Not your Grandpa’s outdoors

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Not your Grandpa’s outdoors

Enjoying the outdoors on the weekend is a must during the summer. For those who require more than a stroll in the park to get the blood pumping, there are some sports quickly gaining in popularity in Korea. Carve boarding, karting, docky and sport kiting are winning admirers all over the country.

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Snowboarding, surfing all in one board

Carveboarding ― a happy medium
Snowboarders and surfers mutually created the carveboard to get a year-round fix. Top riders from each sport spent six years researching and experimenting the best way to simulate surfing and snowboarding at the same time. What they came up with looks like a skateboard with four wheels.
What it lacks in inspiration, however, it makes up for in fun. The basics of riding a carveboard are identical to that of a snowboard or surfboard. Unlike a skateboard, coils are mounted between the board and wheels to allow riders to form their turns, which is called “carving.”
It’s possible to push a carveboard around a flat surface all day, but also quite boring; this sport is best enjoyed with a bit of vertical. The only corresponding drawback is having to lug the board back up the hill. The most popular venue for carveboarders in Seoul is the World Cup Park in Sangam-dong in the western part of the city.
Some carve clubs offer free lessons for beginners: mfclub.joins.com/board.
Carveboarding equipment can be purchased at Inno Sports (017-741-1871), Web site: www.carveboard.co.kr or Virus Shop’s (02-3444- 1544) Web site: www.virussports.com

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This hobby takes kites to new heights

Sports kite ― soaring through the sky
For some people there is nothing better than a beautiful summer sky filled with soaring kites. Such people spend their free time flying sport kites in open spaces around the nation. These kites are not the typical reelwind variety. Sports kites are much faster.
Sports kites, which originated in Europe and the United States, are larger than traditional Korean kites and thus more yielding to winds. People say this makes them more exciting. Sport kites can rotate 360-degrees and turn on a dime in midair. It may appear headed for a crash landing but then stop suddenly and spin like a propeller.
Sport kites are divided into “stunt kites,” which require special techniques, and “power kites,” which are more sensitive to wind.
Surfers can also enjoy “kite boarding,” which involves flying a sport kite while riding a surfboard. Kite boarding can be enjoyed in the sand banks at Hwaseong, Anmyeon island in the Yellow Sea, or the beach in Asan gulf and pier near Jamsil, eastern Seoul.
There are around 200 sport kite fans in the country. It helps to have some money, however. Kites cost 100,000 to 300,000 won. They have two or four strings (four strings are better for beginners). A kite board goes for around 1 million won.
The Korea Sports Club (016-237-2560) offers free lessons: www.sportkite.or.kr
Ttukseom Gaastra Kite (www.hiwind.co.kr, 02-455-6761) as well as Kite Love (www.kitelove.co.kr) offer lessons. Two to three weeks of training costs 400,000 won to 700,000 won.
Sport kites can be purchased at Kite Seven (www.kite7.com, 031-768-5770).

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This jaunt will likely require lifejackets

Docky ― dynamic rafting
The Naerin-cheon stream in Inje, Gangwon province, is the center of whitewater rafting when it comes to Korea. But in the middle of several rafting boats navigating the fast streams is a small rubber boat manned by only two people.
It’s nicknamed docky. The name was coined as a reference to how it looks like a duck swimming, but to the rider’s relief, it goes much faster than a duck.
Dockying is a combination of rafting, kayaking and canoeing. Officially, the sport is called inflatable kayaking.
Unlike a raft, which 10 people can ride at once, only one or two people can fit into a docky. It is easy to maneuver, and unlike a raft, a docky can easily change direction.
In addition to riding on fast-moving streams, a docky can be used at the beach or in lakes and rivers. It’s versatility makes dockying one of the most fun paddling sports. When deflated, it can be easily carried in a truck or backpack.
At Narin-cheon stream in Inje there are five or six places where you can rent a docky. The basic course runs 18 kilometers (11 miles) from Gungdong down through the Gosari resting place.
Beginners must have a 30-minute safety briefing before riding. One ride costs 40,000 won. Some docky rental places are Songgang Canoe School, (033) 461-1659, and Hanbaek Leisure, (033) 431-5033.
At least two days of training is required before going solo. This includes learning how to use a paddle alone as well as with others in the docky, changing direction and navigating fast streams. The two-day training costs 150,000 won, which includes four meals.

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Your own Grand Prix, on a smaller scale

Kart ― speed thrills
Driving a kart is all about the speed. Drivers can reach top speeds of 50 kilometers (32 miles) per hour, and if you have the wind hitting your face, it can feel twice as fast. Things are kept simple, no gearshift here, just a brake and accelerator.
The gap between the ground and the cart is only about 3 centimeters (1.18 inches), making for a stable ride. Because the steering wheel is sensitive, drivers need to be careful when making turns; any overzealousness with the wheel and you might crash into another kart.
Those 12 years or older can drive a kart after a five-minute lesson. There are special racing karts for those who want to go even faster.
Everland amusement park in Yongin, Gyeonggi province, is a popular racing track in the Seoul area, and several racing tracks around the country rent out karts.
Venues include Everland Speedway (031-320-8987), Hwaseong Kartvill (031-227-7020) and Paju Kartland (031-944-9736). A one-seat kart is 20,000 won ($17) per 10 minutes; two-seat kart, 25,000 won.


by Kim Jong-hag
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