Saturday, July 24, 2010

A brief chess update followed by more pictures!

I have played a little since I got back.  In 7 games I have 2 wins and 5 losses.  None of the losses were total blow outs, but I was having clock issues.  It's hard calculate quickly when one's brain is functioning at 1/4 speed.  I will post some games later, just so that people will remember that this is a chess blog.  In the meantime a few mores pictures and highlights from my trip.

Busan city skyline from my hotel window.
Rainy night, and a rainy next day.

We spent the night in Busan, which is the second largest city in Korea.  It's a major seaport and has many beaches.  We actually spent the night in a hotel across the street from Haeundae Beach which can get quite crowded in the summer months.  However the morning I walked on the beach it was pouring rain, so with the exception of a few hearty souls swimming it was very empty.  I was not amongst the hearty souls in the water.

Wet in the water or on the beach.

Can I find a place for my beach chair?

Singing in the rain? Fred Astaire I'm not!

Fortunately our touring activities for the day were indoors.  However one of them was a visit to Yongdusan Park which has a tower in it.  The views from the top were not as spectacular in the rain and fog as they are on a bright sunny day as pictured in this blog.

Busan Tower

Harbor in Busan

 Play ball! There actually a baseball field on top.

Even though the views from the top weren't great there are a number of very interesting buildings, statues and trees in the park.  Photographing them without get the camera wet was challenging.  That's what husbands with umbrella are good for.

Information booth in old style building.

Dragon Sculpture _ Plaque all in Korean

Yes those are raindrops on the lens!

General Lee Sunsin

Many interesting trees in the park.

I was so glad we had lunch before our next stop.  We ate at a fish restaurant and then afterwards visited the fish market.  Maybe my chess game is off because you are what you eat.  I was eating a good amount of fish on this trip.  I did not have any of the types of fish pictured below.  

I'm not sure what these were.



Not sure what these were either.

After the fish market tour we went to the airport to catch our flight to Jeju-do Island, the Hawaii of South Korea.   (South Korea is probably redundant since I suspect there is not an equivalent place to the north.)  With all the rain, our flight was delayed.  Though the Korean idea of a delay is much different then a US delay.  They wrote on a white board that the flight was delayed until 15:32 which was 2 minutes later then the scheduled departure.  Then they changed it to 15:34.  Stop it! You're killing me with those delays.

After a flight of less then an hour we arrive in Jeju-do.  Stay tuned for my next report.

Jeju-do Island as seen from the air.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

More Pictures. They're much prettier then my chess games.

After our tour of Dae Gu we headed to Yeung Cheon to see the opening ceremony for the 1st International Clubs Open Taekwondo Championships.  I think many of us would have like to have stayed there and competed, but we were there as mere spectators.  During the parade of nations I think the US delegation was surprised at the loud reception they got.  I don't think they knew there would be four busloads of American Taekwondo tourists there to cheer for them. Though marching in the parade was one or two athletes from each nation.  Needless to say there was not a delegation from North Korea.

Team USA

Host Nation - South Korea

After the parade of nations there were various speeches.  One speech went on and on, so I decided to go outside and see what was happening out there.  There I found various teams practicing, including one who would be part of the demonstration that would occur after the speeches were done.  Why listen to a long winded speech in Korean when I could go take pictures?

It doesn't matter how long I train, I won't ever be able to do that!

..... or that.

Kids team practicing. (I can do that!)

Once the speeches were done, then I went in to watch the performances of dance and Taekwondo.   I was sitting up in the balcony, but the telephoto lens allows me to catch the action.  However pictures in difficult lighting situations don't do the performances true justice.


Look it's a bird, no it's a plane, no it's a high flying taekwondo master.

From Yeung Cheon we went to Gyeong Ju.  The next day we visited Tumuli Park which consists of 23 tombs of Shilla monarchs and families.  They look like grassy hills as seen in the picture below.

Shilla tombs

Far East's oldest astrological observatory.

From there we headed to Bulguksa Temple.  This is on the Unesco World Cultural Heritage List.  It's really quite impressive.  Below is the last of three stone stairways we climbed to get to the top.  I managed not to fall down any of them.  Click on the link above to read about the history and architecture.  Here a some of the photos I took there.

Steps to the upper tier of the temple.

