Category Archives: Travel

People Watching in Dubai

I’m about halfway through my 5 hour layover in Dubai and i’m posted up on a cushioned one seater at a starbucks; sipping green tea and watching the thousanda of people in transit walking by. I’d upload a pic of my vantage point, but the wifi here is terrible. You’d think a country with an infrastructure this rich, would have a stable connection to the internet at the airport, but alas, that is not the case. With that, all i’m left with to describe this scene is words…

This is the first time i’ve touched down on middle eastern soil and it’s been quite a culture shock. Way more so than in Korea. For starters, the main strip of the departure terminal is a seemingly endless Duty Free shopping center. Every name brand you can think of is represented here. It’s clear that i’m in an arab nation, as all signs are both in english and arabic. Many arab women are fully covered, exposing only their facial features. Next to the bathrooms, are ‘prayer rooms’ and periodically, an islamic prayer chant can be heard over the PA.

Not to be lost, however, is how multinational the people in this airport are. Every step i take, i hear a new language. There are arabs, africans, europeans, americans, asians… All of many varieties. I’ve been chatting with a guy from South Africa who builds golf courses in China… It makes me wonder what’s beyond the walls of the airport? Is this a microcosm for the cultural representation of the city or is everyone just trying to make the most out of their layover just like me?

In just under 3 hours, i’ll be on my way to Brazil. Havent been back “home” in 2 years. But right now, i cant stop thinking about Seoul. As soon as i left the city and got on the express train from Seoul station to Incheon airport, i started to feel the uncomfortably familiar feeling of nostalgia and longing that i’ve come to know when travelling alone. It must’ve been bottled up as i experienced Seoul with 25 classmates. But this is the emotion you feel when you’re in a transition period. You put what youve just experienced into perspective and realize how lucky you are to have been there. You miss the people you were with and you think about the next phase of your journey and do what you can to calm the anxiety. And i’ve been here before…i remember this feeling… When you’re somehere youve never been before and you ponder what a massive planet this is. Here it goes again…….

AS

Playlist

Pretty Lights – Taking Up Your Precious Time (was on repeat the entire 10 hr flight from Seoul…lulled me to sleep and brought me back to consciousness)
The Orb – The Orb’s Adventures Beyong the Ultraworld

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The Ultimate Goodie Bag

Well, i’m sitting on our bus on this last day of our Korea trip. I really love it here. Theres been no shortage of places to see, food to eat, bars to crawl to, etc… Easily the best part of this trip however, has been our daytime itinerary that Dr. Choi prepared for us. He’s called in sooo many favors from colleagues of his, as we visit 3-4 sport related sites a day. The formats are all pretty similar: we visit the facility/stadium/arena/office, they show us around and then give a presentation on their business and what they do, followed my q&a/discussion. We’ve met with everything from basketball teams and sport marketing firms to newspapers and the site of the 2018 Olympics in Pyeonchang. All awesome in their own regard.

As if it wasn’t cool enough, about half of the places we visited gave us gifts to take home. The Korean people have been so gracious and i wanted to share some photos of what we’ve received:

The folks at Coca-cola Korea gave us a really nice notebook and branded pen:

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The NC Dinos expansion baseball team gave us an awesome ball cap and gorgeous moleskine planner/agenda:

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Sports Toto, a Korean online sports betting company gave us a classy wallet/money clip:

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The KT (Korea Telecomm) Sonicboom basketball team gave us a sweet t-shirt after the game we watched in Busan:

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We visited the largest newspaper in Korea, Chosanilbo, who printed us each the front page of their paper from the day we were born, a mockup front page with our class photo in front of their facility and a really snazzy doo-rag/beanie/headband:

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As you can see, we’re not talking chapstick and branded sunscreen spray here. This is some truly nice and thoughtful stuff, that we’re all gonna use. Not to mention the slew of lunches we’ve been treated to, etc…

We’re on our way to visit the SK Wyverns baseball stadium right now. Everyone’s flight but mine leaves at 5:40 pm (its 11:30 am here now). My flight to Brazil leaves at 11:55 pm and i’ve got an additional half day ahead of me tonight. After we drop my classmates at the airport, Dr. Choi and I are meeting with a sports reporter who wants to write a piece on our visit to Korea (everyone is very excited and interested that we’re here. The NC Dinos even issued a press release on our visit to their offices that was published later that day.) I’ll say goodbye to Dr. Choi at 6 and he arranged for me to then go to dinner with Sae Young Park, whom we visited yesterday at her company ‘Minus 1 Golf.’

