Tag Archives: frisbee

Yes, I’m still alive

Ultimate has consumed my life for the past two months.

Ultimate has consumed my life for the past two months.

I come and I go. It’s an unfortunate cycle really. There are times when I’m everywhere, and there are times I completely disappear from the radar. The past 1.5 months (wow, it’s clearly been way too long) have been rather eventful, and I’ve been nowhere near updating about it.

I spent most of the weekends in January and February in a go out-sleep-play frisbee-go out cycle in preparation for Dream Cup in March. This tournament took me to Japan for a weekend, where I saw the bright lights of Tokyo, the pristine snowcap of Mt. Fuji and a handful of small-time Yakuza. Japan is ridiculously expensive. In a four-day weekend, I spent nearly $500 USD. I spent about that much in two weeks in Vietnam. That being said, however, I’ve added Tokyo to my short list of cities in which I can really see myself living. (Chicago rounds out that list.)

After Dream Cup, I spent many evenings — weeknights and weekends — catching up with friends in Seoul. This may or may not have led to multiple benders lasting three or more days. It probably wasn’t the most effective way to pass the time, but sometimes I can’t say “no” to an invitation for trouble. It’s especially hard when it involves warm weather and drinks on a patio.

Throughout this mayhem, I was also preparing for this past weekend’s party of a tournament on Jeju-Do, an island to the southwest of the Korean peninsula. We played our games on some of the practice fields for the 2002 World Cup in ideal 70-degree weather. Clearly I spent as much time as possible without a shirt. It was glorious.

The school life remains rather stable, but I can feel the stresses of Korea building once again. My co-teacher and I rarely see eye-to-eye on things, and unlike my previous co-teacher, she doesn’t seem to be on my side since she’s new to the job and working by the book. It’s nothing serious, but the many nuisances continue to add up. I’m still undecided whether I’m going to re-sign for another year, but we still have a little time to make that choice.

Unless an offer comes along that blows my mind, I can’t foresee myself moving out of Korea in the near future. Outside of school, I live a pretty stress-free life. All in all, with balmier weather and good friends all around, life is pretty good.

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New Place of the Week: Taipei, Taiwan

NPotW now has an international flavor. My most recent travels took me to Taipei for a weekend for an ultimate frisbee tournament. I left Seoul on Friday evening and returned Monday afternoon. I made trips with this kind of quick turnaround at least twice a month in college with my university’s club ultimate team. A whirlwind adventure like this often takes me to new places, but since I’m there for a tournament, I’ll spend most of my time at the playing fields and not see too much of the town. Taipei was no different.

The flight from Incheon International to Taipei Taoyuan International took about two and a half hours. Despite the short flight, the airline still provided a meal and free drinks — reminders that North American carriers suck. After a steak, glass of wine, shot of Courvoisier, and half of “A Complete History of My Sexual Failures,” we landed in Taipei.

It was everything I had expected…which wasn’t much. I had heard Taipei was very similar to Seoul, and the comparisons aren’t unfounded. It’s big, has its own layer of smog, and endless traffic leaves a lot to be desired. Despite being a city with one of the world’s highest population densities, Taipei still manages to have a fair amount of greenery — much more than Seoul. The streets also seemed wider, giving Taipei a noticibly more open feel to it than Seoul.

Like I said, I was there for a tournament, so I didn’t have time to see any of the sights, most notably the Taipei 101, the world’s tallest completed building. Standing twice as high as the next tallest building in the city, Taipei 101 dominates the skyline and can be seen from anywhere in the city. Other than that, not much separated Taipei from any other big Asian city, especially the one in which I’m currently living. In that same vein, though, since I live in a similar city, I’m sure there are plenty of sights to see in this town, but I wouldn’t make a long trip out of it.

As for my business there, our team — the only one of the eight from outside Taiwan — won third place in what was a lackluster tournament. We received bronze medals and a team trophy and then lost them all to a member of the winning team in a series of unfortunate Rock-Paper-Scissors games. I went to Taipei, and all I got were these stupid photos…and a strawberry-flavored Kit Kat bar. [hover over photo for captions; click to enlarge]

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Only if there weren’t so much smog

I might end up being in better shape than I could’ve imagined myself in an overcrowded, smog-ridden city. Seoul isn’t the most conducive environment for general health with its lack of running areas and abundance of street food. I started this trip — after a year working at a sedentary job and not playing much disc — in possibly the worst shape of my life, and I’m not the kind of person who can go the gym, pump some iron, jog on the treadmill, and call it good. My attention span isn’t long enough for that. If I’m exercising, I need some sort of mental stimulation. I’ve decided, however, to become fitter and hopefully in the process become straight up ripped.

