So after spending a week in Seoul, Scott and I spent the next 5 days in the mountains riding shuttle buses (and occasionally going to Olympic events).

Feb 14, 2018

Buses: 6     Taxis: 3     Trains: 1    Subway: 1

Events attended: mens curling round robin

This was a rough day because we had to bring our bags from our hotel in Seoul to our hotel in Donghae via Gangneung, then go back to Gangneung for curling, and then we tried taking the free shuttle back to Donghae afterwards. O_O

Curling was cool though. We had great seats, and Canada won!

Scott got interviewed by the Washington Post. He now likes to tell everyone he’s a nationally quoted curling expert. (PS there are two quotes guys!!).

Feb 15, 2018

Buses: 3     Taxis: 2

Events attended: mens hockey CAN v SUI

We were supposed to go to mens Super G in the morning too but it ended up being way too windy up in the mountains so the event got postponed. I was pretty relieved to not have to get up super early to get to the mountains tbh, since it took us soooo long to get back to our hotel the night before on the free shuttle. We would have died. Anyway instead we watched mens skeleton heat 1 & 2 in bed at the hotel, and then leisurely headed back to Gangneung to spend the day at Canada House before hockey.

Canada House was so cool! We got there in time to watch the ladies hockey CAN vs USA game, which obviously everyone was super in to. It was stressful, but Canada won. They had Canadian food and drinks, and even gave out free poutine in the afternoon. We saw lots of athletes, like Tessa Virtue, Alexandre Bilodeau, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (everyone cheered when they came in), and Jeremiah Brown (rower).

Hockey was good. Our original tickets were SOOOOO HIGH UP OMG. We had like a vertical view of the rink, haha. It wasn’t very full though so about half way through the game we moved much closer to the ice.

After a few minutes in our new seats I realized that we were sitting directly in front of Jennifer Jones and Kevin Koe (and the rest of the mens curling team). They were friendly.

Canada dominated. We won 5-1.

We decided to not bother with trying to use the free shuttle back to Donghae and instead took a very long taxi because #yolo. Well really we had ‘saved’ money by getting a hotel so far away (possibly not the best idea in retrospect) so it was fine. A million thank yous to the Olympic volunteers who helped us get a taxi since we couldn’t use any of the taxi apps without a Korean phone number.

Feb 16, 2018

Buses: 6     Taxis: 2     Trains: 1

Events attended: mens skeleton heat 3 & 4, womens skeleton heat 1 & 2

Another big day. We had to get up early and head into the mountains after very little sleep for mens skele, then kill 8 hours, and stay out late for womens skele. AND THEN do the epic journey from the mountains back to our hotel.

There were no spectator shuttles to the top of the track so we had to hike up… TWICE!!! We did 160 flights of stairs that day, omg. It was exhausting, but being at the start was so fun. We cheered and yelled and cowbell’d for everyone until our throats ached.

Tired but very excited at the sliding track.

The mens race was a bit of a runaway. Yun Sung-Bin is an excellent slider AND had home track advantage, so he dominated. The crowd was SO HYPED for him, which was cool to see.

Martins Dukurs had a rough race. He was in 3rd position after the first day, moved up to 2nd on run three, and then made a mistake and dropped out of the medals to 4th on his final run. I was heartbroken for him. A Russian (who also competed in Sochi but somehow managed to not get caught for cheating like every single other one of his teammates) got silver, and GB got bronze which was a bit of a surprise.

We had a lot of time to wait until the ladies race so we checked out the Pyeongchang Olympic Plaza. The sponsors had giant exhibits, many of which involved VR, which I had never tried before. This one was kinda fun, you had to use the gun to shoot down these flying thingies while dodging getting hit yourself. We also went to a hologram K-pop concert, haha.

We also went to the Olympic Superstore, which was super huge and super crowded. I got a Soohoorang skeleton t-shirt and we got a few pins and magnets too. Everything was so cute!

We spent the rest of the time in the Bing Bong Bing Bong food tent, as I like to call it, until it was time to head back to the sliding centre.

Look who we found!! Rob was my skeleton coach in Whistler a few years ago. Since then he’s been coaching the small nations on the World Cup circuit, and was coaching Australia for the Olympics. So cool to see old friends.

