Panoramic view of the Incheon harbour. The hotel is the white building on the right. I am on the seventh floor, second window from the left. Three pictures merged into one, using Panorama Maker.
I landed safely yesterday afternoon on Incheon International Airport.
Not much to say about the trip itself. In Frankfurt I had to wait 3,5 hours. That is a bit long, but the advantage was that I could check in early on the intercontinental flight and that I had a choice of seats. My experience is that, if you ask for it, you'll get a special seat if it is available. So I got a seat in the front of the ecomony class (row 31), where it is much less crowded than in the back of the plane. It is next to the pantry, so it is also a lot easier to get a drink. Now don't get me wrong, I only drank two glasses of wine, but a lot of water.
We landed around 13:00 hours on Tuesday, as planned. I even slept a little bit on the plane, unusual for me. "Somebody will meet you at the airport", it had said in one of the e-mails. And behold, two gentlemen were waiting for me. Very friendly, but they hardly spoke any English. What I had expected was somebody that would explain to me where I had to be on Friday. Instead, they took me to their car and headed off to a hotel. So the organisation had assumed that I wanted to stay in the same hotel in Incheon where I would be from Friday onwards.
Another example of a sloppy organisation? Definitely not, I think, it was a misunderstanding, but also very thoughtful. The hotel is expensive, but I am staying at a discounted rate of about 60% of the official price. This is also a different hotel than was announced, so I probably would never have found it if they had not brought me there. I did not forget to cancel the Hilton.
View from the hotel room just before sunset (18:00). China town is on the right hand side.
The Paradise Olympos Hotel and Casino
That is where I am staying. On the top of a little hill, overlooking the harbour industries on one side, and Incheon China town on the other side. It does remind me a little bit of the Panorama hotel in Zagreb where I stayed briefly during the 2002 European Go Congress. That also had a casino (which I didn't visit), there I also stayed on the top floor and the rooms also had this feeling of past grandeur. In Zagreb, several teams of basketball players were staying in the same hotel. Here we have some national soccer teams, from Nepal, Vietnam and Oman. Holland = Hidding.
The food and drinks in this hotel are what you could expect from an expensive hotel. A coffee in the lobby is 5,400 won (about 5 euro). The meal I had yesterday was 29,500 won, seems reasonable, but add to that 8,000 won for one beer plus 10% service charge plus 11% VAT for a total of 45,375 won ... I have no reason to complain, but I do think a number of participants from some countries will find it difficult.
The first day I didn't see any Baduk, but I did see two elderly gentlemen playing Korean Chess near the train station. Very loadly, they banged the pieces down on the board.
Ever noticed that there are no seat rows with number 13 in airplanes? Well, this hotel hasn't got a fourth floor. The floors are numbered 1,2,3,5,6,7,8. I vaguely remember having read something about four being an unlucky number. Looking closer, there is not even a room number ending in 4. I am in 736, there is no 734, no 704, no nothing--4.
But what is wrong with number 17? The Lufthansa plane that brought me to Frankfurt did not have a 17th row either. The row were numbered 1-12,14,15,16,18...
Climbing a hill
Today I walked through China Town, which is built against a steep hill. I went to the top of the hill, it wasn't as bad as climbing the Alhambra last year... The pictures for the panorama were taken there. Then walked to the shopping part of this area with a brief visit to the local market. It was still early and very quiet, see the next page for some pictures. Lots of unknown food. After a couple of hours it looked like it was going to rain (which it did not), so I went back to the area near the hotel. The picture of the chess players was taken there.
While I was writing this, I got a phone call from the reception that there were some people to meet me. That was the organising committee. They hired a student, Cindy (sic), as an interpreter. I also met the first two players that have arrived here. One of them, Chris Rafferty from Ireland, had almost exactly the same story about how he got his ticket.
Did we have some questions, asked Cindy. Yes, does she play Baduk? No she doesn't and it is not very popular in Incheon, she added. She will be back tomorrow afternoon. Chris promised to teach here the rules then. But we need board and stones, and there are none yet in the hotel.