I joined the Korea Ultimate fall league in an effort to motivate myself to play ultimate (i.e. to get out and exercise). Ultimate isn’t as thrilling for me as it used to be. I essentially lived for it while I was in college, but after I graduated, I enjoyed hanging out with people more than actually playing the game. I’m not sure if I’m jaded or if I need the routine of practices, the motivation of winning tournaments, and/or the camaraderie of a team, but I don’t get excited to play frisbee anymore. I think I simply enjoy competition, so once I get into the game, it’s a good time. While the ultimate here isn’t very competitive, the people are super cool, and every Sunday I manage to get on my feet and finally do some running.

I also joined a rock climbing gym, which has been quite the challenge. Before this month, I had climbed one rock wall in my life. The gym, however, focuses more on lateral bouldering — less forgiving to beginners lacking proper technique. Fortunately, the membership fee pays for training from the gym owner for the first month, which has been rather brutal. My hands are covered in blisters and calluses from the first couple weeks, which I continue to tell myself are badges of climbing honor.

Seoul is also surrounded by mountains, so hiking is a cheap and easy way to get some exercise. In my time in Seoul, I’ve been on two hikes. A group of us SMOE kids wandered up Yongmasan (fun fact: “san” means “mountain” in Korean) in northeast Seoul. Yongmasan is still within Seoul’s city limits, so the views were only decent, unless you’re into looking at gray, smog-covered cities.

Smog is so pretty.

Smog, as seen on the way up Bukhansan, is so pretty.

A couple weeks ago, a few friends and I hiked to one of the peaks of Bukhansan National Park, which lies on the northern edge of Seoul if not outside of it. Looking at Seoul from the mountain, my friend remarked that Seoul reminded him of Sim City. That’s not exactly glowing praise, but once we got to a peak, we looked the other direction, and the endless green mountaintops were beautiful. For those moments, I forgot I was in the congested mess that is Seoul.

This is what looking away from Seoul looks like. I also need a haircut.

This is what looking away from Seoul looks like. I also need a haircut.

I don’t see myself falling back into the lazy habits of yesteryear. I have two weeks of Fall League left, and I’m looking into going to Taipei for a men’s tournament in December. The rock climbing is still tough, but I plan on sticking to it — at least until my fingers fall off. Some friends and I are planning a trip to one of Korea’s most beautiful sights, Seoraksan National Park, in November, which should be interesting as the temperatures drop. In that same vein, I can only dream about the first snowfall — the unofficial opening of ski season. This gives a new meaning to “I’ve things to do and places to see.”


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Tired and incomplete thoughts

I’m a bit sore, a tad burnt, and a lot tired. I just got back from a sun-drenched frisbee tournament in Bloomington, Indiana. I played with my former college Ultimate frisbee team. It was great to see how much these guys have grown as frisbee players — and as a team — since I was there literally the first day they played college Ultimate. Spending several days a week practicing together and entire weeks playing together creates a bond and mutual respect that I’m not looking forward to leaving behind.

One thing I’m almost eager to leave behind is my job. I will be putting in my two weeks’ notice at the end of this week. I’m not quite sure how this is going to go, especially with my department currently shorthanded as my former supervisor just recently received a promotion into a different department. I don’t think it will be as dramatic as people always imagine it to be, but I’m sure I’ll have some sort of butterflies leading up to Friday.

I’ll figure it out as the week goes on, but right now, I’m too tired to think about it. All weekend though, I was thinking about blogging. I was thinking about what to write about and how to write about it. I had a little time each evening, but I spent it sleeping or hanging out with the team. All in all, the weekend was less eventful than I had hoped, but I like having the blogger’s mindset. It’s a good start. I don’t think I’m going to have to force myself as much as I thought. It should come pretty naturally.

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