Half a year ago, my mom and brother were pondering where we should go next for our annual overseas getaway. I suggested Korea because of the developments taking place then; SSL, LTVSL, KSL, 41SL were all announced or were already happening. We got a visa and booked flights but there was a small problem. There hasn't been any announcement at all about when the promised new season of the Sbenu Starleague will start and the date of our flight is getting near. Before I knew it, it was already the week of our flight so I've lost all hope that I might never see a live StarCraft match. Then, on the night before we went to the airport, I got news in TL that there was going to be a match at May 17. I was thrilled and I started shouting in my boarding house. "I'm going to see a freaking StarCraft game! Wooo yeahhh!!!".
+ Show Spoiler [Day One] +
On our first day there, we visited 경복궁 or Gyungbok Palace (God, I hate romanized hangeul) to see the changing of the guard. It was quite a sight with all these guys in ceremonial military gear marching in and out to the tune of awesome ancient marching music. With all the history around me (I'm a history buff) I should have been rendered speechless but at that point, the "wow" still hasn't hit me that I'm in the Joseon king's palace or in Korea for that matter. After exploring parts of the palace, we headed off to the front area where King Sejong's statue is located. We went to a side street to eat and I reminded everyone that good food is all over the place, adviced by some TL users. Man they were right. The food was great although it was too much for us to finish.
After that rented some free hanboks for tourists and briefly explored the 청계천 or Chunggyecheon before we headed off to Namsan or Seoul Tower. It was Friday so we got to catch a nice martial arts performance of chopping down bamboo with sharp blades at the summit. It was in the afternoon when we got there so we rested in the cool spring air for an hour before me and my brother went up the tower itself. Man, Seoul sure is developed. Buildings almost as far as the horizon. After buying some sweets, we went down and walked to 명동 or Myeongdong. My mom went in to plenty of the beauty shops lined all over there. We ate some street food not found back home and I watched cute Korean babes pass by. After all that, we went back to our guesthouse exhausted but we had tons of fun.
+ Show Spoiler [Day Two] +
On the second day, we went to 가평역 or Gapyeong to go to 남이섬 or Nami island. On the way, we met a another family from the Philippines who were also going there. We stayed together up to arriving at the island itself. The environment in the island looked really serene and very relaxed even with lots of people touring the place as well. There were nice views of the land across the river as jet boats swished through the water. Oh and there were ostriches. I engaged in a staring battle with the alpha male one too. Our lunch were two gigantic 해믈 파전 or Haemul Pajeon pancakes that we struggled to finish but again, pretty good meal. Before I could really settle in, it was time to go. We caught a ferry ride back and mistakenly went back to the train station at Gapyeong. We caught a bus that went back to the ferry terminal and lo and behold, the same family hopped in. We went to Petite France. A nice little place and had a nice view but we quickly went on to see the Garden of Morning Calm.
It was a really long ride beside the river and then the country side and we had to ride standing until a lot of people got off at 청평역 or Chungpyeong terminal. When we arrived there, it was already quite late; around 6:30pm IIRC and we didn't want to miss the last bus that leaves at 7:30 or else pull out some more cash for a taxi ride so we decided to make it quick. As we wandered around the garden, the scenery surrounding us was too beautiful to be described with words or for it to be captured in photos. It was paradise as I marveled at the secluded garden, flanked by high peaks, breathing in the cool mountain air. But alas, it was over too soon.
On the way back to the bus, we met the same family yet again. They got there a bit earlier by taking a taxi instead of waiting for the bus at the last stop. They were pretty cool people to travel with and it was kind of sad when we parted at 동대문역 or Dongdaemun station. At Dongdaemun, we took pictures of the UFO-like building and all the pretty lights there and ate some street food for dinner. 떡볶이 or Tteokbokki sure is heavy in the stomach.
+ Show Spoiler [Day Three] +
On our third and last day, we were really exhausted from the marathon travelling and woke up a bit later than the previous days. We went back to 동대문 or Dongdaemun to buy some souvenirs. While there, we got the time to refresh ourselves at the 청계천 or Chunggyecheon stream. It amazed me how a small stream like this can exist in the middle of city and have a lot of fish, vegetation and even some ducks. After buying some stuff, we ate some 삼겹살 or Samgyeobsal then we rode the subway train again to 남영역 or Namyeong station and took a taxi to the Korean War Memorial Museum. I'm a big fan of Soviet military hardware and this was my first time actually touching any military hardware related to the Soviet Union. There several artillery pieces, tanks, warplanes, missiles, rockets and even a WW2 destroyer. I was like a kid in a candy store with all this hardware.
Then came a problem. I can't remember the address of Yongsan e-sports stadium and I didn't write it down. To make matters worse, I had no internet connection so I spent like 15 minutes walking all around the War Memorial searching for free WiFi. No dice. Me and my dad went to the Memorial's information booth but the lady said it wasn't famous and she doesn't know.
Then it hit me. A description I remembered in TL was that it was near Yongsan station. So I called a taxi. "용산역?" The driver agreed. He took us there and now I have a new problem. Where is it there??? I searched frantically for any information and came upon an interactive info booth. I was joyed when I saw e-sports stadium but it has no address. I looked around and it felt hopeless. I thought, I'm in Korea, in Yongsan even and yet I'll still miss BW?!?! Then, a stroke of luck came when me and my brother went inside the station, there I saw the magic words with the magic arrows pointing the way; inside iPark Mall. We came up all the way to the 9th floor and then I went like, "I remember this from Ret/NoNy's Courage video!".
It was finally set, my dream of watching StarCraft live in Korea finally came true. Though there were few of us watching there; CaucasianAsian can testify- it was still a great feeling to be in the same room as guys like ZeuS, IriS, TosSGirl, RainBOw etc to name a few.
The matches themselves were in the range of pretty lackluster to pretty hilarious. I think the highlights of the night were Sea getting his ass handed to him by Olympus, the Kwanrolling, IriS advancing and RainBOw's oops-I-messed-up faces vs Major.
After it ended, it seems that I got rewarded for all the trouble of getting there. I really needed to piss after the games and took to the washroom. When I turned towards the door, I saw a familiar face. "Kim Jeong Min?" I asked. "yes" he said in English. Holy shit, it's TheMarine!!! I waited for him to finish and then asked him if I could take a picture with him. I've never taken a selfie before, it's just not my thing, but for that night at least, I made the leap. TheMarine looked like he was in a hurry (so am I) and the bluetooth gadget on my monopod broke so I sorta panicked and took a less than ideal angle for a selfie. But I guess, for a fan of the game and its players, it was all I needed. We had a little chat too before we parted ways. I was like a freakin fangirl for a few seconds too many. STARRRRRCRAFFFFFTTTTTT!!!!!
+ Show Spoiler +
+ Show Spoiler [Little bonus stuff] +
+ Show Spoiler [TBLS] +
If you asked me at least 3 years ago if I'll be able to go to Korea, see a live, OGN broadcasted, StarCraft League, see old legends, take a picture with a legend and the picture being a selfie? My answer would a strong "NO WAY MAN!" It would have been unconceivable for me, especially with how BW was back then . Wow, just wow. I had a smirk on my face as we commuted all the way back to our guesthouse.
God, I love Korea. (Mind you again, the one in the south.)