After watching Lotte Giants win away at Jamsil in the first game of the play-off series I wondered if there would be a need for a fourth game in the best of five format. When the Giants won the second game at Jamsil as well I was fairly sure that they would round off the contest 3-0 with their first home game at Sajik on the Saturday afternoon.
Fortunately, Doosan Bears managed to turn it around and a 6-5 away win on the Saturday brought the series score back to 2-1 and meant that a fourth game would be required after all. As all I had planned for the Sunday was going for a bike ride, I thought that I might as well get myself down to Busan instead to see a competitive game of baseball and visit a stadium and a city that I hadn’t been to so far.
With a two o’clock start to the game and a journey time of just under three hours on the KTX, I wanted to set off early. I left my apartment just after seven in the morning and was at Seoul Station for about ten minutes to eight. I quickly got a ticket for the 7.55 train and hurried towards the platform. I’d paid 71,000 for a first class ticket, the beauty being that they have single seats and I would be able to sit back and read my book in a bit of comfort. I briefly paused to get some gimbap for breakfast and then bought what I thought were sausage rolls. They weren’t of course, that would have been too much to ask for. The part that usually consists of sausage meat had been replaced with sweet potato. A similar thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago too, only it was pizza cheese that was substituted by sweet potato that time. Next week I’m planning on calling into KFC for some sweet potato wings.
KTX to Busan
The train set off on time and on looking out of the window about half an hour later I could see Sunday League football matches already taking place. Playing games at half past eight in the morning wouldn’t go down too well at home. When I used to play, a large proportion of the team wouldn’t have arrived home from their night out by that time.
I wasn't quick enough to photograph the footballers, so here are some orange trees instead.
A little later in the journey I passed Cheongdo station where I’d got the train to on the way to the bull fighting back in March. I didn’t see the stadium although I’m sure we must have passed it a little earlier.
It was raining when I got to Busan just before eleven. Hopefully it would brighten up before the start of the game, I didn’t fancy having made the trip for nothing more than a chance to catch up on my reading on the train. I’d been advised to have a wander around Texas Street which was opposite the station, but with the weather being poor I decided to get a taxi to the Jagalchi Fish Market instead. The first taxi driver had no idea where I wanted to go, despite me pointing at the Fish Market on the map I’d just been given at the Tourist Information Office. The second one I tried grasped it though and ten minutes later I was there.
The Fish Market is at the end of that street.
It was mostly in a large hall with lots of little stalls selling mainly live fish. They were sorted into the different species and kept in anything from buckets to tanks.
Excuse me, do you sell fish?
I watched a bloke pulling some from a bucket, chopping their heads off and gutting each one in the space of a couple of seconds. It was strange watching the severed heads still twitching and the headless filleted bodies flapping around on the counter for a while afterwards as he dealt with the next ones.
Better than some zoos I've been to.
I could have selected a live fish and taken it upstairs to be cooked for me, but it was a little early for lunch. Instead I went outside to look at the harbour and the surrounding areas. Whenever I’m somewhere like this I always have an urge to go somewhere by ship. It just seems like a better way to travel than by plane. Although I may change my opinion when it’s time to book my ticket for a fortnight at home at Christmas.
Alongside the docks were more market stalls, most of them selling a fixture of live and dead fish and some of them with a small restaurant attached.
Just outside the main market building.
By this time I was feeling a bit hungrier so I called into one that had a few pictures of their dishes above the door with English descriptions. There were a party of Koreans having a Sunday lunch of what looked like eel. I’ve never had eel and I was tempted,but I decided to go for the roasted shrimp at 20,000 won instead
The side dishes came first. There was some soup, which was pretty much just hot water with a few shells in the bottom, another dish contained a couple of bits of raw carrot, some raw onion, and a half a dozen monkey nuts still in their shells. The ’shrimp’ were what we call prawns in the UK and I was given about twenty of them. They were brought raw to my table, then wrapped in tin foil and cooked on a camping stove for a couple of minutes. They were very nice. It seemed a shame to dip them in the wasabi sauce that came with them, but that was pretty good too.
It doesn't get much simpler than this.
After lunch I wandered around for a bit more, watched some fisherman for a while and then had a look at the small stalls a street or so further back from the seafront. These tended to specialise in dried fish, some just in anchovies, carefully sorted into boxes by size.
It wasn't a particularly busy day.
