Fri 7/8, day 23
Early this morning I went on a hike with Dan up to the rocky peak of the mountain overlooking Jeonggwan, that you can see from the Collins’ apartment. He often mountain bikes this trail, up to a certain point where it turns into stone stairs. It was quite a steep route – not many switchbacks like you’d find in the Smokies; I guess the Koreans just want to go straight up. We passed a few people on the trail, including an old man in pajamas whom Dan said he sees often. As we got higher we saw more wildlife – a chipmunk here, a bird there – and started to get a view down into the valley. At the top, the view was breathtaking. It started out with a pretty clear view down into the valley. Then the fog rolled in and up the mountain, seeming to defy gravity and flow through the gap between us and the next peak over. You could still hear a lot of the noise of the city (mostly traffic, some construction) but when you pass over the peak to the other side with Jeonggwan behind you, that fades away and it’s quiet. Dan and I had a great conversation, catching up on what life has been like for him in South Korea for the past 4 years, and what he’s looking forward to in their move back to the States and his new role with TLI.
We also wanted to go and hangout with the girls on individual dates. Phoebe and I went to a stationary store and for boba tea and had a fantastic time swapping stories and doing origami. She is incredibly funny and talks a mile a minute. I’d ask a question and then she’d ask me a question, not in a lawyerly manner, but more in the way of old friends catching up after a long time.
A bit later in the day I had my one on one time with Maddy. We also went to the boba tea shop, but they didn’t have any without milk, so after Maddy got hers we stopped by a coffee shop so I could get some coffee. Then we walked down by the river telling stories and asking each other questions. I asked about what she’s looking forward to in the US (snow) and what she’ll miss from Korea (food, freedom). She was just acting like a kid which was nice to see – she sometimes acts like a teen or an adult (9 going on 19) maybe partially due to being the oldest, and definitely partially due to her personality, so it was nice to see the playful kid side of her.
The big event of the night was going to see the Lotte Giants play the LG Twins. Korean baseball is a lot more interactive than in the states. In one section, there’s a stage set up for dancers and a sort of mascot guy, not in a mascot suit, but with a cap. A weird Elvis of sorts. Nate learned a few of the cheers (there’s one for each player). There’s the typical Kiss Cam and Dancing Cam. Try as they may, the girls didn’t get on the screen. They danced their hearts out.
As into baseball as the Koreans are, their sportsmanship is still maintained. So Dan shouting, “Hey batter, batter…swing, batter, batter…” definitely got a lot of strange looks. I loved it. As an avid and vocal baseball fan, I joined in a bit. Dan also made friends with the young Koreans around us by including them in his spontaneous cheers in Korean (making them up on the spot, I think). High-fiving everyone around us. It was great.
At the 7th inning stretch, something very odd happened. Attendants started passing out orange plastic bags. Apparantly when the hometeam needs some extra juju, this is their style of rally cap. Let me describe: you blow up the bag and tie a good knot and then stick the bag on your head and then loop the handles over your ears and wear it like a hat. Very odd. But when in Rome….
The score kept on going back and forth. LG was up in the top of the ninth. With two outs in the bottom of the 9th, and two men in scoring position, we were on our feet, but the rest of the crowd wasn’t. So Dan and I (mainly Dan) cajoled our section into standing up. I said obnoxious things like, in America we stand up when there are two outs (ok, granted two outs, two strikes). I desperately waved my hands. I’m not sure why I felt it my job to inform the Korean fans that they have to stand. They’re really quite accomplished in their baseball cheering skills without me. But many people actually followed our lead, well Dan’s anyway. They really like that he randomly shouted Korean things at the players and umps.
And what happened? Base hit and we won. Go Lotte, go!