Monday, December 26, 2011


People who know anything about South Africa will know that we don't really get snow in winter. Sure, sometimes the Drakensberg will get some fluff, or the mountains near Ceres in the Cape will go a bit white, but for the most part it's not a place where you'd take up skiing. So you can only imagine the hilarity when a bunch of Saffas (and an assortment of other nationalities) attempted to stay upright on skis and snowboards in -5 degree weather.

Muju, freezing cold!
We decided on a day trip and went to Muju, about 3 hours from Daegu. It's apparently not the fanciest of resorts in Korea, but given that most of us had never touched a ski pole, it was perfectly adequate for our meagre needs. I decided to ski rather than be 'cool' and snowboard, mainly because I didn't want to risk breaking my wrist a month before going to Thailand, as a friend of ours did last year. I think I made the right decision, after watching my boarding friends' attempts to stay upright!

We left on a tour bus at 6am and arrived at Muju just before 9. It snowed along the way, which was delightful as it meant there would be real snow on the slopes and not just fake stuff. We were given our very sexy rented ski gear (mine was all blue so I looked like a Smurf) as we got off the bus, and were sent to change, get boots and skis, and meet the instructors. The package we booked (through Daegu Tour for 110k per person for everything) included a lesson for 2 hours, which was a god-send!

Snowboarders went one way and we went another. They got a pretty and relaxed girl who spoke decent English, we got a drill sergeant man who shouted at us, made us stand in two lines and did most things through the dramatic method of mime. I'm exaggerating slightly, but not by much. He was a young guy but very serious about his duties, and made us do the same things over and over again. He taught us how to fall (cross your arms, fall sideways and land on your bum) and shouted if we put our hands out. "No! Nonononono!"

Fay and Teacher discuss standing up after falling.
The most amusing part of the lesson was learning the 'frog position'. We're not quite sure if that's really what it's called, but Megan was doing some vague translating and caught the word frog, and we just added 'position' to it. So anyone who learns from this guy in future and he says 'frog position,' think of me! Anyway, this technique involves putting your skis in a V shape, with the close ends in the front. But your skis can't touch, the tips must be 10cm apart. If they're 9cm or 11cm apart, you'll get a stern "No! Nonononono! 10 centimetah!" from Teacher! So we went down a tiny hill over and over, practising the Frog Position, and anything other than "No!" was taken as a compliment. In the video you can hear him giving detailed instructions, and then saying "No!" after Tim's attempt.

Preparing to go down a little hill.
There were a couple of falls, but none from me, thank the lord. I was terrified of getting hurt, so I concentrated hard all day and stayed on my feet even when doing down the bigger, faster slope. Well, to be fair, there were 4-year-olds going down this beginner hill faster than we were, but when you're on it, it feels like lightning! It's so smooth and slippery, and my skis kept going straight/parallel so I'd go even faster. I couldn't stay in Frog Position! I just breathed as if I were going into labour and focused on not letting my skis cross, and made it down to the bottom without incident.

The only time my bum touched the snow was when I was at the top of the slope, putting my skis back on after the lift to the top. The left one wouldn't go on, so I kept sliding down the hill on the attached right ski and eventually fell on my ass. The Lovely Gen found this hilarious, and only after regaining her breath after laughing did she check if I was ok. Nice, babe! Nice! Shame, she took an almighty tumble a few minutes later though, the poor little thing. Thank god for Myprodol!

Most of us continued to play in the snow for the rest of the afternoon, while others cut their loses and went for some apres-ski coffees at the bottom of the big slopes. The snowboarders joined the skiers in the afternoon and I was very grateful I chose the skis. I don't know how much I'd enjoy not being able to move my feet independently of each other... And they spent more time on their bums than standing upright, and my back isn't in the greatest condition at the best of times. I did try the snowboard near the end of the day, mind you. I sat on it and went down the hill as though on a toboggan!

TLG and Smurf!

Rodney on his snowboard, waiting to go down the hill.
So much pretty in one picture should be illegal.

1 comment:

  1. Please can I actually copy and paste this as my experience minus the ski lesson (which would have been most appreciated as I fell and broke my skull). Great writing, as usual!