers on Dragon Peak :

Left Yongpyong Resort to the Korean Traditional Centre and during the journey, Hanna told us more about South Korea and North Korea. They were separated for 57 years and South Korea was ruled by Japan for 36 years. The separation of the South and North Korea resulted in lots of broken families (离散家庭) and to the Korean, Chuseok meant a time for family reunion. So the Red Cross tried to help the families from South Korea to look for their long lost families in the North Korea and tried to let them reunite for a few days.

As the journey was long; we had a rest at a stop point. We bought a cup of Twinberry Cheesecake ice cream from Baskin Robbins and a bag of 240g of Walnut Cake to share. Continued our journey to the Korean Traditional Centre where we were given a demonstration and explanation of how Kimchi were made. Then we had the chance to try doing it ourselves. After that, we were given ginseng milk drink each and a plate of kimchi with sweet potato and sweet potato rice cake as snacks. The Centre also sells Kimchi of different kinds and different levels of spiciness at buy 5 get 1 free. The rest of the group placed their orders and some combine orders, only M and I didn’t get any since only the two of us eat and a pack is at 1kg.

Baskin Robbins Twinberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Our kimchi

Freshly made Walnut Cakes

Our bibimbap lunch

After that, we headed to another place within the Centre for Bimbimbap lunch before going to another place also within the Centre for Hanbok fitting. Asked M to choose for me and she got me a pink one with a green outer coat while she got a light blue with yellow outer coat. It was later that Hanna told us that the one I was wearing was a wedding dress. After taking some photos, I wore M’s light blue Hanbok and she wore a guy one and we took more photos. Then I wore the guy one and M wore another pink Hanbok and took some more photos. Left the Korean Traditional Centre and headed to a fruit farm.
As the fruit in season was apple so we headed for an Apple Farm where we got to see apple trees and asked the farmer there to help pick the apples that we fancied. It was 1-for-1 deal where we asked the farmer to pick one and we would be given another at the exit. M didn’t know about that and thought we get to pick two each in the farm, so after getting one each and while on the way out, we saw a couple of red ones and Min went to handpick them. Put two of the apples in her bag and took the given ones at the exit so we ended up with three apples each. Ate one each on the coach while on the journey to Duksan Spa Castel. During the ride, Hanna said that there were four meals which we had to settle on our own and she was suggesting that we eat together as a group for three meals out of four at the places and food that she recommended which were Korean specialties.

Apples on Apple Tree

Reached there about 4:30pm and was told to get ready at the lobby again in 20min’s time for the water park. So once we got to the room, we repacked our backpack to take out the unnecessary things and put in our swimsuits, swimming caps, toiletries, etc. and changed into t-shirts and shorts. Were the first to reach the lobby followed by the two friends, Cynthia, the couple and the daughter of the family of three whose name was Mei Shan. The water park was at the next block to our hotel. After we got there, Hanna briefed us on where the facilities were, how to use the electronic device where expenses were charged to that device and accounts settled before we leave the premises. Some of our group members didn’t have swimming caps and so had to either buy or rent and Cynthia had to rent a swimsuit.

Changed into our swimsuits in front of our lockers coz didn’t want the hassle of going to the changing room and besides, the women and children there were walking around naked, not the least embarrassed about their body shapes. Then we set off to the indoor water park where there were things like Jacuzzi, bubble pool, etc. The water was warm and we soaked ourselves in the pool for a while. Then I suggested going out to take a look at the outdoor facilities. The moment we stepped out, we could feel the cold air and M was shivering. Quickly went back indoor and jumped back into the pool. I kept psychoing M to go out to play at least one slide since we were already living in Duksan Spa Castle. Told M to invite the others and we went out together again. Most of us shivered and Mei Shan tested the water and said it was cold so I tried and found it ok. All of us headed back indoor and I asked M if she wanted to do the slide. So she gave one last shot and we went out for the third time.

Quickly went to the life jacket rental counter to collect two life jackets after mentioning James Tour and put them on. M felt better after wearing the life jacket. We stood in front of the map to see which slides to play and then decided to do the Master Blazer. Climbed the steps up, paid for the ride and were guided to the 2-persons float. Sat inside it with M in front, got ready and then we found ourselves sliding down the tube. It was fun and it felt like Viking when we slide down certain parts of the tube and one part of it was in total darkness. Reached the end, got down the float and M was hooked. Checked out the map again to see what else we could do but after the Master Blazer, the rest seems tame. So we returned the life jacket and went back indoor where we found and others and described to them what we did.

After a while, we got out of the pool and went to try the hot bath which was separated from the indoor pools. So we took off our swimsuits, used the tumbler machines to dry our swimsuits and put them in the locker. Went into the normal one with 39 degrees and it was heaven. Then we went to the next one, which had brownish water and smelled like herbs. After a while, went to another one that has greenish water that could content sulfur. The last one was above 40 degrees and after going in for 5 seconds, we had to get out. The shower facilities were open type so we decided to return to our room to shower instead hence only did a quick rinse, dried our bodies, changed into our clothes and headed back to our room at 6:20pm. We were expecting ourselves to feel cold and run back to our Hotel block, surprisingly, we didn’t feel cold at all outside.

Showered and headed for dinner at 7:30pm. During dinner, most of the group members were for the suggestions of eating together for the three recommended meals and so M and I went along. We paid Hanna 40,000 Won each for the three recommended meals. After eating, we walked around the hotel and headed to the Family Mart to get yogurt drink, aloe vera drink, a cup of grape-flavored jelly and a bottle of Angel-In-Us coffee before going to the pool room where the rest of the group was. M wanted to play pool but after knowing the rate, she didn’t want to. So we hung around to watch the others play and only left the place when Mei Shan’s parents and Cythia left.

Our drinks and snacks :

Back to the room, settled down and watched I Am Legend while settling the accounts for the day, enjoying our drinks and I boiled water. The rooms in Duksan Spa Castle were those of a mini apartment that comes with a small kitchen equipped with electric stove, fridge, pots and pans, knives, glasses, cups, etc. There were two rooms where one had a queen size bed and a dressing table while the other was meant for people who want to sleep on the floor using futons coz below the floor there was heating elements. Finished the show and hit the hay past 12-midnight in the room using futons.

Some photos of our room in Duksan Spa Castel :

Thoughts: Of all the traditional costumes around the world, I have always like Hanbok best and to be able to try wearing three at one time to take photos was a dream comes true. Kimchi tasted better in Korea than in Singapore and if only sis’s family eat Kimchi, I would have ordered some myself to share. Duksan Spa Castle was great! I always like rooms that are apartment-like with mini kitchen and mini living room and there were indoor and outdoor water facilities for people to enjoy. If only we had reached the place in the late morning or early afternoon to play in the water.

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