Don’t get concerned, and I am not about to start singing Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. I will need a few more drinks before I start singing. But the song does remind me of my one and only Christmas in the magic of snow.
I remember it as it was yesterday. The first white Christmas happened in Muju-Gun, a town in the central part of South Korea and it was simply breathtaking, bringing a whole new meaning to Christmas. At least for myself and family.
Why does a White Christmas mean so much?
I am an Aussie, and that means Christmas is snags on a barbie, beer out in the esky, swimming at the beach as the melting sun scorches your skin and you are dressing down rather than rugging up. Yes, Christmas in Australia doesn’t sound so bad, it’s great to be truthful. But you know the saying, a change is as good as a holiday.
Now I am not a winter fan; I despise it. The part of Australia that I live in during winter time, of course, gets cold, wet, windy and just plain old-miserable. But it doesn’t snow, and to me, the snow adds something extra to an occasion like winter, an added tinge of excitement, even happiness. I know that was my feelings for my family and me.
Others who live in such a climate may tell me I am crazy; perhaps you are sick of the snow, sick of the cold and maybe you have the endeavour of having Christmas in the heat of summer. Not me, however, how I would long for another White Christmas.
What is about Muju?
Muju was something special. Tucked away in the middle of South Korea, the scenery was divine. Mountains saturated the region with blissful white snow covering the peaks. It was a site to see.
The township was friendly, laid back and unique. It didn’t come with the hustle and bustle of the capital city in Seoul or the modern features. It had a small town feel about it, where all the locals knew each other, and everyone wasn’t in a hurry.
Old ladies would stand in front of their restaurants, willing people to come and eat at their shop, almost begging. The town itself offered plenty of little guesthouses, restaurants, ski shop and general stores.
Hiking is the number one thing to do in Muju along with skiing in the winter. And for a good reason too. The breathtaking scenery as you slug your way through the thick snow, into the forest, up to the mountain and along the valley was pure delight. Make sure you bring your camera as a million pictures wouldn’t be enough in Muju.
Your only sense of modern in Muju is the Deogyusan Resort. A European style resorts it is where you go for the ski slopes, fine dining and your only escape of Western food, not that you particularly need it when Korean food is so good. The resort is expensive, but if you like being where the action is, you will be in the right place.
Christmas time in Muju?
It is different. You could easily be forgiven that Christmas doesn’t exist. There is a little celebration going on in the township and decoration are limited. Still, it didn’t take away from the romance of a very merry White Christmas.
How could it? Everything was white, from mountain tops to the trees, to the railings and houses. Then you add the enjoyment of making a snowman with the kids and of course snowball fights, it brings family fun goes to another level — the only type of fun you can only enjoy when snow is involved.
If you do want a little Christmas touch, all you need to do is head to the resort. Decorations are on show, and at night the resort is well and truly lit up and looking spectacular in its Christmas lights. Carols can be heard throughout the resort, belting out popular Christmas carols, whether it is in Korean or English, it doesn’t matter you still know the song and sing to the tune.
Now maybe other regions in the world do their White Christmas with a little bit more passion. I am sure it is the case. But it won’t stop me from having an unusual attraction towards Muju and my only ever Christmas in the cold snow.
I wish you a very Merry Christmas to all you travellers, from your Fair Dinkum Traveller.