The morning started off rough, with pre competition anxiety causing…turmoil in my digestive system. That’s par for the course with me. Perhaps noodles AND coffee was a mistake. We quickly ate breakfast and I had a quick trip to the washroom before we dashed off to the Kukkiwon building where I would wait for my first event – speed breaking.
Speed breaking is an event where one’s successes depends not on how many tiles are broken but on how FAST the tiles are broken. The bottoms of the tiles are fastened securely to a moving platform. It can’t be stressed enough how smoothly the platform moves on its track. If you hit the tiles with insufficient velocity, they might still break BUT the platform will also move a lot. That’s not good. The best competitors move the platform the least amount. The speed breaking apparatus is set up to alternate sides. Competitors are directed to either one side or the other.
Before competing, we needed to be ready in the stands, listening for the announcement calling us to go to the waiting room outside the building, where we reported in, got our names checked off on a list, and waited to be led to another place inside the building to wait for the event to start. The whole process entailed a lot of waiting, a lot of anxiety and a lot of people trying their hardest to RELAX and not burnout while “warming up” too much (a very real danger). I tried to enjoy some other events in the stands until finally the announcement came, calling us to get to the waiting room. I quickly got my dobok top and belt on and went off to report in while everyone wished me the best of luck.
When the time came for us to sit down at the side of the competition area and wait for our turn, I thankfully wasn’t first so I had a chance to observe others. I noticed that people had a variety of techniques and variations on how to break the tiles as quickly as possible. This being the preliminary round, most didn’t do so well, moving the platform holding the tiles right to the other side almost every time.
Finally my name was called, I got up, stood before the officials, bowed when prompted to and was then given the go-ahead by the referee with a stern, “Ready!” So I got into position before the tiles, right foot forward and left foot back, took one or two practice swings, let out a rather meek shout and swung my hand down as quickly as I could. Now the problem was that I was way too tense, which affected my speed so I didn’t do exceptionally well in this round. The good news is that I did well enough to advance to the final round – to be held two days later. You can’t see in the picture below but I moved the platform far too much and wasn’t really satisfied. I also hit it at the wrong angle. I noted the errors and vowed to correct them before the final round.
After all of us had finished our competitions for the day, we left Kukkiwon around noon time and prepared to go for lunch. We ate at Woorizib Mandoo in Gangnam area again and this restaurant served some delicious kimchi dumplings.
Once full, we headed off to one of the most vibrant shopping areas of Seoul – Myeongdong. If you don’t like crowds, you’re best off going to Myeongdong in the morning, grabbing breakfast somewhere, and doing some easy shopping before there are too many people. Anyway, we had a late start but we don’t mind the crowds as we’re from Hong Kong and we’re used to it.
We all split up and shopped around for a couple of hours. Some of us wanted to sit down and relax for a bit so we grabbed a coffee at Holly’s Coffee. At 5pm, we all met up again at Myeongdong Subway.
From Exit 3 of the subway station, you can start walking uphill towards the cable car that leads to iconic N Seoul Tower, so that’s just what we did next. It’s a long walk up inclined streets to get to the cable car building. Once, inside you should expect a fairly long line to buy tickets. If you go to the website and plan ahead, you can order tickets online. We didn’t plan ahead but we were still early enough that we only had to wait in line for about 10 minutes or so – not too bad. I can’t stress enough, that you shouldn’t go too late in the evening unless you don’t mind waiting in line for about an hour. As we were LEAVING the base station at around 7:00pm, we could see a long queue of people snaking outside the cable car building and onto the sidewalk.
It was a beautiful night so far but it was far from over as next, we still had to go to Garak Market, which is easily accessible via subway train. It’s a seafood market that features dozens upon dozens of vendors selling seafood. You pick what you want to eat and either take it home or you go to the dining area and eat it there. It should be noted that there is a service fee if you eat there, and the cost is actually not so cheap.
After filling ourselves full of seafood, we were all tuckered out by the time we finally got to our rental home and had a good sleep.
I’m sorry for the delayed posts. As I get more practice, I shall become faster at this. Hopefully, Day 5 will be out tomorrow.