Words can’t express how grateful I am that Dr. Choi has arranged the end of the day for me and for the entire trip in and of itself. This has been an unforgettable week and i’ve experieced more than i could’ve imagined. I’m ready for the next step in Brazil, but i already treasure the time i’ve had in Korea, the people that experienced it with me, an the people and organizations we were introduced to. What an amazing country filled with incredible people.

More than impressed,

Adrian Spinelli

Playlist:

Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
Little Brother – The Minstrel Show
Starfucker- Starfucker
Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die
Future Islands – In Evening Air
Robyn – Body Talk Part 1
Gang Starr – Hard to Earn
Hieroglyphics – 3rd Eye Vision
Feist – Open Season (remixes and b-sides)
Blind Pilot – 3 Rounds and a Sound
Spoon – Ga ga ga ga ga

Nightlife in Korea

“This is Mihn Guk and Jin” Dr. Choi said. “They’re Sport mgmt students here in Korea and will be assisting us all week.” [Dr. Choi turns his head slightly and cleary looks at me while still addressing the whole group] “And don’t get them drunk..” It’s almost as if i heard him say: “go get these guys hammered” and i knew then and there what i had to do. Loop Jin and Mihn Guk into our group debauchery and hit this town hard with a couple locals…

Our first full day in Seoul called for an all out group outing. What better to build the group energy than going out and getting absolutely hammered and dancing our faces off? The night before, shortly after arriving in the city, 6 of us went on a stroll through the milder part of the Gang-nam station area. Most alcohol serving establishments there are restaurants and you could easily tell that the custom at these types of joints is to eat and drink. In other words, you cant just stroll into a restaurant and order booze without getting food too. We happened to find a lounge bar and knocked back a few korean beers and met a new friend, ‘Uncle Park’ as he liked to be called, who insisted on buying us rounds:

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Night number two was a different story. We started at a legit Korean bbq joint and the soju (somewhere in between vodka and sake, cheap and smooth; lots of fun) and beer started flowing, while the bacon and bulgogi was sizzlin:

Tina and Erika cookin up the bacon (or ‘The people’s meat’ as they call it in Korea)

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Bulgogi beef with enoki mushrooms sizzling:

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The aftermath:

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Having Jin and Mihn Guk around helped us find the happening part of Gang-Nam. While there were restaurants in the area, clubs and pubs prevailed. Our fix for the night, was Noise Bassment:

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18 American students and 2 Koreans walked down the steps and the shit got real. Korean kids were doin the dougie in a corner or killin it on the dance floor, which we promptly took over. I got the impression that Jin and Mihn Guk weren’t the biggest party animals, but it was nothing a few beers and jack and cokes couldnt take care of. Before long, i had Jin doing my infamous ‘crab walk’ on the dance floor and everyone was jumping up and down to good old American bubblegum pop. Nothing says go get shitfaced on the dance floor in Korea quite like Katy Perry and Lil John.

On the stroll home, we hit up a tempura stand for tempura squid, deep fried dumplings and deep fried corn dogs (trust me they’re glorious):

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Last night, we returned to Gang-nams happenin’ drag and got the games started with drinks from a liquor stand. Jack and coke tastes soooo good out of a zip lock bag:

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Me and my classmate Ryan spotted a sign that had a lucky cat with a microphone. We thought this was probably a karaoke bar and took the elevator to the 7th floor to scope it out. It didnt take long until 10 of us had a VERY cushy private room and were blaring out renditions of everything from Beyonce and Offspring to 50 cent and Boys II Men. They didnt serve alcohol there, but bringing in your own booze from the 7-eleven downstairs was game. Add some 1.6 L bottles of korean beer and soju to the mix and the festivities looked something like this:

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So there you have it… Korea definitely does not suck. Until next time, heres the double battered corndog commandos, saying goodbye!

