Friday, December 30, 2005

Skier chez Argentière

Heya, hope all of you all had a good Christmas! I survived skiing and the crazy Boxing day sale, so be prepared for a LONGG post. I just got back from a week of skiing in Argentière, France, and it was FUN FUN FUN! Going with such a large group made it even more exciting when we met other students from Oxford, Bath, Manchester and Citi University on the same trip.

Argentière is situated 8km above Chamonix, a charming and quaint village at 1250m. It's at the heart of the Mont Blanc alpine area in the French Alps, which is the highest mountain in western Europe at 4808m above sea level!

We stayed with UCPA Argentière, and it was already snowing when we first arrived, marking a crazy start to the holiday with snowball fights... :) Here's a snapshot taken from the balcony of our hostel, just like a fairy tale snow kingdom, don't you think? The court you see in the picture is an ice skating rink :D

Upon arrival, we had the day off as we arrived in the afternoon. Hence, we went to Chamonix town to search for lunch. It's strange when all restaurants or food outlets closes after 2pm or so, when nowadays people's eating patterns changed drastically probably due to different sleeping habits. We were adviced to go to Chamonix as there is a McDonald's there apparently, and they don't close all day (obviously). Talk about globalization, I still find the idea of a McD's on the alps unbelievable... Here are some pics we took, and 2 monkeys called Herman and Grace jumpin' in the air of snow ;P

At Chamonix, most of us opted for the ideal lunch menu, crêpe! I definitely had chocolate overdose that day as I shared both the crêpe with chocolate, ice cream and whipped cream + chocolate sponge with custard with a friend. Variety is after all, the spice of life ... =P

Anyways, after that we explored the lil' town and I found something amusing ... But one question first, 'What do you get on Nutella's 40th anniversary?' To keep you in suspense, I shall only tell you the answer at the end of this post. =P No cheating! Give yourself 3 tries only!

Next few days were basically skiing with an instructor. Wee Ben, Hong Hsien, Josephine and I were in the same group with a few other French students and 2 Brits who had initial skiing experiences. Think the highlight of the trip was when I/we accidentally skiied down a black slope... TWICE. It's a long story...

The first time occured when we were directed to go back ourselves by the ski instructor Laurent, when he had to search for one of the members who went missing at La Flegere. Daredevil Wee Ben, who led the team back, happened to have a bad sense of direction, and just took whichever slope that seems to lead downwards. Lisa (one of the Brits) and I began to notice something amiss as the slope we were skiiing seemed narrow, winding and a little too difficult for a blue slope. For your info, ski slopes are rated according to difficulty, green/blue/red/black in ascending order of difficulty. I looked for signs and noticed 'Le Praz' in BLACK, which is basically a slope for pro skiiers. *Sweat* LOL. We looked at each other, stunned. Oh heck, there's no other way down and we were already halfway down the 5km slope. So off we skiied and were knackered by the end of the journey, and no one knew it was a black till we told them at the bottom of the slope! Lisa calls Wee Ben a lunatic from then on, but it feels good to finally do a black one, it wasn't too bad and the adrenaline rush was worth it ;)

Second time was on Wednesday where we had half day off and most of us went to ski at La Flegere again. It was just Wee Ben and I as it was easier to ski in smaller groups and we lost Josephine midway as she turned into another direction and we couldn't locate her. So being a 'blur sotong' who followed a bigger 'blur sotong', both of us tried a new red slope, which probably was a big mistake as it was an ungroomed red slope, i.e. a black equivalent. >_< bumpy rocks all the way. It took us almost 2 hours because it was quite scary. I crashed infinite times with skis flying, hence spent almost an hour to wear my skis on a slope and not losing my balance. Quite a creepy experience, and it was a very tiring one as we had to brake non-stop as it was steep and bumpy. But yeap we survived it again and this was a more satisfying experience than the last. Moral of the story: do not follow most ski routes that Wee Ben takes, LOL ;D

So days just breezed pass, like all happy days always do. We played Bridge almost every night and other board games, I learnt how to (sort of) play contract bridge too! Very interesting... On the last day, we all went sight seeing and take pics of Mont Blanc. Taking the cable car up from Aiguille Du Midi, it was FREEZING cold at -30 Celcius with strong winds. Only managed to take a few shots before my fingers became frozen ladies fingers :P But it was really beautiful, and we saw Mont Blanc too, misty and mysterious, from a distance away.

So that's the summary about the ski trip, enjoy the pictures!

P.S- By the way, the answer to the Nutella question was even MORE Nutella!

I think this was probably 4kg or something, forgot to check the weight. ;)

Anyways, have a Happy New Year everyone!

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