To make the most of the icy weather, I traveled to Hwacheon in Gangwon-do for the winter ice fishing festival. For 8000won, you are given a little fishing line and can go out onto the frozen river, find a hole, and catch as many trout as you can. The whole day was really a lot of fun and a good break from the city.
As we approached the fishing area, we could see a huge crowd on the ice and it didn't look like there was much room. But luckily for us, a whole section was cordoned off for 'foreigners only', and we had a lot of space to ourselves. A man showed me how to fish: basically, keep pulling the line in and out of the water until it hooks onto a fish. There didn't seem to be much art to it.
Not relishing the thought of snagging some poor creature on a metal hook just for the fun of it, I gave up after a short while, but my friends kept on going. They didn't have much luck. All around, little kids were reeling in huge catches while my mates dejectedly continued dangling their fishing lines.
Finally, after I had given up waiting and gone for a latte break, one of my friends caught one, and we got it cooked for our lunch.
Of course, one fish didn't make a full meal for the three of us, but there were lots of places to eat everywhere, including food other than fish. After some mandoo and makgeoli I also filled up on some 산천어빵 (Hwacheon's version of 붕어빵). Ahhh, a full stomach is a good way to fight the cold.
My friend was crazy enough to try the bare hands fishing event. Remember, it's the middle of winter and literally FREEZING cold.
Of course, there were loads of other things to do, besides the fishing. How about a ride on a donkey?
Nothing says 'fun family event' in Korea better than a bunch of teenage girls in hotpants and crop-tops thrusting their hips along to a K-pop song.
And, of course, since the river is frozen over, why not take a spin on the ice in an ATV?
To end this post, I'll leave you with some words of wisdom quoted from the festival's official website:
"Very interesting with thrill. Wow, excited me! Whew, I'll get again."
"Rocking from side to side on the ice, falling with a bump! Sancheoneo festival! Oh, yeah!"
And can I say to the organisers of the festival, if you'd like someone who actually speaks English to re-word your website, I was going to offer my services but on second thoughts the current wording is just too hilarious to change.