Weekend in Jeonju
And what a weekend it was. Craig is a pretty good activity planner. I pretty much just have to show up, because he plans fun stuff for us to do. That’s really the way I like it. 🙂 This past weekend, he cranked things up a notch, though. We went hiking and squeezed two (and a half) sporting events into two days.
We headed out Friday night. Although I had booked the tickets on Tuesday, the first train with seats was at 9, so we took that down. There were no seats on Sunday night, though, so we took the bus home. In the end, it wasn’t a bad choice, especially since the basketball arena is about a 15 minute stroll from the express bus terminal.
We got up late-ish on Saturday– about 8:30. That got us to Moaksan for a 10:00 start. We had a look at the trail map and picked a route along a ridge that no one else seemed to be taking. Since there were hoards of people around, that seemed a wise decision. It was quite steep for over a kilometer (steep for me, that is), but after that, it wasn’t too bad. It was only about 3km or so to the peak, anyway. We walked along the ridge, but it was very foggy, so we couldn’t see much of the views. From what we could see, I think it’s definitely worth a return visit. About 300m or so from the peak, we met up with all the hikers we had avoided earlier and the faux-peak was crowded. I think a lot of the people assumed that was the peak, because it had a stone marker and a platform for taking photos. When we left there, we continued on another five minutes or so and reached the actual peak, which was in amongst a bunch of towers painted the worst camouflage ever. I think they had just decided to get whatever paints were on special.
After a few minutes enjoying the view– and the quiet, once we were back away from the crowds– we continued on what we thought was a path down the other side of the mountain. We walked for about 2km and found a map showing we were 1.5km from our starting point. LOL At least we weren’t completely lost. Neither of us have the best sense of direction, and we both like to avoid the crowded trails, so we generally get lost once out of every two hikes. So, getting lost in the direction of a familiar place wasn’t too bad. In fact, it turned out to be pretty good. We could hear cheers for about the last thirty minutes of our walk. It turned out that there was a soccer tournament going on where we had started from. The local residents were playing thirty minute games. So, we stopped and watched one before heading back to Jeonju.
Once we got back, we headed straight back out to the World Cup Stadium to see the Jeonbuk FC take on Qatar’s Al Saad FC. It was probably the best K-League game I’ve ever seen. It was nearly a sold out stadium and the teams were well matched. So well matched, the game went to extra time and Jeonbuk ended up losing in penalty kicks.
Sunday, I got my weekly lie in, and we headed out for the day at about 11. Craig had never been to Dukjin, which was my second home when I lived in Jeonju. So, we wandered around and he politely listened while I told all the places that used to be there. It’s all been gentrified and filled with coffee chains, but when I lived there, Lotteria was the only national brand to be seen. That was just about the only thing still there. That and Neo Dada, a stationery shop where I used to load up on stickers for my students. I had a look around for old times’ sake. Somehow, it hasn’t changed much.
We had lunch at Kimkane Dakkalbi, and it was the best dakgalbi I’ve ever had. Jeonju food is the best, but this place went out of their way. The side dishes included a piping hot, crispy kimchi pancake, fish cake in a spicy marinade, kimchi, and the usual assortment of “salads”. The dakgalbi itself was a generous portion with more red pepper paste than usual. It was all so good, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. We did not have room for the self-serve ice cream, but the kids eating at the tables around us had enough for two or three people. 🙂 All that for 5,000 won each. When I used to live there, I ate out every day, usually twice, because everything on the menu where I ate was 2,000 won.
But I digress. After lunch, we had some coffee and walked around some more before heading over to the arena, which is just at the edge of the Jeonbuk Dae campus. The basketball started at 3, and we arrived shortly before, having sorted our tickets out before lunch. KCC Egis were taking on Samsung Thunders, who I hadn’t seen since they got rid of Big Jelly aka Nigel Dixon. The Thunders’ new foreigner, Ramos, is a giant, but being tall seems to be his main skill. On the other hand, Jeonbuk has a Kyopo (전태풍/ Tony Akins) who is only 5’11”, but is one of the best players, if not the best, in the league. Craig and I saw a few Thunders games last year, and I’d kind of written off Korean basketball, but the game on Sunday was at least as good as my university team. I know that seems like faint praise, but I had ranked Korean basketball with my high school team after last season. So, Jeonju has the better player, but Seoul has a former Harlem Globetrotter, Shanghai aka 이승진/ Eric Sandrin. I think he’ll be my new favorite player, since the Big Jelly is gone.
After the game, we had dinner in a place that may have been a money laundering operation/ cover for back room gambling/ brothel, judging by their surprise at having customers and the obvious difficulty they had preparing tuna kimbap and mandu. We left there and made it back to the bus station with about fifteen minutes to spare before our bus, despite me dragging Craig into half a dozen supermarkets unsuccessfully trying to get a bottle of Coke Zero. At the station, I bought some figs off a guy. When I had a look at them and about a quarter were oozing juice, he replaced them and threw in an extra as an apology. As we walked away, Craig saw him putting my cast offs into another box for sale. LOL
I’ll just finish the post off with a couple of photos from the hotel stairwell. We stay at all the classiest places.