#tkgoesPyeongChang: South Korea – a feast for the senses

#tkgoesPyeongChang | After the great luge race my pit crew colleague Alex Meier, Toni Eggert’s girlfriend Julia Taubitz and I are on our way back home from PyeongChang. But before we finally leave South Korea, we celebrate the successful race together with the athletes and become more familiar with the Korean culture. What we have packed in our travel backpack during the last days and how you can win it, you can find out in my third travel log.

Before we are heading back to Seoul, we meet Toni and Sascha to watch the luge race of the team relay. Despite their podium place, they did not qualify for this race. Only the best single man and woman together with the best double of each nation qualify for this race – in this case the winners Wendl/Arlt. At the ice track fans and athletes cheer to the nations. The atmosphere at the finish grand stand is high-spirited; the fans of the USA even drop off their clothes in spite of the freezing temperature.  In the end the US-athletes miss the podium and finish the race on the fourth place. With a new track record the German team wins the race. To celebrate the victory we meet the lugers at the party in the German house. It is an excellent atmosphere in here. Athletes of all sports are celebrating their achievements here together, all nations are welcome. Toni and Sacha sign a coaster of the winning beer for our travel backpack.

Back to Seoul

At the next morning we are traveling back to Seoul really early. Again we stop at the biggest rest area of South Korea and even find a German Bratwurst stand there. Arrived in the capital, we defy our tiredness to explore the city a little more. The icy wind slowed down and we can walk around this huge metropole in the warm sunshine. On our way to a temple, we turn off to visit one of the markets of the city. Everywhere you can smell the exotic ingredients and spices of the Korean Food. Alex tries a grilled lobster with cheese, even the cooking was spectacular. At one of the small market stalls we buy a key chain with a Buddha figure for the travel backpack.

A german "Bratwurst"-stall on the biggest resting place of South Korea.
In a side street we find a small Korean market.
At the market stalls, exotic dishes are offered.
The lobster is freshly flambéed for Alex.

The Year of the Dog

Today the Koreans celebrate their most important holiday of the year: Seollal, the Lunar New Year. The date of New Year’s Day is orientated to the Chinese lunar calendar. This year it is the February, 16 and inaugurates the year of the dog. At a small shop we meet a South Korean woman who studied in the US. She explains us, how she celebrates Seollal with her family: In the morning of New Year’s Day Koreans buy Bokjori – little, braided shovels made from bast, used to clean rice – and hang them on their doors or walls. This ritual is supposed to grant the inhabitants luck and fortune. They wear traditional clothes and remember their deceased ancestors.  Depending on the region and the families there are different ceremonies and traditions. We buy a Bokjori for the travel backpack at her shop.

Jogysea Tempel

Only a few meters later we arrive at the impressive Jogysea temple. In between all the skyscrapers this holy place offers a place for tranquility. Many Koreans come here today to get together and pray. With a respectful bow we enter the site trough the Iljumun, a one-pillar gate. With amazement we marvel at the colorful buildings, fluttering lampions and impressive statues. In front of the main building we take off our shoes and enter the open room quietly. Three golden Buddhas are watching the praying people. Devoutly, we watch the action and then go back outside into the sun. On a large tree in front of the temple hundreds of colored lampions are hanging. Stunned by the overwhelming atmosphere were leave the place to buy one of those lampions for the travel backpack. But first we leave our wishes for the new year at Virudhaka, the god of wishes. We should have done that before the race…

A friendly Buddha welcomes us at the Jogysea Temple.
Everyone takes off his shoes in front of the temple.
Three golden Buddhas are watching the believers praying.
Hundreds of lampions are blowing in the wind.
The Jogysea Temple offers a peaceful place in the hectic metropolis.
With this grumpy looking man, Virudhaka, the god of wishes, we leave our wishes for the new year.

Annyeonghi Seoul! Goodbye Seoul!

Our time in South Korea comes to its end. We spend our last evening at the restaurant of our hotel with the view above city and passed the impressions of the last days in review. It is incredible, what we experienced together in such a short time. We defied the icy winds, won precious metal with our athletes and experienced the Korean culture at the most important holiday in Asia. In just one week we were able to fill the travel backpack with great souvenirs.

Take part in our lottery

Did you pay close attention and are you able to tell what is packed in the backpack? Then write me an email on carola.borovnik@thyssenkrupp.com with all souvenirs in the order in which we collected them by March, 7 and participate in our competition. The winner of the backpack with all the souvenirs will be drawn amongst all right answers. If you are not entirely sure, just give my travel logs another read…

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