Damian Koh

Editor, producer, curator

Was technology reporter. Now hardwired to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Instagram, Vine, LinkedIn, social CRM & big data.

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Was technology reporter. Now permanently wired to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Instagram, Vine, LinkedIn, social CRM and big data. Singaporean living in Bundang, South Korea. Opinions expressed are my own and not my employer’s. Also contributor on The Korea Blog, an English-language blog run by Korea.net

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Ice fishing at Hwacheon Sancheoneo ice festival

Ice fishing. Yes, you heard that right. If fishing for trout in the middle of a river frozen over and braving sub-zero temperatures is up your alley, then you shouldn’t miss the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival (얼음나라 화천 산천어축제).

The festival takes place every January in Hwacheon, known for its fastest ice freezing due to the cold valley wind and clean water, in the Gangwon-do province. By car, it’s about a 2.5-hour drive from Seoul, so it makes for an easy day trip. Plan to be there early though since about 3 tons of fresh trout are emptied under the fishing site every day.

At the festival site, you need to purchase tickets (12,000 won if you’re 12 and above, and 8,000 won for foreigners) to the fishing sites. The price includes a plastic string bag to contain your catch and a 5,000 won coupon which you can use at the stores. A foldable stool would be a very wise investment as you could be at the fishing site for sometime.

Along the way, you’d be approached by enthusiastic ajummas egging you to buy fishing sticks/rods, which unless you already own one, you pretty much don’t have a choice. One will set you back 5,000 won. Rod, stool, bag. All set.

Picking a fishing spot can be a tough one, too. You have to decide if you want to be where the crowd is or a quieter area. And the first-timer in me obviously have no idea which is better. Once you pick a spot, or a hole, to be specific, you drop your line in and you wait.

And wait.

According to the organizers, one of the tricks is not to be fixated to one spot as swimming patterns of grouped trout changes as the day passes. The river is only about 2m deep and the water clear, so you can peer into the hole and see if the trouts are swimming past.

5 mins in: This is fun.

10 mins in: Hmm.. I’m not getting this.

15 mins in: Ok, this is getting boring.

20 mins in: I think I need to change spot.

25 mins in: Looks into the hole wondering where the fishes are.

40 mins in: Ok, I give up.

That pretty much sums it up. Patience is a virtue which I lack. Fortunately, for those who walked out with an empty bag, you can still buy trouts at the store, which can be barbecued or eaten sashimi style. Fresh catch are swiftly salted, wrapped in aluminum foil and placed in the brick oven tubes.

Steaming hot, piping fresh trout is absolutely heaven in sub-zero temperatures. The picture doesn’t do the taste justice.

Fishing on ice isn’t the only activity at the festival. There’s aplenty going on, from ice sledding to snow sculpture and zip-line to ice soccer, to keep everyone entertained.

The best part of the festival? Standing in the middle of the river imagining what it would be like if it wasn’t frozen over.

The Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival happens from Jan 4 to Jan 26, from 8:30AM to 6:00PM daily.

10 snowboarding safety tips

Snowboarding for the first time? Here are some safety rules you should keep in mind, so that you don’t endanger yourself and others on and off the slopes.

The 13/14 snowboard/ski season is finally in full swing, but before you hit the slopes, especially for first-timers or newbies, it’s pays to be aware of some safety rules so that you can enjoy the sport.

Equipment
1. Make sure that your bindings have a tight fit and are securely fastened to the board. A loose fit may cause you to twist your ankle.

2. Wear a helmet as that is the single most important equipment you should have aside from the board and bindings. It not only protects you from injuring your head if you fall, but also if other boarders run into you while you’re down. Most of your body heat is also lost through your head, so a helmet can help you stay warm too.

3. Snow goggles are also a good investment. The sun reflects off the snow and that could hurt your eyes. Plus, it’s also more fun if you’re not constantly squinting to see where you’re going.

4. If this is your first time, pads for your bum and knees are recommended as those are the areas which will most likely suffer the most on your initial runs.

Before riding
5. Do a little stretching to loosen and warm up your muscles. Work on the calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, shoulders.

6. Make sure you’re properly hydrated before and during rides. You may not notice it, but dehydration causes fatigue.

On the slopes
7. Pick the right slope appropriate for your level. Beginners should avoid intermediate and advanced runs as you may endanger not only yourself due to the steepness, but also other boarders who are riding at a much faster speed.

8. Look all around before you move off. You don’t want to cut into someone else’s path the moment you get up.

9. Give other moving riders in front of you the right of way. You can see them, but they cannot see you!

10. Don’t hang around at the foot of the slope to wait for your friends. Move away to the side instead, and never walk in the opposite direction of the slope to meet your friend who happens to be nearby.

Bear in mind these 10 basic rules, so that you have good fun!

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