It’s just too hot. A heat wave warning was issued for the first time in Seoul this week and the heat wave is likely to scorch the country for a few more weeks. However, there is an escape. Try these extremely cool ideas for chilling out during the dog days of summer.
Ice Gallery, the world’s first indoor gallery exclusively for ice sculptures, is in Seoul. Located across Jeongdok Library in Hwa-dong near Samcheong-dong, Ice Gallery offers visitors an extreme experience in resisting the cold. The underground gallery is a giant refrigerator that is kept under minus 5 degrees Celsius all year round to prevent the ice sculptures from melting and also to help visitors cool down.
At the entrance of the gallery, the staff recommended that guests put on a winter coat or jacket available for free. People were reluctant to wear them, but one second after the staff opened the door to the gallery, they realized it was necessary. It was freezing!
“I never imagined I could experience the winter cold in the middle of summer. It is much more freezing down here than I expected but enough to have fun,” said Lim Seung-eun, 22, accompanied by her date, Kim Sung-gil.
The couple, taking pictures in front of ice sculptures carved in different themes, told The Korea Herald that they will post the picture on the Facebook to tell their friends that they are in the coolest place in the world.
|A couple enters Ice Gallery, the world’s first indoor exhibition for ice sculptures, in Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)|
Well-known ice sculpture artist Lee Won-taek designed and opened the gallery three years ago to offer people a chance to appreciate ice art all year round. In the 80-square-meter space, the gallery displays ice replicas of Korean heritages including Sungryemun, Bukchon Hanok Village, Dabotap and other fun ice sculptures like an igloo, ice slide and ice bar.
It takes less than 10 or 15 minutes to look around, not because there is not much to see but because it is too frigid.
“It was cold but I would like to come again because kids loved it,” said Lee Hyun-bok who brought her two daughters.
The gallery also offers visitors a chance to create their own cups made of ice. Although they can’t carry it home, it will help them understand the art of ice carving and that is not as dangerous as people usually think, a staff said.
Entrance fee is 7,000 won and do-it-yourself ice carving is available for 5,000 won. For more information, visit www.icegallery.co.kr or call (02) 737-8830.
The seven-story Dragon Hill Spa & Resort in Yongsan, central Seoul, offers different types of healing rooms, mostly heated to high temperature to induce perspiration considered good for detoxifying the body. An exception is the “ice room.” Also known as the “natural refrigerator,” the room has its origins in the Joseon period ice storage rooms.
Visitors may feel the cool and fresh breeze immediately upon entering, and by cooling down the muscles that have become warm, the chilly room helps the body balance its temperature. Also, the room maintains a temperature of minus 2 to minus 4 degrees Celsius, which tightens the pores of the skin and the blood vessels, and thereby improves skin conditions and boosts the immune system, said Sang Hyun-koo, publicist for Dragon Hill Spa. With a cup of “sikhye”or sweet rice drink from the snack bar located right by the entrance, the ice room can be the best place to escape the sweltering summer heat.
The spa also has a 1.2-meter-deep outdoor swimming pool on the first floor. The pool is open from 9 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and Sundays. On Saturdays, the pool is open 24 hours.
The rooftop is another great facility for people stressed out from the hot weather. The Sky Garden, located on the sixth floor, has a large screen monitor which shows movies as well as the Olympic Games. Enjoy fried chicken and ice-cold beer at the rooftop restaurant while watching.
The entrance fee ranges from 10,000 won to 12,000 won. For more information, visit www.dragonhillspa.co.kr or call (02) 792-0001.
Indoor ski slopes
It is almost impossible to stay indoors with the air conditioner humming all day long when you have kids. Let them relieve their stress by enjoying winter sports at Woongin Snowdoci, the country’s only indoor snow dome. Even though it doesn’t have the elevation of a real mountain, it does offer different types of slopes from beginner to advanced level. For kids on summer vacation, the mega-sized playground’s “Snow City” features a giant igloo. Inside the igloo, kids will have a chance to learn what the life in the Arctic is like. Tickets for “Snow City” range from 12,000 won to 14,000 won while ticket for the indoor slope is priced from 19,000 won to 45,000 won.
For more information, visit www.playdoci.com or call 1577-5773.
Lotte World, an indoor and outdoor amusement park, also offers a day with snow flakes. It operates 40 snow machines and giant fans to create a scene of powdery snow flurrying just like in the winter time. For the first time, this year Lotte World presents a 7-meter “Snow Ball” where families can take photos with their hands shivering in the cold.
For more information, call (02) 411-2000.
By Cho Chung-un and Lee Hyun-jae