My Beautiful Mint Life, Sunday 2nd May

My Beautiful Mint Life. It sounds like I’m showing off doesn’t it?  Well I’m not. Ok, maybe just a bit, but that’s the nature of blogs. They tend to either be a rant against the world or a bit of a smug ‘look at me, aren’t I having a great time’ sort of thing. I’m not really one for ranting, more for trying to have a great time so I suppose this blog falls into the latter category.

Anyway, My Beautiful Mint Life isn’t my latest attempt at telling you how wonderful everything is. No. It’s a festival, a music festival. Great name, eh. Perfect for a Teesside festival where those of you who don’t live there probably wont know that ‘mint’ is the word of choice for describing something that you quite like. Except this one wasn’t in Teesside, it was in Seoul.

One of the things that I have missed whilst I’ve been in Seoul is going to see bands. Hang on, perhaps this is turning into a ‘rant blog’ after all. I could have seen Bob Dylan about a month earlier, but it clashed with my trip to Japan to get my visa. Apart from that there hasn’t really been much else going on. I’ll particularly miss going to festivals. In recent years I’ve been cutting down on them, giving up Leeds and V, but I’ve still been going to the likes of Glastonbury and End of the Road when the opportunity arises. So the chance to see a music festival over here was something that I was keen to do.

Although I couldn’t have been that keen, as it ran for two days and I only went to one of them, the second day, Sunday. Another thing that I’ve been missing is going hiking (see, definitely one of those rant blogs, I’ll be complaining about work colleagues not appreciating me and locals pushing in front of me in queues next, it’s how these things work), so I decided to go hiking on the Saturday. The downside of this was that something had to give and this week that was the football. Apologies then, if you actually read this because you have an interest in Korean football. Although if that’s the case, then you’ve probably realized that you have to wade through an awful lot of dross just to find out the Jeonbuk result. Skip straight to the end now if you want to find out how Lee Dong Gook got on.

Seoul Racetrack from the top of a hill

So on Saturday I hiked up Mt. Cheonggyesan with a hiking group that I’d found on the internet. They were a friendly and interesting bunch, a mixture of mainly Koreans and Americans, with the odd Brit as well. Particularly odd, I suspect they thought, but that’s just my way. We walked for about five hours, with frequent stops for makgeolli, that milky looking Korean rice wine, bits of cake and pretty much any excuse for a chat that we could think of. One of the benefits of hiking with a group is that you don’t have any responsibility for where you go. I quite like that. It’s laziness I suppose, but as navigation isn’t one of my strong points, it’s a lot more enjoyable to leave it to people with a map and a sense of direction. At one stage when we were near the top we were able to look down on the racecourse that I’d visited a few weeks earlier and we passed some old burial mounds as well. When we were back down again we called into a Korean restaurant for more makgeolli and a barbeque. As the new boy I had to make a speech, which despite being kept down to about fifteen seconds, I was later told was too long. Fair point.

Graves

Sunday I didn’t have to make any speeches, but I did have to do a bit of navigation. I’d been seeing an American girl and thought that I’d take her along to the festival for a bit of company. Some things I prefer doing alone, the trips to football matches, for example, but some things benefit from having a drinking companion and, for me, music festivals fall into that category.

It was a bit of a trek to get there as it took place right on the outskirts of Seoul, three stops from the end of Line 3 at Jeongbalsan. I’d naively assumed that it would be signposted from the subway exit, but it wasn’t. We wandered about aimlessly for a while before I spotted a sign for it, quite close to the subway exit as it happens. We bought our day tickets, exchanged them for wristbands and went in. It wasn’t a particularly big festival, set in the grounds of a college I think. There were three stages, a main stage with tiered seating, a second stage where you just sat on the grass and a third stage that we didn’t bother even walking around to. There were probably about a thousand people in there, so it was easy to get around and get served.

It was a very pleasant way to spend a day, sitting in the sun listening to music whilst knocking back a variety of drinks. I started with beer, switched to bags of sangria that resembled blood bags from a hospital, tried beer with tomato, which I wasn’t too keen on and then moved onto some other stuff which I no longer remember. Possibly tequila sunrises. Without the accompanying coffee this time though I think.

The bands were pretty good, mainly folkie type guitar bands, with the odd acoustic one thrown in and a little bit of easy listening and jazz. Towards the end there was a flamenco style band who were very well received. It got a bit colder as it moved towards the finishing time of ten o’clock, but I’d brought a coat so that was fine too. My Beautiful Mint Life indeed.

Meanwhile, for those of you who are keeping up with his progress, Lee Dong Gook scored an injury time equalizer for Jeonbuk in their home draw with league leaders Gyeongnam. He was also named as one of the six strikers in the provisional World Cup squad of thirty. A couple of the others are pretty young and inexperienced, so as long as he stays fit it looks as though his good run of form will earn him a trip to South Africa.

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