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Korea Blog 2019

Day 9

Today we experienced a new level of public transport use today the Seoul Metro! Master Kim's expert guidance was fantastic. We stopped in Insadong and the artists village, which was filled with galleries and artisan boutiques. Rosie even got enlisted to help some Korean boys, who were out on a school trip.

Then we travelled into the centre of Seoul to meet Madam Cho and a friend of Master Kim's for lunch. The signage around and about informed us that it was a bus terminal, but it looked more like a shopping centre lined with restaurants.

Lunch was a buffet based adventure with a range of international cuisine lining the counters. It was amazing to see such a cross section of cultures under one roof.

After lunch and a short metro ride Master Kim showed us the Gyeongbokgung Palace. The Palace and attached museum were thriving with hundreds of people dressed in traditional hanbok gave a unique cultural experience.

The evening brought us another excursion into the night life of the Namdean market. Where cabbage omelette and Nutella croissants made for a tasty tea.

Time for packing now. Ready for a 36 hour day tomorrow.


Day 8

Quiet day today in Korea... A 5 hour train ride from Busan to Seoul. Seoul is quite different from the other cities we've seen so far.

Master Kim took us on a walking tour of the surrounding area, including the bustling Namdang Market where he was stationed as an officer.

Later we went exploring Seoul at night and the culture week events did not disappoint. We found a cafe to have tea and play with 55 cats! It was very soothing and astonishingly clean. Finally, we made it back to the hotel (without Google maps) for a well earned rest.


Day 7

We started early with breakfast at the hotel, followed by a walk to the sea front in the inviting drizzle.

Afterwards, Master Kim Jihyun reprised his role as our tour guide and took us to the Haedong Yonggung temple. The temple is on the cliff top over looking the sea. It was very busy but we had time for a mandarin tea and an interesting explore.

Next, we headed to Gamcheon Culture Village which was having a festival. We sampled the local delicacy 'amun' which is a battered fish on a stick; it was very tasty.

The village was teaming with visitors and stalls lined the streets. We stopped at the acupressure stall to help mend some injuries. There was also time to stop for coffees and hot lemon.

Master Kim Jihyun took us for tea at a special Chinese restaurant on the far side of Busan, the food was excellent and worth the drive. Following the meal we searched Haeundae beach for a late night coffee shop, which took some finding, but we were successful.

At this point we would like to make an announcement. After a flattering comparison to a water buffalo, from Master Kim Yong Ho, Hannah will be remaining in Korea to pursue a career in wrestling, under the name 'buffalo Hatfield'. Look out for match dates.


Day 6

Today started with a glance through the morning papers had a glowing review about the efforts of the Mudo Academy in Daejeon yesterday.

Up on the days news, we caught the mid-morning train from Daejeon to Busan to start the day. On arrival we met Master Kim Jihyun and Master Woo, who showed us around the beach side city. Starting with lunch and followed by coffee.

There was a thriving market area where we went shopping for Rosie's birthday presents. We also tried a selection of freshly caught fish from the stalls. Master Kim Yong Ho treated us to a tasty doughnut which was filled with jam and seeds... And attracted a crowd of pigeons.

Master Kim Jihyun was an excellent tour guide as we drove through his home town and crossed the 'longest bridge in Korea' to get to Haeundi beach.

Evening arrived and we went to a luxury sushi restaurant to celebrate Rosie's birthday. Just when we thought we could eat no more they served birthday cake, complete with a very Korean rendition of Happy Birthday.

We're too full now. So off to bed.


Day 5

Staying in a Martial Arts village may be one of the best experiences we have ever been fortunate enough to have had and it is a shame we could not stay longer and train in the mountains.

However, taekwondo never sleeps and neither do our delegates. Packed and ready to go for another day of sights, sounds and driving reminiscent of the wacky races we set off to Daejon.

Our morning consisted of a trip to a specialist jujube cafe situated in a Mudo Seminar centre. Here we were served pure jujube tea, with jujube biscuits. It was still delicious but very different from the tea with the Mayor. Don't worry we're making plans to import this healthy tea to the UK, (perhaps even going as far as to include it in the grading syllabus). After this we journeyed to the Beopju temple.

The temple buildings are ancient, made from wood and maintained in the traditional style. As we made our way round meeting new faces and friends, Hannah was asked to perform an example of pal jung do and pal Mudo. Pity she didn't take her pink, watermelon socks off!

Leaving the temple our ever increasing group walked along the river taking in some of the cultural sights and history. Including a set of statues celebrating the birth of Korean writing and a stainless steel tree with a fascinating story to tell.

