Watching Korea versus Uruguay, in Korea

Seoul Travel Blog

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Dressed in fake Korea soccer jersey - at least it's red.

In the days preceding this trip, I didn't have a lot of time to prepare or pack. 

I did very little research on what to do and where to go for the personal part of this trip.  I didn't have any tourbooks, and I didn't do a lot of online research.  I have 4 days at the end of the trip where I have no plans.  I guess worst case is I just stay in Singapore.  That might be a bit boring, but then San Carlos isn't all that exciting either.  I will just wing it.

Same with packing.  I didn't have a lot of time.  I did get to REI to buy a few quick-dry items that I prefer to wear while traveling - especially in hot/humid climates.  But I was up late Thursday night trying to figure out what to pack, and what to pack IN.

The crowd outside hotel in pre-game pep rally.

I opted for my mid-size backpack, plus a smaller backpack for my laptop.  I wasn't sure I wanted to be rolling around a suitcase for the latter part of my trip, thinking that the backpack would make me more mobile.  Well, the downside to this plan, as I realized on my way to airport, is I would have to CHECK my mid-size backpack.  It's just a little too big to carry on.  Ooops.  Roller suitcase might have been smarter.  We'll see. 

Also, in my rush to pack, I didn't have time to execute my golden rule - pack once, then unpack, set half of the items aside, and pack the remaining half. (Meaning bring 3 shirts, not 6).  So I am bringing too much stuff, which is a nuisance, but too late now.  It was a little difficult that this trip is half business and half dannyboytravels.

More of the crowd.

Anyway, after 3 trains and confusing transit maps, I made it to SFO airport.  (This confusion with Caltrain/Bart/SFO tram, btw, is in stark contrast to the simple, clear, and efficient subway system in Seoul.)

At SFO, I decided to buy a travel book on Malaysia/Singapore/Thailand.  I thought (mistakenly) I'd have energy to research on the 11 hour plane right.  But after sitting on the tarmac delayed for an hour, I just decided to watch movies and sleep during the flight.

Arriving in Seoul an hour late and collecting my checked bag when it emerged as the LAST bag on the conveyor belt, I was certain the private car that EA had arranged would have left.

  I got through customs and panicked when I didn't see a "Dan Givens / EA" sign.  Ok, panicked is too strong a word.  I simply went to the information desk and had them call the car company.  Done.  The guy emerged a few seconds later at the desk.  He had waited for me.  What a guy.

We might as well call him Mario, because he drove like a madman -- speeding and weaving in and out of traffic, ignoring the concept of lanes, right of way, and safe following distance.   I loved it.  He did slow down for the overhead photo-ticket-cameras.  It was great.  We'd be zipping along at 140 km/hr, and he'd suddenly slam on the breaks - speed camera overhead - and then speed up again.  And he'd pull the ultimate jerk move that even I don't do.

...sneaking into a transition ramp at the VERY last minute, virtually sideswiping cones or dividers on one side, and neighboring cars on the other.  As we approached the city, we hit traffic, so we slowed way down, but the maneuvering just got worse.

As we drove, I also realized that 3 out of 5 cars in Korea have TVs as part of the center dashboard.  How can THAT be safe!?  Also a lot of tinted - really tinted - windows.

We got the hotel, I checked in, showered, unpacked, and then went exploring.  Korea was playing Uruguay in the World Cup tonight, so there was a lot of activity.  A huge screen was set up in the hotel lobby.  But more impressive was the street outside was completely closed down, huge stages and screens had been constructed, and people were already lining up (or really sitting down in the middle of the street on blankets).

Beer (and rain) on the streets of Seoul!
  It was only 6pm.  Game started at 11pm.  It was going to get nuts.

But actually, it wasn't that crazy.  I hung out in the hotel lobby for a bit, watching the pre-game and taking advantage of the buffet/happy hour.  For 27,000 won (about $25) there were appetizers and all the wine and champagne I could drink until 9pm.  Losing proposition for them.

As 11pm approached, I walked the streets outside.  It wasn't as nuts as I thought.  Despite the fact that there are no open container laws, and people are actively buying/selling cans of beer from the carts on the street. Sweet.  I realized this after buying 2 cans and negotiating for a paper cup at 7-11 store.

The game wasn't great.  Korea lost, which put a damper on the evening.  The crowd dispersed pretty quickly.  I walked around for any neighborhood hot spots.  I found none, so I called it a night.

Back in the hotel room, I realized I forgot my plug adaptor.  But amazingly enough, the hotel had both Korea and US plugs!  Great.

I hit the sack.  Big day of touristy walking-around stuff tomorrow.

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Dressed in fake Korea soccer jerse…
Dressed in fake Korea soccer jers…
The crowd outside hotel in pre-gam…
The crowd outside hotel in pre-ga…
More of the crowd.
More of the crowd.
Beer (and rain) on the streets of …
Beer (and rain) on the streets of…
photo by: chiyeh