Day 88, 89 and 90: Seoul

Seoul is really big. In Sydney we only have a few handfuls of big buildings placed evenly from each other. The rest of the city is pretty much all suburbia. I like to imagine each of the small clusters of metropolis as stepping stones for some kind of commercial titans. There are no stepping stones in Seoul. The titans can go wherever the hell the want – the metropolis doesn’t end. The skyline’s as full as a field of grass. It’s massive everywhere.

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One of the great things that comes with such massiveness is opportunity. People and their business are so closely packed in together that every interest is represented and respected some where.

For me that means I can enjoy a rare spectacle.

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eSports – or professional video gaming for the screen-shy. It’s been a long time hobby of mine* and tonight I finally got to see its heart.

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Jae, a young Korean guy who, like me, is into football and eSports, took me to the GOMTV studio to watch some Starcraft matches.

Starcraft used to be massive here. The games were on tv everyday, the finals were shown in stadiums and everyone knew the name of their favorite player. It’s since been overtaken by newer and easier games but it’s still got a place in my, and many Koreans’ hearts. I’ve been watching it online for a few years and this was my first chance to see the best players play live. I loved it. I cheered, drank energy drinks, made signs and oogled at the celebs like a proud dog.

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The players are much closer and accessible than athletes from conventional sports. You can hear them speak, see their reactions and meet them after the games. It makes the games far more meaningful. The online broadcasts miss a lot of the player interviews and interactions, and the translation is often unprofessional or rushed. You never get the feel of the match atmosphere. Tonight the crowd was full and loud. Just the same as if I was watching a football game or a pop-concert where everyone knows the lyrics, I felt part of something.

Now that’s it all over I can’t actually tell if the games I saw were really good quality, epic matches or if I just felt that way because everything was so immediate and personalized.

I guess it doesn’t matter

Due to popular demand – an update on Bop Jo:
Totally smitten. If Bop’s mind is a choose your own adventure all the stories lead to his new girlfriend. Every song, picture and story we encountered over the last few days ended in Bop lustfully imagining or saying “oh I miss my girlfriend.”

Sorry girls. Mr Korea Universe has found a keeper.

He’s also had a haircut. He looks quite nice.

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There’s a phrase in Korea:

“Between life and death there’s chicken.”

Damn right. That proverb writer knew what’s what. This is chicken fucking paradise. Every possible way to enjoy chicken* is present and abundant. Eating it is a national past time.

I used to think chicken was objectively the most boring and tasteless of all the popular meats. I’ve since learnt my past self was horrifically moronic and uneducated. Now I love it.

Over the last few days I’ve had:

Jim duk – chicken stew
Chickin – what they call fried chicken
Samgyetang – chicken soup
Duk galbi – BBQ chicken

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Very tasty. That’s it. No esoteric weird shit, nothing sour, bitter or old. Just tasty – comforting, easy and really fucking enjoyable. I loved them all, everyone would.

I was actually going to eat it again last night and today but some kind of strange nutritional safety device clicked in and willed me to eat something else.

What a pity.

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I said two goodbyes this week. First Bop left to go back to Jeju and then Nicole left to go to Japan. They’ve both been incredible companions and I wish I could have thanked them in some meaningful way.

Bop:
I made a lot of half serious jokes about how handsome he is, which he is, but in reality it was more metaphorical. He’s just a great guy. I feel indebted to his generosity. He’s going to be in Turkey in July and I’m hoping to meet him there.

Nicole:
I ended up spending almost my entire month in Korea with her. There were several moments where I had to decide whether to ride my bike somewhere new or strange (that was the plan after so much success in the South East), or just go wherever Nicole was. I think it says a lot that I only rode around 420km in the whole month I was here. I didn’t care too much because she was such a good travel partner. We used to say to each other that she’s made me fat and I’ve made her poor and sweary. It sounds bad but I think anyone who has read this blog a few times will know that’s a thin disguise for an excellent time.

*solely as a spectator. I don’t have the time, passion or reflexes to ever contemplate competing.
*perhaps besides sexually – not sure

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