Day 7: Saturday 18th April 2016
Insadong day. Anyone familiar with South Korea will know about Insadong where Traditional Korea meets modern Korea.
We travelled by foot from the Apartment in Gyeongbokgung, a good twenty minutes, probably quicker if the wife didn’t want to gaze at every damn shop we passed. On the way we passed a Buddhism site that was still getting set up with many lanterns been hung up, for an upcoming festival, and hall full of Buddhist statues where followers came to prey, another good phot opportunity. While South Korea is generally a multi-religion country, Buddhism still stands as number one.
Next stop Insadong, it’s not my first time here and while many of its features are modern, it still shows of its traditional displays. In a way it is Insadong is one long strip of road that is meant for pedestrians but don’t fooled you still need to dodge the odd van or two, with shops such as souvenirs shops and hanbok shops (traditional Korean dress), along with cafes and many tea shops for refreshment. But it still had its mixture of modern shops and restaurants.
From twelve-thirty in the afternoon a big parade featuring traditional Korean music in traditional dress began at one end marched through the street before putting on a long dance feature at the end where they started. Now get this, we saw the parade begin, it looked good, we wandered off got lunch as they danced down the road and following lunch the parade of dancers was back in the original spot putting on a show. These people performed non-stop for an hour and a half, full on singing and dancing and inviting the crowd to join in. It was a fun performance and one we were happy to stick around to see.
Later that day the rain came down and we nestled ourselves in the apartment all be it for half an hour when I tried to take the kids for dinner at fast food chai called Lotteria, really it is just like McDonalds and Burger King, except for a few Korean additions.
Day 8: Sunday 17th April
The day I was looking forward to most, my first Korean baseball game or any baseball game for that matter, at the Jamsil Baseball Stadium, the major stadium in Seoul that is situated right outside the Olympic Park.
We slept in, took the morning easy and headed out to the stadium late morning, being a Sunday the game was slated for a two in afternoon start. Getting off at the Sports Complex station on subway line 2, we were hit with a carnival of activity outside the stadium, food stalls, merchandise and chanting supporters all eager the clash and on this occasion and it was the home team Doosan Bears taking on the Samsung Lions.
I went to the game thinking I would support The Bears but as soon as I saw the Lions strip I bought a Guernsey, I couldn’t resist the royal blue and white colours.
Upon entering the stadium, I am awe struck, personally there is nothing better as an avid sports fan than entering a sporting stadium and Jamsil did not disappoint, the large stadium backdrop that seems to reach for the sky and shadow the infield area and home plate before lowering around the green seated area of the outfield, with a large screen visible for the whole stadium to see. A wonderful sight indeed.
The game atmosphere was electric with opposing team making as much noise as the home supporters, alternating their turn to cheer on their team depending on who was batting, with the crowd announcer in full voice and the cheer leaders dazzling, what was happening in the stands was more entertaining than the game and I am not saying the game itself was dull. It wasn’t. For the record Doosan Bears won with ease.
After three hours of fun, it was time to head home. A late dinner out that night, at a Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Roi in the Gyeongbokgung area, it was pretty good with a beef soup, and a pork dish and a few prawn wraps, and it rounded off a good day that was occupied with my sports fix.
Oh how I missed it.
Day 9: Monday 18th April
A not much day really, it was well and truly due. After breakfast we had a short train trip to Myeongdong, another spectacle of this great country, best way to describe it is an outdoor shopping centre that has all the large chains, either being clothing, sporting goods, skin care, plenty of shoes and of course food outlets. A perfect place to for the shopaholics.
As I said a quiet day today, although Myeongdong was a highlight in itself, we rested up in the apartment with some take away Korean food, ahead of what is going to be a busy tomorrow and I mean busy.