Overall, my adjustment to living in South Korea has been really smooth. Everything feels pretty normal, and I feel very comfortable in my workplace and in my neighborhood. That being said, occasionally (and hopefully more often) my friends and I venture out into something uniquely South Korean. (Okay, they probably do this in Canada and Scandinavia, but let me dream).
We went to the Hwacheon Trout Ice Festival! Hwacheon is about two hours north of Seoul, and my friends and I were lucky enough to have a gracious guide and ride to the event. We met Harry through Meet Up, a fantastic app that allows you to meet like minded people who want to do the same things as you! In any case, we’ve been on a few trips with Harry, and he’s such an enthusiastic person that every trip has been so fun!
For the Ice Festival we knew we wanted to have a lot of time at the event so we left bright and early. My expectations of the event were to go, fish, and come home. I can say without any doubt, that I have never had so much fun at one event as I did today.
The river is set in the valley of some very mysterious mountains. The fog really made the entire day feel pretty magical, but it was freezing! I would recommend wearing very thick socks and having special hotpacks for your feet if you can find them
After we got everything sorted with tickets we moved on to the actual ice to fish for our very own trout! I was painfully unsuccessful during our first try before lunch, but I didn’t get too discouraged!
Lunch was great, and the menu was obviously trout! I was a little nervous because I know fish bones really skeeve me out, but I was so brave and destroyed that fish! (I didn’t eat the organs, whoops).
Then we went back to the ice; it was my chance for redemption! Not even five minutes back and Stefan catches the biggest fish we saw all day, and I caught one soon after. I’m really proud of myself for not screaming. Instead I calmly pulled the fish out of the water so silently that no one knew I had one on the line until it was on the ice.
After we were all satisfied with catching fish (except poor Michael, who had the worst luck and did not catch any our second time out) we ventured off to see what else the festival had to offer.
SO MUCH, by the way. There was snow tubing, zip lining, ice sliding, some traditional form of ice skating, and ATV shenanigans. Not to mention the wide variety of traditional korean foods like ddeokbokki, ramen, and honey stuffed pancakes! It was also really awesome watching the employees put the trout in these massive ovens designed just for the fish.
There were also some silly attractions like the fake animals we posed with, and of course the whole thing made me feel like a kid again.
I have to thank Harry for all of the amazing pictures he took of us, especially the shots of us going down the hill in innertubes.
I haven’t had the same thrill of feeling like I might die and the need to go again and again in a while! Every time we went back up we all came up with the best strategy for getting down the hill, and none of us toppled over, so it was a huge success!
After all of that we traveled over to the building with the indoor ice sculptures. It was a bit of a walk to get to, but the walk itself was really pleasant, too.
The sculptures are massive and made completely out of ice. I don’t know about previous shows, but this one was dedicated to major landmarks from all around the world. It wasn’t great for taking selfies because of how backlit it was, but the sculptures themselves were just incredible (and cold).
I would highly recommend making the trip to the ice festival if you are in or near Seoul in the winter. The only thing I wish they had was regular rink ice skating and it would have been a flawless winter day.
Thanks for reading, now I have to figure out how to cook these fish!