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From Busan (or anywhere, I think) you will need to take a bus to Chuncheon and then to Hwacheon. From Busan it is about 5 hours and then to Hwacheon it is about 30 minutes. I think from Seoul it is about an hour to Chuncheon. Anyway, coming from Busan you can’t leave past 8pm. My friend and I tried going straight after work, getting to Nopo bus station at 840 with no luck. They said the first bus was at 730am and when we got there at 715 the next morning they were sold out until 840. We could have bought the 730 tickets the night before, but whenever I have bought bus or train tickets early I don’t wake up. And when I don’t buy the tickets in advance I wake up and the first bus is sold out. Oh well…thus is life in Korea where you can’t buy tickets online. And can’t buy them if you’re not in the city you’re buying from.

Hwacheon is a pretty small city, but throws a few festivals throughout the year, including one where you though tomatoes (I plan on coming back for that…). I’m pretty sure we walked around the whole city going along the river, so it can’t be that big. It does have Popeyes. Which I haven’t seen in Korea anywhere else.

We got there about 2pm on Saturday and left around noon on Sunday.

There are fish decorations all down the main street (N-S) and part way down another main street (E-W).

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There is also a giant bear to great you as you enter the city, but he has his back to the bus station so I couldn’t get a great picture of him. However he is the mascot for the town so he is pretty much everywhere.

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There were about 10,000 people fishing, would be my guess. We went back Sunday morning there was no one there.

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You can try to catch a fish with your bare hands, but that seemed a bit too cold for us. My hands were almost frozen just from walking around with gloves on (I always forget to move my fingers) so the idea of catching them wearing shorts and a T-shirt in cold water was not a fun idea. Most people but the fish in their shirts and pulled them out with their mouths. That’s too much.

Hwacheon Ice Festival 035 Hwacheon Ice Festival 038^^ Look how cold they are ^^

Then we found our foreigner only fishing area which did have Koreans in it! The staff there were super helpful and you can borrow the fishing rod from the foreigner only tent (which had Koreans blocking it the second time we tried to go in…I guess when they were told they could not go in they stood outside and tried to not let anyone in–that doesn’t work for me!) The staff will get the fish off your hook, put it in your bag, and put water in your bag too so the fish won’t die.

I didn’t catch any, but my friend caught two.

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We tried the fish both ways they were offered–grilled and fried.

Hwacheon Ice Festival 062 Hwacheon Ice Festival 065After that we headed to the kiddie area, called Snow Fun Park. They had a Snowmen Zone, Snow Snake Eolgomi Sled and Sledge Park. The Snowmen Zone made me think of that photo that was going around awhile ago with the caption ‘snowmen gather to protest global warming’. They were all made by kids and parents.

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The Snow Snake Eolgomi Sled and Sledge Park were closed when we went on Saturday, but we did them on Sunday, after the 4-wheel-bike/ATV on ice. The 4-wheel-bike had a ticket office next to it saying 5,000 but we were charged 10,000 per bike so the two of us went on one. We switched part-way though, and were too cold to finish the 10 minutes allotted because we could not move our fingers while driving and they started to freeze. They let us go into their warming area with their heater though! It was a lot of fun sliding around on the ice in the ATV. The Sledge Park was a hill where you were given inner tubes to go down. When I asked if I could go backwards the guy at the top said ‘Ummm….yeah….you’re brave’ but I figured since I always spun around halfway down the hill anyway I would do it this time too. Wrong. Went backwards the whole way which was still fun. After that he spun me and I said to my friend ‘you should try it!’ but she did not hear me, and when I stood up I automatically said ‘I’m gonna throw up’ because I was so dizzy but still told her to try it, leading to the best quote of the weekend:

“I’m gonna throw up. You should try it!”

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The Snow Snake Eolgomi Sled was interesting….it is two kayaks tied together which are tied in the front to a cable that goes back and forth and you do an oval around it. At one point we flew out of the oval track because we did not weigh enough and my kayak got pushed back in but my friends did not and she had to wait till we were going fast enough to go back in! She was basically vertical until she went back it. It was tons of fun! I screamed and laughed the whole time.

Hwacheon Ice Festival 195After that we tried to go fishing again but we were told that we would have to buy the pole and such as there were SO MANY RESERVATIONS. We were surprised as no one was on the ice and we were the only foreigners around. Then we just went to see if we could get sashimi without bringing a fish which was 12,000 including the vegetables. (Otherwise 5,000 for the pole, 8,000 entry that we paid the day before and lasts a week, 2,000 for preparation, and 2,000 for vegetables totaling 17,000, or 9,000 if you take off the entry since that was paid the day before and we already caught 2 fish the day before). Good deal. It was pretty good, I still liked grilled the best. I’ll be off fish again for awhile (we’ll see how long that lasts i Korea…)

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After we tried the sweet food they had: grilled rice cake on a stick with honey. Pretty good, but still not as sweet as my American taste-buds would like. I liked it more than I though I would have though.

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As for the night….

There is a World Winter Cities Plaza which probably would have been better during the day, but we ended up there at dusk. The 3D art area was really small so we did not want to pay 5,000 entry. There was also a 4D ride which had a huge line filled with children, so I guess it was more for them. The Tea Event is what we really went to this Plaza for, but if there was tea to be given out it was no longer there at 6pm. There were outfits from different countries you could try on and pose with though–we did not because, well, what does that have to do with tea?

We then walked to Hope Lights Plaza which is a tower with an ice skating rink next to it. There were some people preforming at first, and later anyone was allowed on.

The Ice Illumination Plaza is where the ice sculpture were and they were huge! I’ve seen ice sculpture before but never this big! The was a Zodiac calendar, Terracotta Warriors, Andong Masks, statues and palaces from Seoul, the Taj Mahal, an Igloo, a dragon chair, the Sydney Opera house and so much more.

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