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Days 53-56: Skiing in Korea

About a week into my time here in SK, I was invited skiing by a classmate, but the weekend she suggested was one where I went to the Reseffect Korean Hip Hop concert with my roommate and hence a day that it couldn't go. She has been back in her hometown for a few weeks but is back now and suggested it again.

While she had been away I made friends with lots of other classmates some of whom mentioned that they wanted to try skiing so I asked if we could invite others and it ended up becoming a class trip.

So on Saturday, eight classmates (a few more wanted to come but couldn't because of prior engagements) went skiing together.

My Friday was spent preparing for the trip and buying a bit of food and the like so I wouldn't go hungry on the day. Friday was also the day my roommate went clubbing in South Korea for the first time, so while she was out clubbing, I bought myself a cup of Korean Fried Chicken, and went to bed early.

I got up at 5:30am, when my roommate was on the way out of the club, and twenty minutes after I left our room, she came home.

The ski resort is one that's really close to Seoul and that they funnily enough advertised it on the Subway as we were on our way to the meeting place: 엘리시안 강촌 (Elysian Gangchon).

We went with a Chinese package tour which was a really interesting experience.

It included ski rental, bus trip back and forth, an hour skiing instruction, ski passes for the entire resort, and skiing jacket and trousers.

I had originally wanted to ski, but been talked into snowboarding by my classmate who really wanted to snowboard. She assured me that there was a teacher for it so it would be fine and so I agreed. But when we arrived, there were so few snowboarders on the package tour that the lessons were only for the skiers, so I thought there is no way I could learn snowboarding in one day and certainly not without a teacher. My friend had also tried snow boarding a few times before, so she was okay, but I never had.

More importantly: Everyone here was a beginner, and I had a feeling that someone would need to pick them up, at least at the beginning, so I switched over to skis and turned into a ski instructor.

The entire morning I spent going down the slope only twice, because I took care of four new skiers. When they fell, I skied down to them and helped them up, and sent them on their way. And then I had to stomp up the side of the slope to fetch another one who had fallen.

A few of them learnt quickly, but one of those who learnt quickly also had this inability to stop up when he was skiing. So he had learnt to go in zig-zag, but then he tried to stop after one swing, and ended up skiing backwards down the slope and then falling with his skis dangling above him in a cross. It looked like a scene from a comic book - every - single time!

In the afternoon I went with two other classmates who were a little better and took some steeper slopes twice. I still tried to go last each time because when I went first someone always ended up falling higher up on the slope where it was more difficult to get to them.

It was a lot of fun though, helping people, and it made me discover how my good my skiing skills actually are (hint: good). I always managed to stop up ten cm below the person I was aiming to help, and I felt pretty proud of that. I picked up quite a lot of skis and ski poles, and not just those belonging to classmates.

​Once, a classmate stopped up to help a kid who had fallen, but she hadn't been able to stop at the right time, and was just far enough down the slope that she couldn't help. So I rush in, snow flying to the side as I stop just beneath the kid, and tell him: "I'll help you, take my hand." He was crying, so I asked if he was okay, to which he answered that he was fine. I asked him if he could see someone that he was with, and he managed to spot a few people. I got him on his feet, and moved out of the way so he could ski down to a thankful adult further down the slope.

We were about to leave when one of my classmates realised that she had lost her phone during the last ten minutes of skiing. Another classmate and I make it over to the costumer service center and file a missing items report for it. And then, thankfully I go and ask staff at the snowboarding counter, and they had found it. Lucky, lucky.

So during this time, as we've been running around looking for the phone, we were supposed to get on our bus, so our tour bus is a little panicked at this point and trying to get us to move along and gather, and yet in all of this chaos, we think that it's a great idea to stop and pose in front of a Christmas decoration for a photo.... The Tour guide was not pleased, I can tell you that much, even if I don't speak Chinese. But we did get on the bus in time, and we also were not the last people on the bus, so that made me feel a little better and maybe we're slightly less likely to be banned from package tours like this in the future...

We were all pretty exhausted when we came home to Seoul in the evening, but most of us stopped to get food anyways, because as tired as we were, we were also hungry.

I tried the following for the first time. It's a white Tofu stew. I usually have the red ones (the spicy ones), and I have never tasted the white ones, but it was delicious and there was a lovely amount of nice side dishes too.

Today I've been catching up on homework for tomorrow (essay, workbook, and vocabulary test), and as a reward, my roommate and I headed out to the arcade when we were done with our essays. But since it was a Sunday it was pretty full of people and the Dance Dance Revolution was solidly manned, so we intend to go back after a hard day during the week.

Also, today the K-pop idol group Monsta X were having their Fan Con/Concert at the concert hall in our university.

At midday my roommate and I headed out to buy lunch, and it was full of people standing in long lines, so we knew that something was up. We saw a lot of fan banners (most of them had the name IM on them), and we know that is the name of an idol in the group Monsta X, so we realised what was going on, although we thought that it was a solo event for one member and not a group fan meeting, which is what it was.

Then on our way back, just outside the university, a big black celebrity van stops (if you know what they look like you see those vans quite often here), and out of the van comes no other than IM from Monsta X. The very person that the thousands of people up on the hill by the university are waiting for.

He was scared when he saw us. I mean fear, not shock. He took a step back, a panicked glance to his staff members, and seemed to consider rushing back into his car.

Two foreigners heading up towards the university hill. He must have thought that we were crazy fans who had come to see him. We very well could have been, but we weren't. My roommate and I were very pleased with our lunch purchase and eager to eat, so we passed him by without second glance and proceeded up to the hill to our university.

Honestly, I knew that he was a celebrity, and I knew that he was in Monsta X, and I like their music even if I don't often listen to it, but no I did not take a photo of him. I did not even stop for a split second to consider it. I did not address him or talk to him, or glance back over my shoulder as I headed up the hill, and I am glad that I did not.

Even if I had been a huge Monsta X fan I wouldn't have gone for my camera. Why would I? What am I going to do with a photo? I don't need to prove to anyone that it happened. It did. So why would I need to make another person feel like a zoo animal, by treating them like that?

If anything I feel sorry that some people have to be fearful of others like that, because what I saw in his eyes was not excitement at meeting a possible fan, but fear for his own safety.

Anyways thanks to the wind, we got to listen to some Monsta X songs in the night...

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