2014 Asian Games Athletics (Seoul)

I did a whole lot of nothing for most of today. For the most part I slept in and lazed around the hostel. Burning the candle at both ends caught up with me and a rest day was necessary. But of course it wasn’t all laziness and boredom.
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I went on a shopping expedition to a local grocery store to buy supplies for my cycle tour of Korea, which begins tomorrow. It was interesting to walk around and not know what things were. Even many of the vegetables were unfamiliar to me. So I took a guess and bought some items that seemed like they will fuel my body for a few days. One of the items I bought was Korean pancake mix so I made up a mix, added some vegetables and Korean meat product, and cooked up some lunch to share. It was pretty good. Not as good as the lady at the street stall makes but good for a first time.
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At 4.30pm I meet Julian in the hostel kitchen to go to the Asian Games Athletics. We were each given a couple of free tickets the other day so why not. It’s a little over an hour by subway and then we wait a little while at Geomam station for another guy from the hostel to join us. He is running a little late but that is no problem. A free shuttle bus takes us to the massive stadium. It’s quite spectacular and there are lots of spectators cheering on the athletes.
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The women’s hammer throw is on and it’s even more spectacular in real life than anything I’ve seen on television. The athletes are so strong and the hammer flies impossibly far through the air. A Chinese athlete wins and our Chinese friend from the hostel goes to talk to his countrymen. I snag a photo with the coach of the winning athlete. It’s a pretty cool moment.
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There is no allocated seating so we just explore the stadium a bit. The 110m hurdles heats are taking place on the opposite side of the track so we make our way there. Before long I find myself in a VIP area right near the track. It’s so cool to be this close to the action.
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After the hurdles we explore the stadium some more. Some Thai guys are wearing cool costumes and I ask for a photo. They seem to be having a good time.
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We manage to get really close to the games flame. As in, we stand at the top of the stadium seating and are only a few meters away from it. The flame is amazing. It seems to float on a water fountain that changes colour every few seconds.
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We find some crazy self-heating meals at a concession stand. You open a tab on the box then pull a plastic thing and suddenly steam starts coming out of the box and it heats up in your hands. Locals were watching us in amazement so this must not be a common thing here. The meal itself was okay. I wouldn’t eat it at home but as a stadium food it was better than the other option: two-minute noodles.
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We eat in the stadium watching the women’s and men’s 100m finals. An athlete from Qatar wins and the crowd behind us goes wild. Seriously, they filled the stadium with their cheering.
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Meanwhile the last of the brave men flew over the pole vault bar. Every time the Korean athletes jumped the crowd went wild. It was fantastic. Pole vault is amazing to see live. They really do fly.
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A late night snack at a street food vendor near the hostel rounded out a fantastic final night in Seoul.

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