Dabotap pagoda.
This pagoda is pictured on 10 won coin.

Beomyeongu pavilion.

Mogeo (fish-shaped wooden gong)

Two of the four guardian gods.

That was only part of our day.  From there we went to Busan to see a performance of traditional Korean music and dance.  Unfortunately an emergency pit stop, a lost bus driver and horrible downtown Busan traffic made us a little late for the performance.  There I almost did fall down steps until the usher finally shined a light so I could see where I was going.

In front of the performing arts center was this sculpture of Korean dancers who do the most amazing things with their hats.  Later in the trip I would get to see these dancers perform live.

"Hat dancer" (for lack of a better term.) sculpture.

Performance at Korean Folk Village outside Seoul

Enough for now.  More pictures to follow.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Back From Doing Some Seoul Searching

I have not vanished off the face of the earth. I was on the other side of the earth in Korea.  You might remember if you read my posts from the 2008 NY State Championships that I had a catastrophic hard drive failure and lost many pictures from my Spain and Korea trips.  After finding out that trying to restore the hard drive would cost $1600+ I figured I could use that money and go back to Korea or Spain and take the pictures again.  I did get an opportunity to take some of the pictures again in Korea. Next year I might have to go back to Spain and retake those pictures. :-)

I just got back on Friday, and my body still doesn't quite know what time it is.  Look at the time zone map below and you'll understand why. Click on the picture to read the clocks.

Seoul 17:45, New York 04:45

I was planning to write a post and put a few positions up before I left for the other side of the world.  However getting organized and packed took way too much time.  And to be quite honest, after the week I had chess-wise I didn't really feel too inspired. The chess brutality of the Thursday Night Championships continued into the following week.  Truth be told I'm a little fed up with myself and my chess game.  I even thought about posting during the trip, but after going non-stop from thing to another about all I had the energy for was throwing a few pictures up on Facebook.

I'm back in New York and will face the chess wars on Monday night in at least a directing role, but possibly a playing role depending on odd or even numbers.  I took a chess book and chess set with me, but they stayed on the suitcase unused for the entire trip.  Good intentions on my part, but sometimes things don't go as planned.  More to the point, I didn't care to make time for chess even though on some of the long bus rides I could have pulled out the tactics book.  This is the closest I got to anything remotely related to chess.

A tour bus spotted in Itawon section of Seoul.

Over the next couple of days I'll share some pictures  from the other side of earth where I have spent the last 10 days.

Good bye NY, Hello Korea

Group photo at 7:00 am at Incheon Airport

After waiting for everyone to arrive from various flights, and taking the group picture we headed off to Muju for a tour of Taekwondo Park.  Right now it's a hole in the ground.  Construction is in its early stages. It's supposed to be completed by 2013.  Hopefully construction projects in Korea move quicker then construction projects in the United States.  However given how much building has occurred in the country in the two years since I last visited, they probably will pull it off.

Taekwondo Park July 2010

Taekwondo Park 2013

It was a long bus ride to listen to a presentation on the park, and look at a pile of dirt, but the country side is beautiful.  I had been to Muju the last time I was there.  Many of the sites were familiar to me.  After the tour we went to lunch, but not before the bus driver got lost and we got a bonus scenic ride up into the mountains.

After lunch we went to Dae Gu where we were greeted by the Vice Mayor and presented with the first of many gifts we would receive on the trip.  Everywhere we went there was a big deal made of our visit, and we received a number of very nice things along the way.

Dae Gu City Hall

Tour member receiving gift bag from Vice Mayor

After the visit to City hall, we had dinner, and then finally got to the hotel where we all wanted to just crash.  It had been a very long day!

Blogger knew where I was, even if I didn't.

The next day we visited the Yakcheon Market and herbal medicine museum.

Reflexology walk.  Walk barefoot on it. 
Stones get progressively larger. Ouch!!!

Local doing shopping for herbs.

Chopping medicinal roots in museum hands on exhibit.
I managed not to chop off any toes or fingers.

We got terrific views of the city from Woobang Tower.  I chose to do my viewing within the confines of the observation deck.  Unlike some of the crazies on the tour who did the Sky Jump from the top.

One of many nice views from observation deck.

One of the brave (crazy?) souls who decided take take a leap.

Tomorrow; more pictures and less commentary.  Then later in the week, back to chess.