I had a FABULOUS Saturday in Korea this past week, thanks in large part to the great folks over at the Korea Tourism Organization. A large group of foreigners were asked to participate in a tour to the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, as well as various cultural experiences and I was very happy to participate. True to from, I snapped quite a few photos (give them time to load!) and will try to give you a good run down of the day, so sit back and relax for a slightly longer blog post.
I started out early and treated myself to a quick coffee and donut at the newly opened Krispy Kreme around the corner by Namyeong Station - look at these tempting, sugary delights! I had a simple glazed, since I was headed to the subway, but I think I'll have to go back eventually. ;)
As I exited the train at Jonggak Station (Exit 5), I noticed this informative display about Korean bells - beautiful craftsmanship.
I headed over to the main headquarters of the Korea Tourism Organization, just across from the Chenggyecheon Stream. The main entrance is actually in the plaza and leads under the building.
Inside there are displays about K-Pop, Medical Tourism (a HUGE market for that here), Korean culture, and a gift shop.
For those who live in or visit Seoul, they offer FREE Korean Cultural Experience event during the third week of each month featuring Korean crafts and wearing Hanbok.
After checking in, I had some extra time and found more interesting art along the street.
Snow White and a Dwarf, among pinwheels...in front of a seafood restaurant?
A duck boat...
The Chenggyecheon Stream starts nearby, so I headed over for a relaxing walk along this popular reclaimed stream in the heart of the city. I walked the portion by the red "You Are Here" bubble on this map.
I had a visitor land nearby as I strolled.
I happened upon this spot on the trail and tossed in a 100 won coin for good measure - it landed squarely in the center of the target and earned "oohs" from those nearby.
The art didn't stop on the street - the walls beneath the overpasses were adorned, as well.
It was also interesting to note the escape ladders and warnings along the way...glad it wasn't raining!
And because Koreans love their technology, there's a free standing charging pad for wireless devices...but only at night.
I'll have to bring Michael back here at some point and test out his rock hopping skills.
I made it across safely. :)
As I headed back up to street level, a random parade was going by for a nearby street festival.
The musicians were happy to pose for me (most of them).
Finally it was time to board the tour bus (what a full morning, already!) and head over to the Asian Games. The three seal mascots are adorable and each have a meaning:
Vichuon = light; Chumuro = dance; and Barame = wind.
The main stadium is quite impressive.
While on the bus, we were treated to a quick lunch of kimbap.
Our first stop was at an outer stadium for a popular Asian sport know as sepaktakraw.
As you can see from the below action shot, this is not a game for anyone who is out of shape - it's a mix of volleyball and soccer, with some aerial antics thrown in for good measure.
I managed to get a pretty good video clip of the Men's Korea vs. Singapore match - there's the usual serve, bump, set, and spike - but all done with their feet! As the audio will tell, it gets exciting.
After watching a few exciting matches, we headed over to the main stadium and expo area, for some fun with the mascots, a trip to the gift shop (couldn't come home without some game swag!), and some cultural workshops.
In case you really wanted the athletic experience, the water vending machines had you covered.
My little group headed into the cultural experience tent for some hands-on fun, making mandu (Korean dumplings).
I had enough left for a tasty snack on the ride home.
There were also displays of temple food and kitchen spaces.
And this lovely paper lantern.
Outside in the plaza, there were these random newspaper dinosaurs - which thrilled most adults and terrified the small kids they crept up to. Pretty funny - I think Michael MIGHT have liked them.
After a full day, it was dinner time - dakgalbi while seated on the floor.
I was happy with the spicy chicken meal - and glad I didn't have to try one of these guys!
Finally, we ended the night with a 30-minute outdoor performance of Nanta at the stadium. A fun Korean-Performance show centered around cooking and rhythm.
What a great day! Such a variety of things seen/done and one for the memory book!
Thank you, KTO!
picture courtesy of KTO