By now it was quarter to one and I thought I might as well make my way up to the baseball. I got a taxi to the Sajik stadium, arriving about half an hour later. As we drew closer I could see that it was an open stadium, with a very large stand that looked to be fullish three-quarters of an hour before the start.
There were plenty of people still making their way towards the stadium though and I bought a ticket from the first tout I passed. I gave him forty thousand won for a twenty thousand won ticket. That was possibly a little over the odds, but it was still only about twenty two quid and if I’d shopped around I would have been unlikely to have saved much more than a fiver.
Taken on the steps on the way in to the stadium.
I went straight in, despite my ticket being for an allocated seat. At one of the food stalls near to my section there was sausage on offer. Real sausage by the look of it, not sweet potato sausage. I’d just had my dinner though, so I reluctantly gave it a miss and I got a couple of cans of Max instead.
That's more like it.
My seat was in the Giants section, beyond first base. With half an hour to go there were still plenty of empty seats, although the unreserved seating in the outfield area was already just about full. I watched the players warm up for a while as the Lotte fans took their seats around me. Most of them had either brought or were making cheerleader style pom poms out of newspaper. A club employee appeared and handed out about a dozen free large flags.
There didn’t seem to be many Doosan fans in the stadium unfortunately, which was a bit disappointing. The atmosphere at the Jamsil game I’d been to four days earlier had been the best at any game I’d been to over here and the approximate fifty-fifty split in support had played a big part.
That's an impressive stand.
There were a couple of large inflatable, well, inflatables I suppose, hanging over the stadium. There had been a bit of controversy the previous night when a ball that might have gone for a home run or may have been caught, did neither because it hit the balloon. I’d have expected one of the player’s Dads to have stuck a knife in it but both inflatables were still there, possibly on slightly longer ropes though.
The ball hit the other set of balloons, but I didn't take a photo of them.
The game was quite low scoring early on. Doosan Bears took a second innings lead, before Lotte drew level at two each in the fifth. This seemed to be the signal for the Giants fans to produce the orange plastic bags that they catch the air in and tie to their ears. I’ve no idea why either, but as I was in with the Giants fans I was given a bag and joined in.
I doubt I'd get away with it at Ascot.
Another interesting quirk was the way that Lotte Giants substituted their pitchers. The new lad would be driven onto the pitch in a soft-top mini, perhaps to save his strength for the actual throwing.
The new pitchers and the plastic bags didn’t seem to help Lotte though as Doosan took a 3-2 lead in the sixth. The score remained the same until the ninth innings when Doosan seemed to step up a gear and Lotte went to pieces.
Lotte pitching to Doosan.
Jeong Su Bin whacked a three run homer that landed about five yards in front of me and then it all went a bit mad with Lotte seeming to panic a bit. With the bases loaded, one lad got walked, which meant another run and then some wild fielding enabled the Bears to put the game well out of reach with a total of eight runs in the innings for an 11-2 lead. The Giants pulled a couple of runs back in their final innings but the outcome had already been decided by that point.
So, two games each, with a decider at Jamsil on Tuesday to come.
On the way out I noticed the Busan football stadium. I’ll be back to take a closer look later in the month when Busan take on Suwon in the Korean FA Cup Final.
I'll be back.
I got a taxi back to the station and with half an hour to spare took the opportunity to have a look at the infamous Texas Street. It was probably more interesting after dark anyway. I was offered oysters by a bloke with a small cart and a good time by russian hookers who looked even rougher than their seafaring clients. With a train to catch I didn’t have time to take up any of the offers, nor to have a drink in the Havana club that advertised the intriguing option of ‘Spy Girls’’.
More like Rosa Klebb than Tatiana Romanova, I suspect.
And whilst all this had been going on Jeonbuk were limping slowly towards the playoffs. A goalless draw at home to the Army team Gwangju Sangmu was a poor result, although the point increased their lead over seventh placed Suwon to seven points as Suwon didn’t have a game.
Lee Dong Gook was back in the squad after being rested with the rest of the experienced strikers the previous week. He didn’t make the team though, with the Croat Krunoslav Lovrek being preferred up front. The Lion King eventually got onto the pitch early in the second half as a substitute for Luiz Henrique.
Next week Jeonbuk are away to fifth placed Ulsan Horang-i. They really could do with taking something from that game, particularly if Suwon manage to pick up three points themselves from their home fixture with Chunnam Dragons. I haven’t been to Ulsan yet so I’ll probably make my way there and see how Jeonbuk get on.