Professor Oh, took us to his village of Obaksa where the Oh's have lived for 400 years. Rosie got to experience the wonders of the outdoor gym equipment, with her new personal trainer Master Kim Yong Ho. Our action packed day continued as our exuberant host took us to his allotment in the mountains, a mere 1 hour drive from his dojang.

With the allotment tended and his dogs fed, we prised Rosie away and travelled to Professor Oh's dojang, in Daejon city. We were treated to an energetic Taekwondo and breaking demonstration, to a collection of Superhero theme tunes. After this we demonstrated the Pal Mudo style for the team. Only to learn the whole event was being filmed for Korean news and after the compulsory Post-Taekwondo picture taking ceremony, we were interviewed as representatives of the Mudo Academy.

This has been the Mudo news, good night.


Day 4

Another very busy day today with a 4.30 am start in the temple, followed by fried egg sandwiches for breakfast and a 3 hour sword lesson.

We are leaving Buyeo and heading to a Martial Art village in the mountains. En route we accompanied Master Kim Yong Ho to a meeting with the Mayor and Professor Oh. We were served with a local jujube tea, it wasn't quite Yorkshire tea but it was very good.

Following the meeting we went for a meal of traditional Korean bulgogi. Well fed and tired, Professor Oh drove through the mountains to the Seongne Mountain Village, where the surroundings were breathtaking and the accommodation exemplary (there was even a kettle!)

Now its time to rest before an action packed day tomorrow.


Day 3

HI ALL. It's been another busy day in Korea, starting at 0400h with a celebration of Buddha, which was a fascinating experience to be involved in. Following the celebration we practised meditation with Master Kim Sang Tae, in which was a timely reminder of the underpinning elements of the Mudo and a healthy way.

After breakfast we did some painting meditation, with some expert help we created some (non-Martial) Art for posterity. Then we were off to see the sights.

First we headed to the lotus farm, but the lotus were not yet in bloom. Undeterred we enjoyed a scenic drive through the Korean countryside to Seodongyo Historical Attraction and Buyeo Student training centre. This famous movie and tv drama set looked fascinating and is closed on Mondays. Still the beauty of the surrounding area made for a wonderful day of sightseeing.

We concluded our busy day with another gummudo training session. It was invigorating to train in the fresh air, even if there will be a few bruised fingers in the morning.

Another day of Mudo education done, now it is time for a well earned sleep. No problem!


Day 2

Returning back to a 24 hour day has been bliss!

We started it with a contemplative morning, discussing a wide range of philosophy including the merits of a Buddhist tractor.

Then we were invited to the annual ceremony performed to honour the ancestors of the chosen family, which was truly uplifting. Afterwards we were honoured to meet the original monk of Buyeo temple, which was a humbling experience.

After lunch Grand Master Kim Yong Ho and Master Kim Sang Tae took us sightseeing. We drove along the Keumgan river, only to find our destination closed. Prompting us to reverse back along a one way road, curving along a river bank. NO PROBLEM!

Unscathed by our experience we headed on to Baekje historical grounds, which was fantastic. Truly an exceptional insight into the wealth of culture Korea has. Everyone was very welcoming and Rosie even made friends with a very chatty goat.

Returning to the temple we crossed the singing river and stopped to see where 3000 maidens died at the hands of a King. We returned to the temple and rounded the day off with sword practice in the outdoor dojang. We practised the sword until it was too dark to see.

Now it's time for bed to prepare for our 4am meditation session.


Day 1

This trip started like every other Taekwondo trip, with a game of car boot tetris: expert level! With a well packed car, we were en route and on time (which was a culture shock for Hannah).

Despite being stuck in a car in 24degree heat, the drive to Heathrow was peaceful; with no sign of any protesters glued to the plane. Once checked in the waiting game began, all 5 hours of it. The perfect precursor to a 9 hour flight!

We arrived in Beijing with aching joints, half a medicine cabinet and a vague suspicion of knife smuggling. Baffled by time difference and sleep deprivation, we raced through the almost deserted airport to be greeted by another 2 hour wait.

From Beijing to Gimpo, Rosie was adopted by an elderly Korean couple, which helped us clear customs in no time.

Arriving at Gimpo we spent those few nervous moments at the baggage reclaim before standing in arrivals only to find out Grand Master Kim Yong Ho was in Incheon. Must be time for a quick tea.

Update: It is midnight and we have stopped at a services to caffeinate our driver. Still 2 hours from the temple. Please send biscuits x

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