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Before I left for Korea I was watching the IFSC World championship online and I saw that the next  round in the series was to be held in Mokpo Korea. Fast forward to  around a week before the date of the competition. I was in the climbing gym and I mentioned the climbing competition to one of the employees. they looked sort of confused and said that the Mokpo competition had already passed a few months ago. I dug around a bit more and found that I was right and that a group of Koreans from the gym was going to make the trip to go watch.

I traded numbers with two of the guys going and we each made our own separate travel arrangements. Friday after work I had dinner with a friend and finally around midnight my bus was ready to leave the station. Four hours later I arrived to Mokpo where the air was noticeably more sticky and colder than I had anticipated.

There was nothing open, not even the bus station itself. I was hoping that the taxi ride to the train station would leave me somewhere with the possibility of an all night coffee shop but again I was locked out and tired. I couldn’t sleep on the bus so I laid on a bench with still around an hour until Seung Bum and the others would arrive.

The language barrier to this group is high; none of them speak English but somehow through text message we managed to figure out that I was here waiting and their train had been delayed because something was blocking the tracks.

Lamp Post Mokpo

pavilion Mokpo

Peak Mokpo

At 5am we bought some snacks and hiked to the top of Yudal Mountain. It was a lot of standing around, shivering, killing time but it was worth it to see the first sliver of orange poke up from behind the mountains.

The competition didn’t really get started til around 12 so we went down and found a place to get a real breakfast. The six of us sat down and I had no idea what to order. As far as I could tell my friends said there was some dish that is very typical. I was confused when the Ajjuma (old woman) brought out a bowl of what looked like spaghetti noodles swimming in milk. Worse was the fact that the kong-guk-su was cold and that the soy milk was pretty flavorless didn’t help.

To get to the IFSC center we had to take a bus get off at a stop that was literally on the side of the interstate then walk through some rural area, up a hill. Music was tumping from even a ways away, finally the big grey wall appeared.

The environment was pretty low key. There was no security, no gate, just walk up and grab a seat or walk around. So laid back that I had a 15 minute conversation with the trainer and two climbers representing Spain.
Cliff Hanger Mokpo Dome Hole Mokpo

Group Mokpo

Julian Puigblanque, in the blue jacket, climbs for Spain.

A while later a few more people from Seoul joined us. The weather was nasty and a huge storm threatened to cancel the competition but somehow the big red blob on the radar skirted the event and only left a few drops of rain. Lead Wall Mokpo Ledge Balance MokpoLater that night we went to check into our hotel. There were 5 guys and 5 girls, there were two rooms. This was my first experience with a hotel in Korea and it was strange. There was just a pule of blankets and thin cushions neatly placed in the corner of the room and a small entertainment center with a TV.

We all got showered and went out to eat. The restaurant was typical, nothing I hadnt seen in Seoul. again they ordered and I ate. They said they ordered a Mokpo staple and I had a feeling I knew what it was, being that we were close to the see and having already seen the big fish tanks by the front door.

Three plates were put on the table. The white tubular dotted flesh wiggled and danced, and when picked up tried to suction itself to the plate. I love octopus anyhow so eating it raw, squirming and  freshly chopped up was not hard.

On our way home we split into two groups, one went to buy snacks and drinks, the others back to the hotel. They returned with tons of things and one curious box that they seemed to be hiding from the others. they finally clued me in on the birthday surprise for one of the girls.

The following day we went back and watched some more of the competition but a few people agreed that if we could get an earlier bus back to Seoul it would be better .  One of the guys used his phone to change my bus ticket.

 

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