Muju Resort 4/8/12

Trip Start Mar 22, 2012
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37
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Trip End Apr 26, 2012


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Flag of Korea Rep.  , North Jeolla,
Sunday, April 8, 2012

Muju Resort is a study in the surreal. Situated deep in the heart of the central Korean mountains, Muju is one of the signature destination ski resorts in Korea. But what greets you is a resort theme lifted directly from the famous town of Tirol in the Bavarian Alps, complete with Hotel Tirol in Chateau-style with pine paneling, a painted sign offering visitors "Willkommen" on the grand staircase, Bavarian painted walls (visualize cherubic Hansel and Gretel, compete with Lederhosen!), workers in Austrian clothing, German writing on signs, and even Austrian gifts in the gift shop! Interspersed within this displaced experience are reminders that this is not Austria – Korean signs and writing everywhere!

Although our understanding of our 2-day retreat was to be on our own, that was not to be, as Mr. Jang, Henry and Mr. Choi's son Mark stayed with us. But George decided “Just Go With It!” since he really had no option. It turned out fine in the end; Mark and Henry speak English well, and Mark is a delight, giving us a wealth information about Korea, history, customs, etiquette and also just being good company. At 15, Henry is more shy, but always there with a smile.

Sunday was Easter, and also our one day without a strict schedule. George took a few minutes to play the piano upstairs in the Tirol Hotel while Julie, Katie and Sheryl headed for the spa for a relaxing sauna and massage. Peter was a bit under the weather, and Lindsey just kicked back in the ladies’ hotel room. The ski lift was not running to shuttle people up the hill, so George decided to take a hike up to the top for the exercise and the great view.

“I wanted to get some food before I hiked up the steep hill, and a Domino’s Pizza seemed like a fast and filling option. Unfortunately it was closed, so I spotted the 'Cafeteria’ sign next door and headed in to find a busy lunchtime crowd serving themselves in a buffet line. I just needed something quick, so I served myself and found a table by the window. Interestingly, no one had asked for payment, so I assumed it must be included with the room, or they would catch me before I left. I grabbed a Coke for the hike, cleared my place, looked around… as the only Caucasian in hiking clothes, I was oddly dressed but strangely invisible to everyone. Huh. I shrugged and headed out the door and up the hill. After my hike, Julie asked if I had seen the beautiful wedding couple at the spa… I realized suddenly that I had mistakenly crashed the wedding reception!!!”

The hike up was hot and strenuous, crisscrossing the snowy slope, to the bare patches and finding an occasional coin here and there. The warm sunshine was delightful, but soon George headed into the cool woods to keep from getting sunburned. He slipped once, skinning his hand on a rock, but forged upward. Finally, at the chair lift, he took victory pictures of the town below, then found a pathway to the very tip-top of the hill, where a gnarled old pine tree clung sentinel-like to the rock, overseeing the hills and valleys on every side. The Coke he had taken from lunch provided the perfect refreshment! After taking pictures, he headed down toward the quiet Muju golf course, bouncing down the snowy ski-run with gravity now on his side, until finally taking the maintenance road to the golf course. He almost walked right into a golf shot! Golf is very popular in Korea, but expensive. Few players were on the course, and he watched from the trees as the natty golfers expertly played their shots. From there, he stumbled into the woods, finding to his surprise a play and exercise zone nestled incognito amongst the pine and leafless deciduous trees. The best part was the rope bridge across a shallow gully, perfect for kids and adults alike to enjoy. The hike had been long, but a memorable Korean experience.

All the meals during the weekend were at the same Korean restaurant in town. Despite this, each meal offered something different as a main dish. Korean soup for breakfast and lunch, duck, pork or beef for meat, and the usual side dishes of kimchi, pickled radish, garlic, lettuce leaves, and different greens.

The topper for the day was when Mr. Jang suggested we go out for karaoke. We finished dinner, and a minute later, we were ushered into our own karaoke room to sing it up. Mr. Jang started off with a Korean number, and really impressed us all with his great voice, smooth moves and the occasional “Hey!” punctuating the song. We spent a couple of hours taking turns, singing anything from Elvis to Bon Jovi to Lady Gaga, and everything in between. Solos, duets, group singing, it didn’t matter, everyone had a great time of fun!
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Comments

Mike Hamel on

Love the wedding crasher story!!!
Food looks great!
It took me awhile to get used to green beans for breky.
Looks like skiing there is long past.
The skiing here is still very good.
Skiing Baker this weekend!

Rob Martin on

Hello Team! You certainly are in Korea at a very interesting time. I hope you have had a chance to get the perspective from the local Rotarians and their family members. Glad to hear you are all well and enjoying your experience. I heard from Chairman Choi last week and it sounds like they are enjoying hosting our Team very much! Enjoy the rest of the trip! Rob

Debe Franz on

Love the weeding crashing story, George! You'd be so invisible too!!

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