Ladies skeleton was funnnnn. It was a much closer race than the mens, and it was impossible to tell who was going to win after day 1.

Feb 17, 2018

Buses: 4     Taxis: 2     Trains: 1

Events attended: womens skeleton heat 3 & 4

I think I slept in until 2pm this day. We were so exhausted we just ate McDonald’s in bed and watched Olympics on tv/tablet/laptop ALL MORNING and AFTERNOON. It was glorious.

Eventually we headed back to the sliding centre. There was tons of traffic so we didn’t get there in time to hike up to the start area, so instead we watched in the crowds at various corners of the track. It was packed, again. It’s so amusing how everyone gasps and screams and cheers as the sliders fly past. I sort of forgot how skeleton looks to the layperson, who is just amazed by the speed and not analyzing the lines and such. The excitement is contagious.

Although the Canadian girls didn’t finish quite as high up on the list as I thought they might, I’m still so so proud of them. They each had some fantastic runs throughout the competition and some excellent start times. I loved watching all of them.

Currently wearing three pairs of pants, three shirts, and three heat packs. :D

Feb 18, 2018

Buses: 1(!)     Taxis: 2     Trains: 1     Subway: 1

Events attended: womens curling round robin

Our last day in the Olympic area. :( We dropped our bags at the train station, spent the day in the Gangneung Olympic Park, and then took the train back to Seoul.

We only had to take one bus today!!! Because you could walk from the train station to the Olympic Park (this was the view on the walk). It would have been extremely useful to know that everything was super convenient by train. All the shuttle buses were train-centric. It probably would have been cheaper and easier to just stay in Seoul the entire time and just take the train every day than stay in our love hotel in Donghae. Ah well though, there was no way of knowing that ahead of time, and I am still so thankful for Jinnie saving our butts and helping us find any kind of hotel at all.

Our last event was ladies curling. The Canadian ladies weren’t doing so hot, although they did win this game. The Korean girls were doing very well though and because of that the place was PACKED. Actually we could barely even see anything because our seats weren’t that good and the Korean fans were going bananas. Everyone kept leaning forwards and moving around. I don’t think anyone was actually sitting in their real seats. Once they finished their game though EVERYONE left and we could watch the last few ends of our game in peace.

And that was that! Olympic time over. It was SO TIRING, but extremely fun. We learned a lot, so our next Olympics will be better. ;) Calgary 2026 perhaps?

PS that popcorn had four different flavours in it! And the beer was only $4!

AKA Spicy Chicken Stir Fry with a Cheese Moat :D :D

Because obviously when you make a spicy chicken and vegetable stir fry you think “wouldn’t this be better with a crap load of cheese”. Right? Maybe it’s just me. #everythingisbetterwithcheese

Anyway this exists. And it was great. I’m gonna walk you through it.

We ordered chicken galbi for three people. They fire up the burner on the table and bring out a giant pan filled with chicken in gochujang, potatoes, rice cakes, various vegetables, and a exorbitant amount of shredded cheese. We stare at it, unsure if we are supposed to start stirring.

Waiters come over and start stirring our pan every once and a while. We relax as we realize that they will do everything for us, haha. Nibble some banchan.

Look at the amount of cheese they gave us and wonder if we’ve made a terrible mistake.

When the food is mostly cooked they pour the cheese into the cheese moat.

Stir stir. Melt melt. Bubble bubble.

Is it ready yet??

It’s ready!!! Dig in.

Grab bits of chicken and/or veg and scoop up some cheese and shovel it all into your mouth. Yummmm.

Finish the stir fry and ask for one serving of rice. Waiter comes over and scrapes out the extra bits of food and cheese, then adds rice to the pan.

He does some elaborate scraping and stirring for a few minutes.

And smoothing.

Aww. “For Family” the waiter says.

Take selfies with your Japanese table buddies!

Roll home.

Another day, more Seoul-searching. Sunny, but coooooold.

At a design plaza/museum. We went hard in the gift shop, everything was so cool/cute.

That whole long building is a shopping mall!!! And it went off equally far in the opposite direction! There were so many malls omg. The shopping in Seoul was crazy, but we couldn’t really buy much clothes because we are too fat in Korea. We did have to get snowpants and mine are size XXL and they’re almost too small. :((( Maybe there is a whole mall for people that are Big & Tall but we didn’t look for it tbh.