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Playlist:

Holy Ghost! – Holy Ghost!
Hard Mix – Defaults
Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West

The Set-Up

So a quick rundown of my class here in Korea. There’s 25 students, 16 from my cohort thats been together for almost 2 years, 4 from the cohort below us (all way cool and already an integral part of the crew) and 6 from a So Cal cohort. We’ve got 2 Korean sport mgmt students with us (Jin and Mihn Guk, they go to the “same university as chan ho park“; koreans are very proud of their national sports heroes) along with my professor dr. Choi. We ride around visiting korean sport related sites on this sexy whip:

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Our first day of class was awesome. We hit up Samsung Badminton center and played badminton with olympians…. Id never played before and i quickly learned that i really suck. While similar to tennis, the racket has a smaller surface area and the shuttlecock (thats wht they call the little feathered ball u hit) is tough to pinpoint. Nonetheless, it was a blast. I filmed a quick video of the badminton demo the olympians played for us and i’ll post it later. Here’s a pic of me with a former olympic gold medalist, whos now the mens team coach:

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The best part of the samsung visit was lunch. Holy shit was this good:

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The big rice bowl with veggies and mushrooms is ‘bibimbap’, theres korean bbq beef on the top left, halibut (so flaky and buttery) on the top right, beef brisket soup and kimchi (pickled cabbage, its the local specialty).

Our next stop was at KBS (the largest broadcasting company in S. Korea). We toured the facility and then met with Mr. Chung, who is a very well respected sports reporter ad documentarian. He’s like the Korean Ken Burns. We talked about everything from the mutually beneficial relationship of korean athletes with KBS to how Chan Ho Park becoming the first Korean to play in the MLB changed the face of sports media in Korea. We saw a rehearsal for the Korean SNL, ‘GAG’ and then visited an espn type show, where ex-white sox bullpen coach and korean legend Lee Man Soo was being interviewed. He was an awesome guy, took photos with us and chatted. Here he is (on the left) with dr. Choi:

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At coca-cola korea, we watched some presentations on marketing strategy and saw a video for their ‘Move to the Beat’ campaign at the 2012 London Olympics featuring Mark Ronson and Katy B. Not gonna lie, it was pretty sick. Definitely more focused towards a european audience, but i love me some Katy B.

This hardly felt like “class”. These visits are definitely making me think in new ways and pondering options of what to do with myself and my career when i get back to the States. The fact that i dont work for Comcast anymore hasn’t really set in yet… But my brain is starting to formulate ideas for the future, the future i’m trying to use this sport mgmt degree to create. I like where my head is at right now and this is only the beginning of the next step. Fuck… I havent even begun to tell you about last night…………..stay tuned.

Spinelli

Playlist:

Grieves – Together/Apart (fast becoming the album of the trip)
Katy B – Katy on A Mission
Kruder & Dorfmeister – Conversions
Memory Tapes – Seek Magic (Also on heavy rotation)
St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

Korea!

TravelBlog: Engage…. Just arrived in Seoul after a lovely 13 hour flight. I say lovely because they kept a drink firmly implanted in my hand the entire time. Cant say ive ever had that much to drink on a flight before… And with my classmates on board, we had a blast. All was peachy, ‘cept for the two little indian kids trying to outdo each other in a crying battle. Man, these kids hit some high pitch notes that would put Mariah Carey to shame…i watched ‘Drive’ on the flight and it was nuts. Reminded me of ‘Redbelt’ in a lot of ways…

We landed at Incheon airport in Seoul, picked up our bags and Dr. Choi, our professor, was there waiting for us with 3 Korean staffers, Jin, Hu and Minh Guk. Theyre sport management students themselves and are working with us this week. They gave me a shrimp burger:

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Heres me and my classmate Bernadette flashing our snazzy vip USF name tags, complete with schedules and a few helpful Korean phrases:

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Right now, im sitting on the bus, our chariot for the week, on the highway along the Han river. Lookin like a short stroll thru the area near our hotel/dorm before our 9am start tomorrow. We’re scheduled to play badminton with olympians at the samsung badminton facility, visit broadcast center KBS and an afternoon trip to coca-cola Korea, Dr. Choi’s old stomping grounds.

Ok, im tired, but super stoked to be here. It’s like 32 degrees out, which feels surprisingly nice. If this trip is half as good as my shrimp burger, i’ll be ok. Signing out.

Spinelli

Airplane Play List:

Little Brother – The Listening
Grieves – Together/Apart
Memory Tapes – Seek Magic
Cut Copy – Bright Like Neon Love
Phonte – Charity Starts at Home
El Ten Eleven – El Ten Eleven
El Ten Eleven – Every Direction is North