Dec 2, 2008

Local ski trip

Free ski trip!

It's the start of the ski season for the small resorts around the Beijing suburbs. Over the weekend, we signed up for an almost-free trip to a place called Yuyang ski resort. The only thing we had to pay for was the chartered bus out and back, around eight bucks per person.

Entry to the ski resort was gratis, as was rental equipment, both skis and snowboards. The only trade off was that since it had just started to cool down in Beijing, the resort had only created snow for about one-fourth of the resort. The only two runs open were two bunny hills, serviced by a few T-bar lifts.

Below: Here's our group from the bus, with the bunny hill in the background



Despite the small area to ski on, it was still pretty fun. I got to play around on a snowboard and get the feel of it again, which I haven't done for a couple years. Midway through the day I switched over to skis so I could play ski instructor for my girlfriend, which was rather fun. I think that after this second time skiing, she can probably go on a few blue trails without too much trouble.

Quick review of the ski resort

The resort has surprisingly good food and service. They have a nice dining area with lots of plants and small courtyard rooms. They even request that you remove your ski boots before entering the dining area, which avoids the problem of soggy floors.

Outside on the bunny hills, a team of orange-jacketed workers lined the side of the slopes. Whenever a novice skier -- and ninety percent of them are novice skiers -- wiped out and ate snow, a worker or two would run over from the side and help them up. That would have been nice to have when I was learning to ski. It gets tiring trying to get up over and over again after falling.

My only small complaint about this resort was that they didn't have even one scrap of toilet paper in the men's room of the main ski lodge. Upon realizing that there was no toilet paper in the men's room, I went outside the bathroom to look for some. "You can buy some tissue paper over at the little store," one resort worker told me. I wasn't going to walk two hundred yards and pay extra for something that should be part of any properly-stocked bathroom.

So I started fishing around in the recyclable and non-recyclable garbage bins outside the men's room. A young Chinese man walked by and asked me what I was looking for. In Chinese, I replied to him, "I need to find some newspaper or something. I'll need to wipe myself after I use the bathroom." He looked at me like I was crazy, and walked away quickly. What's so crazy about wanting to clean yourself up after a trip to the squat toilet?


Below: drawing of the ski resort




Interesting facts about skiing in China

You might be thinking to yourself, "Skiing in China sounds pretty good, as long as you remember to bring your own toilet paper." Well, there's one more aspect you need to get used to, which is something you have to adjust to almost everywhere in China. When lining up at the lifts, the resort-goers ball up and shove to get on in the same way that they would push to get on a public bus. Here's an illustration to help you visualize it:




People literally push and shove the whole time like they really are giving away gold coins at the front of the line.

Below: If you look down at the ground as your lining up for the ski lift, you'll see something like this:



Yes, it's perfectly acceptable to walk all over other folks' skis and snowboards, with complete disregard for scuffing up or otherwise damaging others' property. Remember this fact if you ever consider bringing your personal ski equipment along with you. For this reason using rental equipment is highly recommended.

Wrap-up

All in all, skiing in China can be a lot of fun. It's true, you might need to endure some minor groping and goosing as you wait in the lift lines, but it's all in good fun. When the day's over, though, you'll have enjoyed yourself and you'll be back out on the slopes again to do it all over.


Below: Happy campers on the bus on the road back to Beijing




For your further amusement, here's another posting I did a while back on Chinese ski resorts.

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