We went to a Trick Eye Museum that was… weird. You could download an app and then when you pointed the camera at the different scenes it added stuff, aka augmented reality.

You could also go into an ice museum with a slide, and get your face printed onto a latte.

It would have been fine for $5 like the kimchi museum but unfortunately it was $15. I don’t really recommend it.

Oppa Gangnam Style!

We also checked out Insadong, Lotte World, many super hipster cafes that Jinnie recommended, underground malls, Hongdae, a lemur cafe (but left immediately because there was a kangaroo in a tiny cage and it made us all very sad), and many many other things. The entire trip we were either exploring, watching Olympics, stuffing our faces, or eating. LOL. I walked average 20k steps a day. Not bad.

OK so apparently Rosemarie is like an expert of Korean food, and she had a food bucket list a mile long. Since she had less time in Korea than us we let her make all the food decisions while we were together. She did a great job serving as Minister For Food.

Here are a few things that we loved:

BBQ was obviously a must-eat. We found this place in Hongdae that was All You Can Eat for like $12. We cooked up all sorts of vegetables and meats and wrapped them in lettuce and dipped in the salty oil and the peanutty sauce. Yum. We all liked the marinated beef the most, nice and tender with a good sauce.

A very good selection of banchan. Peanuts, fish, anchovies, eggs, mushrooms, pickled veggies, kimchi. Banchan comes free and unlimited with every meal, but usually we only got 3-4 things, not 8!

We stayed in Myeongdong, which was a very busy shopping area (especially beauty shops!) with tons of restaurants and street vendors. There was always lots to see and do and eat in Myeongdong and it was very central for transit too. A+ Would Myeongdong again.

Those were subway station doughnuts and they were amazing. Very crispy with vanilla custard, sweet potato, and red bean fillings. Scott walked 1 hr each way to go back for more doughnuts later in the week.

Raw beef bibimbap in stone pot. The pot was flipping hot so when you stir it around (after adding heaps of gochujang of course) it cooks the beef a bit, and the rice on the bottom gets crunchy. We ate variations of this a lot, which is good since it’s full of vegetables and relatively healthy.

This was another of Rosemarie’s must-eats… Korean seafood pancake. It brought back memories of when our parents took us to a Korean restaurant in NYC in approximately 2002 and we got traumatized by the still-moving seafood stew and acted like brats and wouldn’t eat anything except for the plain bits of the Korean pancake on the side. Thankfully we have become more adventurous eaters since then, and enjoyed the whole pancake this time.

She also made us try a mango mountain (one of those giganto desserts with shaved ice and all sorts of toppings like mango and cheesecake and ice cream), which Scott and I liked but Rose didn’t (she said it didn’t have good texture and was too cold). And she introduced us to one of those bbq places with a cheese moat (yes you read that right, and yes that is getting its own blog post coming up next) which was obviously amazing.

Then she had to go back to work in Japan. :( Sister time over. But oh man we love travelling with Rosemarie. Our collaborations of research and interests always end up being so much fun. Next time Japan? Or Vietnam?

Rosemarie on the blog here to report about our day watching slopestyle!

In January, Katrina messaged me and said “we could totally go watch an Olympic event while you are in Seoul!” I hadn’t even thought of that option so I was pretty stoked to go see an event (and also that Kat would do all the organizing).

We looked at all the tickets and decided that we would go see the qualification round of Men’s snowboard slopestyle. It was the easiest logistically, not tooooo tooo expensive, and seemed pretty exciting. #YOLO

To get to the event location, we took the first subway from our hotel and then literally ran to catch the first train. The train was about 1.5 hours long, which is about 2/3 the width of South Korea. We were so excited when we got to the Pyeongchang train station, and then immediately realized that there was nothing around the train station at all (hmm how will we occupy ourselves for 3 hours). So, we hopped on to the shuttle to the event venue.

Luckily, there was a cafe right across from the ski hill that we could hang out in for a bit and eat breakfast. The owner/manager of the cafe was SO HAPPY that his cafe was full.

When the event was about ready to start, we entered in the venue, got swagged up and headed up to the stands. From our seats, we could see the bottom 3 jumps and we could watch the rest on a screen.

