Tag Archives: sports

Four months and counting.

20 Jun

Today marks four months that I’ve been in Korea (okay, yesterday, but I didn’t finish this post in time). For the curious, the only person who has sent me something in the post has been my mother. Where are my Crunchies and packets of strawberry laces, people?

Ahem.

This last weekend was one of the best I’ve had in Busan. It wasn’t perfect – I’ll plot my perfect weekend for you all soon, I’m sure – but it was pretty close. Let me explain.

Friday lunchtime – I’ve now finished classes for the day. Afternoon classes are cancelled one Friday a month so the students can spend the afternoon on their “club activities”. These seem to be as varied as visiting museums, practising traditional drumming, or learning Japanese. I join my contact teacher and her group – the bowling club. I spend the afternoon at a bowling alley entirely populated by students from my school (there are three or four bowling clubs in total) where I bowl with some of the girls who offer tips, and share celebratory cookies. When you’re sucking at something in Korea, people will raise their fists to you and say “fighting!” in encouragement. A lot of that happens. The girls also teach me how to say “well done!” and we accompany this with high-fives. Bowling club is awesome.

Friday evening – I head to the cinema in Nampo-dong, my nearest “centre” of the city (Nampo-dong is the old town, crammed with shops, cafes, restaurants and bars) to see Prometheus. The film is so unexpectedly and probably unintentionally weird and confusing that when it finishes, the audience bursts into spontaneous, confused laughter. Luckily I’m with a fellow geek, so we spend the evening dissecting the mess before moving on to other, equally geeky subjects (if you were going to reboot the X-Men film series, and do it right, what would you do? Is Once Upon A Time any good, even if it is feminist friendly? Does everyone worth caring about die in A Song of Ice and Fire?). We go home when we realise that it’s nearly 4am.

Saturday – I roll out of bed at 11am to stuff down a bagel before heading over to the Boys Town orphanage. I don’t know what you imagine when you read the word “orphanage” but my mind goes to a very Dickensian place. It’s always reassuring then to arrive and see kids playing on a Wii in the entrance lobby. The building has a hospital/school vibe – vaguely institutional, but not forbidding or intimidating.

Photo from Laura Teague

I join the group of younger boys (elementary school age) who are doing arts and crafts. Today we’re making shapes out of pipe cleaners. Some of the boys are very shy about speaking to foreign women, but most enjoy playing with us after a while. The kids confiscate smart phones and cameras and run around taking photos of each other. Later the visitors produce sweets and a feeding frenzy takes place – the orphans don’t get access to that much of these kinds of treats, so they get very excited about snack time.

Photo from Laura Teague

Sunday – I went to explore the UN Cemetery and the Peace Park, and the Busan Museum. The UN Memorial is a very peaceful place, dedicated to the memory of the UN troops who fought and died in the Korean war, a war which is officially still ongoing. The accompanying park is filled with families enjoying the sunshine. A stroll around was the perfect way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon, and made me feel that I’d really managed to accomplish something cultural with my weekend for a change!

So there you go, my awesome weekend. Now I just have to find a way to match it again in a few days time!

Advertisements

If you build it, they will come…

27 Mar

Take me out to the ball game.

I can be forgiven for using this stupid cliché in a blog post about a baseball game, because I’m British and we don’t have baseball at home. In fact, I should be applauded for resisting the urge to refer to a baseball game as a “match” (which I’m reliably informed by my American friends is, in fact, stupid).

British people think that we get American culture, because we get so much of it imported. American brands, American TV shows and with them American slang, games, customs, values and sports. I know a surprising amount about baseball from US teen comedies and their references to “bases”, and the film Field of Dreams. What I don’t get, is why a jumped up version of rounders played by men in striped pyjamas generates such emotion in fans. Then again, I don’t understand that about football, either.

Baseball is big in Korea, and even bigger in Busan which is home to the Lotte Giants, who are supposedly South Korea’s number one baseball team. This Saturday, before the league starts, I went along to Sajik stadium to watch an exhibition game (a friendly, I suppose).

Sajik stadium

It was pretty good fun! The game is easy to understand on a basic level, although I’m sure I was missing some of the tactics. It was relatively slow to get going, but the crowd even for the free exhibition game was lively. There were chants to join in on (okay, make up the words to) and several groups of students even had pom poms and dance moves worked out. Seeing as you can bring your own beers into the stadium, I think that going back to watch an actual league game would be really good fun.

The rest of my weekend was pretty relaxed. I spent Sunday afternoon in Nampodong browsing the shops (but not actually buying much because I don’t have access to my bank account from an ATM at the moment) and sampling some street food.

Noms!

The red stuff is a kind of rice doughy dumpling thing. Maybe. The sauce is pretty spicy. It’s tasty! My favourites are the small dumplings (mandu in Korean) on the left and the sping onion pancake thing on the right, which is delicious with some soy sauce. Om nom nom! 

%d bloggers like this: