Thursday, March 31, 2011

Korea - Part V Final (Suwon II)

(All photos from my trip can be found on the photo album on my Facebook Fan Page!)

Back at Samsung, this time they were missing some of the National Team players as they were back at the National Training Center (as we saw on Tuesday when we visited - see Part IV). However, training was still good as we had some opportunities to play with the players. How it usually works is that if you can beat them, then you can play again, or maybe even play some higher level players. Or, the players may 'challenge' you again (it's all up to the coach), and you have to do your best to beat them. Unfortunately, winning is not as easy as it sounds, and you have to work pretty hard and play well to win. We had some okay Mixed games, but Men's Doubles was pretty rough, as everyone was flying around, smashing and driving everything, and if you were not ready, you would lose the rally. We were pretty tired from training because though the Samsung team had Thursday afternoon off, we trained anyway. We had the option to take Friday afternoon off instead, but since Saturday was also just a half day, we decided to train anyway and tough it out. Though it wasn't easy, at least one of us didn't leave empty handed...

Samsung Company Team Banner
(L to R) Kwon Seung Taek, Gil Young Ah, Lee Hyo Jyung
(L to R) Seo Yoon Hee, Hwang Hye Youn, and Kang Hae Won
(L to R) Kim Min Seo, Park So Ri, Jang Su Young

(L to R) Im Ho Hyun and Ko Hyun Jung
(L to R) Jung Jae Sung, Park Tae Sang, and Ha Tae Kwon
(L to R) Cho Gun Woo, Lee Yong Dae, and Kang Woo Kyum
(L to R) Choi Hyun Ho, Kim Dong Min, and Hwang Jung Soo
(L to R) Park Yong Jae, Kim Moon Soo, and An Se Sung
Yes, so we decided to return to train on our own, as Kim had an errand to run in another city, so he would be away from the day. We went back to Samsung and to my surprise, because I'm not sure if Grace or Christin noticed, I saw Jung Jae Sung! So... if Jung Jae Sung is there... that should mean... Lee Yong Dae would be too (and Hwang Hye Youn hahaha ;). At first, we were just stretching and all, and then to our surprises, in walks... Cho Gun Woo... then followed by Lee Yong Dae =) See, I guess training more pays off! After our training we had the fortune of seeing some of the other legends at Samsung, notably Park Joo Bong and Kim Moon Soo, 1992 MD Olympic Champions. Park Joo Bong is currently coaching the Japanese National Team, while Kim Moon Soo is coaching the Korean National Team! But none of this is that important to Christin Tsai, who was wanting a picture with Lee Yong Dae. Fortunately for her, I had the courage to ask for her, so I guess the rest is history. Unfortunately, we had to deal with her ravings for the rest of the evening ;)

Christin Tsai with Lee Yong Dae!
As some of you might know, I've been incredibly sick for a fair amount of time in Korea. First I've had food poisoning, which cleared itself up, then some intolerance to the food, which felt like Traveler's Diarrhea (TD). Fortunately, I was able to treat the TD with Probiotics (in capsule form), but until I could return to my medicine bag in Seoul (I was in Iksan at the time), I had to rememdy it with digestive cookies, probiotic yogurt drinks, and even McDonald's (comfort food hypothesis haha). Unfortunately, it just didn't work the same as the capsules, but now that I'm on them, it's been pretty good. If you are traveling, I would recommend a probiotic supplementation if you want to be safe. I've used Florastor and at the moment, I'm using Jamieson's Advanced 4-Strain Probiotic which I found at a Superstore for about $20 CAD. There are other remedies, including Imodium (Loperamide) and Dukoral. Imodium is quite strong, as it REALLY stops you from going. You might think it's a good thing, but I've been advised that sometimes, bad things need to get out, so if you're keeping it trapped in your system, them worse things can happen. I've never tried Dukoral either, but it's a pretty heavy treatment as well, as it's more or less a drinkable vaccine. It's also fairly expensive and as Korea isn't really THAT bad, I've opted for the probiotics instead. Also, Dukoral is kind of a one shot thing that keeps you TD (and Cholera) free for about 3 months, but later on, you'll need another dose. Anyway, always check with your family physician for proper medical advice. Also, I have no idea how these treatments work for children, so I would definitely get more information for them.

Large variety of cough drops, Probiotic pills, Tylenol Flu, etc.
Wow, I got way off topic but I think I will go write an article later on 'Medication to Travel With' and interview some health professionals for more information. I think there will be people who might like that, especially if they get sick as much as I do o__O Anyway, I've been through various Korean medication for my NEW problem. It started as a pretty severe sore throat, but from the trend of other people I see at training, it will probably become a cough. And yes, I was quite correct. I had caught the local sickness spreading around. Great... the sore throat was quite painful and even the Halls, limited Strepsils, and salt-water rinses were limited. However, I did find some relief in eating, as I guess the salivary glands kicked in and it lubricated the throat a little bit. Now that it seemed to have migrated down my throat, it's become one of those annoying dry coughs. I've asked for some OTC (over-the-counter) medication but they gave me some pills that I still don't really know what they're for (as the box and everything is in Korean), but after searching on the internet (yes, I can slowly type in Korean characters), I found my medicine. With the help of Google Chrome, it translated the page enough for me to make sense of the pills, but it seemed to be just some mixture of herbal medicines. Frankly, it's not working so great as I'm skeptical about herbal meds so I've lost any chance of a placebo effect. Anyway, I've given too much information again, as I wanted to introduce Korean 'Yu-ja-cha' or Citron Tea. From searching on the web, I've actually learned that 'citron' is a fruit itself (hey, I thought it was just a reference to a mixed-citrus fruit flavour). Basically, it's a large jar of cut up citron, including the peels which are edible, mixed with honey and some other ingredients. Sometimes there is a mix of aloe, lemon, ginger, red dates/ju jubes, and even ginseng. Unfortunately, I just opted for the default, so I just had generic yujacha. Oddly enough, it's rather pricey here, with a large jar (1kg) costing about $5.50 CAD. In Canada, it's about that price, but then again, it depends if it's Korean, Chinese, and I believe it may be popular in Japan as well, though I have not seen a Japanese brand. It's a simple drink mix, where you take a few spoons and mix if with hot water. At the moment, it's my staple drink and I've been going at it for a few days now. I've also added Ginger Tea to my arsenal and that is helping things along as well.

Korean YooJaCha - mix with hot water!
Ginger Tea
For our last Monday and Tuesday in Korea, we decided to go with the Samsung company team to train in Po-Cheon, a small city North of Seoul. They will be having a local tournament there in April, so they went to train there for a days. The gym was quite cold, as I was told that Po-Cheon was at a higher altitude, hence the cold weather as there was a bit of snow or frozen rain. The gym itself is pretty big, as it has 8 courts and a large viewing around on the 2nd floor looking down on the courts. We were fortunate to be able to tag along with Samsung, as we were treated for meals, as we just joined the team for most of their activities! We ended up staying at the same motel, called 'Palace Hotel' as it looks like a giant castle (see picture) and it was a decent place. It was like the other motels we stayed at, with a big TV, free internet, and other ammenities. We skipped the Tuesday afternoon session though, as we had to head back to Seoul to get ready for our return home.

Po-Cheon Gym
Motel in Po Cheon
The Samsung bus
On Wednesday, we helped Kim out with an exhibition at Seoul Foreign School for their Junior High School team. We played around with the kids and then did a little fundamental skills exhibition (e.g. lunges, footwork, etc.) and then a little exhibition game between me and Grace vs. Kim and Christin. It was interesting to see because the level of elementary/junior high school kids in Korea is quite high, but the level of badminton here was closer to the North American standard, that is, unfortunately, a lot weaker. As it was a school for foreigners (everyone spoke English), it felt a little like coaching at home =) Nonetheless, it was nice to see the interest in badminton at the Seoul Foreign School.

Kim posing in a picture with the Seoul Foreign School players
That pretty much wraps up the trip! We went to the airport via airport bus from Seoul and got to the airport on time, but only to find that our flight was delayed and we would have to change our connecting flight to a later time. Unfortunately, that meant changing our flight from 2:40pm to 8:15pm, almost 6 hours difference. But we would only have about an hour to transfer flights in the US, including getting boarding passes, going through security, and of course going through customs... though maybe not in that order. I've taken a couple of HD videos where I would walk around somewhere and just film whatever I saw. I gave very brief commentaries on the latter videos, but I guess we'll see how that goes. Anyway, thanks for checking out my blog these past weeks and hope it was entertaining enough! Next to come will be some past footage, the odd article, and hopefully NEW tournament footage as I will be starting up the tournaments again very soon!

Until next time =) Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of the pictures!

Triangle Kimbab from a convenience store. Only 700 Won!
Real kimbab at a noodle/kimbab shop... still really cheap! 2500-3000 Won!
Blue was playing hard to get. Either way, all the Samsung players got a souvenir =)
Japchae with rice - More or less Korean style comfort food!
Ultimate comfort food: Quarter Pounder w/ Cheese combo at McDonalds =)
Okay, maybe this is too much for comfort food. Check out the Samsung FASHION though!
Final group shot with Ha Tae Kwon!
And one with Lee Hyo Jung! =)
Guess who? =P
Here she is again! =)
Okay, maybe I'm a little too obsessed with Kim Yuna... oh well ~__^

As a bonus, I have included some video footage in HD (720p) of me walking around different places in Korea, filming what I saw! For a better taste of Korea, check out the videos!

YouTube Links:
Walking around Suwon Pt I

Walking around Suwon Pt II

Walking around Seoul

Walking around Incheon/Seoul Airport

Of course, this trip would not have been possible if not for Kim Dong Moon, so a big thank you to him! He pretty much had to travel with us and coach us most of the time. He also set up some games for us with the other Korean players, so without him, this would have been more or less an impossible trip. Also, I'd like to thank Lee Dong Soo and the KNSU team, Ra Kyung Min and the Dae Kyo team (Park Sun Young, Lee Hyun Jin, and Lee Yun Hwa), Choi Jung and the entire Won Kwang University team (including Lee Haeng Ham), and of course, Kwon Seung Taek and the Samsung team, including coaches Ha Tae Kwon, Gil Young Ah, Lee Hyo Jung, and all their players that we were able to play with! Another thank you to Kim and Ra, for letting me stay with them and their family including their adorable kids in Seoul! Lastly, I would like to make a personal thank you to the Canadians who came on the trip: Jon Vandervet, Alan Chow, and Christin Tsai. As they are not regularly with our training group, it was nice of them to take the adventure to Korea with us and keep us company. I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did =)

And of course, thank you all for taking the time to visit my blog!

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