We knew nothing about slopestyle. Hehe. The athletes did a ton of different jumps. My favourites were:

“pop-tart off the kiwa”
“melon grab cab 1440 off the wu-tang”
“fakie backie switch to frontside fakie chicken salad”

It was very exciting and super fun that there were 4 Canadians in the event. It was cold, for sure, but I think it was colder on other days of the games.

We were also able to watch moguls training happening at the same time. From our seats, we could see the moguls and aerials course.

There were two CBC reporters at the event who took a bunch of photos of us. Katrina made it in a gif! I was interviewed for a Valentines Day segment, but didn’t make it in the final cut.

Getting back to Seoul was easy. We even had our own private shuttle (where did everyone go?)

We are pretty much slopestyle experts now. Also, I am Mark McMorris’ #1 fan.

PS Scott dropped his flag while cheering and claimed the area under the bleachers as Canadian territory.

Is this not the best looking airplane meal you have ever seen? I mean, bibimbap with plenty of vegetables, Kit Kat, Canada Dry, a lil’ tube of lip balm gochujang?? Amazing.

Scott and I had one day in Seoul before Rosemarie arrived. She’s been getting plenty of nakey spa time in Japan so we decided that was a good activity for us to do before she got there. We went to Dragon Hill Spa, thanks to Leslie’s informative blog post about jjimjilbangs. The weirdest part was having to strip naked in the change room, then walk past the (fully dressed) ladies selling eggs at the snack counter and head down the stairs to the floor with the pools. Once I got to that area I was fine, but I felt really weird walking around nude when people were still arriving in their winter coats.

Anyway they have separate bath areas for men and women so Scott and I each went for a soak and met up for lunch later in the spa restaurant. I liked the medium temperature pools the most, and the herbal pools and the cold pool with the ultra strong jets. The full body jet pool was broken which was a shame because I think it would have been my favourite. I got a body scrub, which was odd, but my skin felt so nice and soft afterwards, and Scott got a massage.

Spa lunch. We had kimchi stew and cold noodles with pollack. The noodles were soooo long you have to chop them up with scissors so you don’t choke, and the fish was super chewy because it is repeatedly frozen and dried (like 20 times!!) until all the cells explode. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I had known why the fish was so chewy before I ate it.

We also tried out the dry saunas in the common area. Some of them were SO FREAKING HOT and you had to crawl through a tiny door to get in, haha.

Rosemarie arrives!! We apply Korean sheet masks and trade gifts (Tina hoodie and Tim Tams for her, kawaiiiiiii treats for us).

The next day we went to approximately 900 different places around Seoul thanks to Jinnie and Leslie’s and many other people’s AWESOME recommendations. I’ll just post a few highlights.

Temple… ✔. Missed the changing of the guard and regretted not renting hanboks, rah.

Rooster, horse and tiger.

Good job Scott even getting the eyes right. :D A brief stop at the National Folk Museum.

Woohoo, second chance hanboks!! The Kimchi Museum had some that you could try on, so of course we took advantage and wore them the whole time at the museum. :)

Different types of kimchi. It was a decent museum, especially for only $5. We learned about the fermenting process, different types of kimchi, recipes, and even got to try a few samples.

Me and Ross at the poop fun centre (???)(didn’t actually pay to go in), Me and Mr. Donothing (my new spirit animal), Scott and his drinking buddy being #basic.

A really good lunch down a random alleyway. Spicy ramen tteokbokki (rice cakes) and gimbap (Korean version of sushi).

This is the only thing we saw on the whole trip about North Korea. Scott’s dad wanted a North Korean Olympic Team t-shirt but we couldn’t find anything like that at all! I suppose it’s not a joking matter.

At S Namsan Tower. Check out all those love locks!

Guess Rosemarie didn’t like it. :’)))

We didn’t go up the actual tower because the views from the top of the hill were already pretty great. Seoul is huge!! Check out that apartment density near the river!! This is the South view.

We stayed until sunset so we could see the twinkling city. North view!

We also did a brief tour of the printer and toner district of Seoul, a little shopping, ate BBQ, and let Rose win a game of Seven Wonders ;). BIG DAY!!