That title might be a little mis-leading.
This weekend was the Gyeongju Hat Tournament and Fantastic 4s ultimate frisbee throwdown. Let me give you the who, what, where and when of the weekend:
When: This past weekend, June 11th and 12th, 2011.
Where: Gyeongju, South Korea. Gyeongju is easily the most beautiful city that I’ve seen in Korea so far. Though it doesn’t have the ocean and beaches of Busan it does have a nice river that divides the city, long paths and stretches of grass (Thats right, grass! – I hadn’t realized how little grass I’ve seen in Korea until the cab ride into Gyeongju) border the river on both sides. The river meanders its way through a valley between two rolling mountain ranges, and since the city isn’t terribly developed (at least vertically) you can get a pretty good view of the heavily forrested mountains in all directions, and I didn’t see a single gym or makgeolli restaurant on any of them. Scenery aside the city had a very rural feel to it, the mountains seemed greener, and I’m certain the air was fresher than Busan or Daegu. In fact stepping off the high speed train on Saturday morning (the whole trip took maybe 45 minutes) we caught the scent of fertilizer on the air (and not the open sewer grate kind I’ve become accustomed to in Busan, this was actual, honest to goodness, agricultural fertilizer).
Who: The hat tournament was a collection of Ultimate players from all over Korea. We had people coming in from Seoul, Daegu, Gyeongju, Busan and Jeju (and more, I’m sure). It was probably 80% westerners, spread over all the major countries that EPIK and Hagwons recruit from, and the rest were Koreans (though I did meet one couple from Thailand). Most of the players were veterans from the Spring and Fall Ultimate leagues that play in Busan and Daegu, though some were newcomers (like myself) who don’t have any experience in league play yet and others still who were just playing for the first time.
What: The what of the weekend is by far the bulk of this post, because I’m going to lay out everything that happened (well, except any bad plays I made, might not include those).
The tournament took place at Dongbuk University stadium, a 100 yard football field. The stands had an overhang which offered shade (and believe me, we needed it – Saturday was one of the hottest days I’ve experienced here in Korea) and we had water coolers plugged in, not to mention copious amounts of Pocari Sweat (a sports drink similar to Gatorade) and beer on hand for anyone who found themselves getting a little thirsty (which was just about all of us). First day was alot of fun, though the sweltering heat coupled with the massive field (and the inevitable running that accompanies it) really wore you down quick. By the end of the day teams that had played several games on the way to the finals (particularly those who had lost once in the double elimination tournament) had players dropping in mid play and having to be carried off the field, their legs paralyzed with cramps. Oddly the majority of the spectators (who had been enjoying cold beers in the shade since being eliminated earlier in the day) found their agony amusing – I learned later that heckling is a major part of Ultimate, it is expected and encouraged.
Playing wrapped up for the day around 9 pm and, exhausted, we staggered to the cabs waiting at the university. We found our way to an area that was heavily populated by ‘love motels’.
Love motels are basically super cheap motels that cater to either 1) Prostitutes and their johns, 2) Couples desperate to be alone together (particularly couples that aren’t married as usually Koreans live with their parents until they get married, meaning no place for a little pre-marital hanky panky) or 3) Cheap western tourists. I don’t want you speculating about which category I belong in so I’m going to tell you quite clearly that its the last one.
The love motel was an interesting experience. Somehow it ended up being even sleazier than I imagined (which is saying something). Basically four of us jumped into a room, which was empty except for a mini fridge, small TV and washroom. We laid thin mats out on the floor for sleeping on (I believe they are called Yo, plural Yos – correct me if I’m wrong), which suited our purposes because we were exhausted. The set up was fine for one night, but I wouldn’t want to stay more than that in those conditions. Highlight of the night was just before we left for dinner (which ended up being samgapsol – Korean BBQ – delicious). We were standing in the hallway outside our room when a door across the hallway opened and out came a middle aged Korean man wearing nothing but his tightey whiteys and a smile. He mustered up a staggering amount of nonchalance as he strutted past us to deposit the wad of tissues he was carrying in the garbage. I still shiver when I think about it.
Oh and one more little piece of awesomness at the love motel, just before bed I saw one of the biggests bugs I’ve ever seen scurry under our sleeping mats. A brief game of cat and mouse with the surprisingly fast and intelligent little thing ensued. Finally we cornered it and managed to squash it in some tissues. I don’t know for sure what it was – but it definitely wasn’t a cockroach or a centipede, though those are the two most similar looking insects to that monstrosity.
The next day was the Fantastic Fours tournament. The weather was just as nice as the first day, with just a bit more cloud cover, which helped keep things a little cooler. This event involved pre-made teams of all men, all women or mixed genders having at each other on smaller fields with shorter stall counts. It made for some challenging and fast paced frisbee action, and there might be a video showcasing some of it coming down the pipe for you in the near future. The teams had ridiculous names, which brings me to the title of today’s blog – Disc Throw Inferno (my team) struggles with Projectile Discfunction (the team comprised of other Busan players who knocked us out in the second round). Make sense now?
Thats all for the moment BNBnowers! If you are interested mosy on over to http://www.youtube.com/user/Tiddlywinkers88 for a video of my Jangsan Mountain hike.
Thats all for now!