F1 Korean Grand Prix

On Sunday I went to the Korean Grand Prix. To say this was awesome would be an understatement. Sam who I travelled with had the generousity to buy me a ticket for my birthday (30th….booo).  We headed down to Gwangju on Saturday with a few friends.  We managed to fit in a trip to the Kimchi Festival in Gwangju in the afternoon. South Koreans (and North Koreans) go crazy for the stuff. To the uninitiated it is essentially cabbage that has been left to ferment in a spicy sauce. Sounds gross. Tastes gross to many too. Bizarrely my picky tastebuds love it. We wandered around the huge festival. Checked out some Korean body poppers (poor I’m afraid) and looked at an interesting exhibition on the history, making and future of Kimchi. There appears to be endless ways to ferment and infuse Kimchi with various flavours; some appealing and some just plain disgusting/scary.

With Kimchi 101 completed we headed out for some beers and watched the Spurs game. I didn’t plan to get drunk but I definitely did. We stayed in a love motel near the free shuttle bus pick up point. Solely designed for Korean couples to secretly get it on they also double as cheap, extremely comfortable places to stay for travellers. £20 gets you a double bed, TV, internet and a sweet bathroom. I had a bath (while drunk). It also provides ten boxes of tissues that are supplied by various tabangs. Tabangs are coffee houses that do delivery; they also deliver a woman with your coffee who will also offer other services should you pay and request. Clever marketing. There is also a mirror on the ceiling to remind you of the seedy underbelly.

We woke early. Myself to a rather horrific headache. After sauntering down to the shuttle bus whilst heavily contemplating the English fry-up that I knew would not be appeasing me we joined the queue. We met some more friends on Saturday night and they joined us at the bus stop. When they arrived they asked if this was the correct queue and were immediately allowed to jump to the front! Whether this angered the other people I do not know but we were invited to join them and skipped a couple of busses and had first pick of seats. Nice.

We arrived in a very wet Yeongam at the circuit two hours later. We collected our tickets and managed to convince some gate staff to let us into a stand that was £300 more expensive! Nice!!!!!!!!! We watched a support race which ended after three corners following a huge pile up. A massive waste of time. They farcically awarded trophies to the drivers still. Seriously three corners.

We hung around the stand; waded through mud took numerous photos and eventually managed to get trackside at the start/finish straight due to some more cheekiness. Conveniently this was the same time the drivers did their back of a lorry parade lap. Sam shouted support to Lewis Hamilton who duly acknowledged with a wave and a nod; probably appreciative of the rather thin vein of British support. Jenson Button merely laughed at the gobby Brits.

The race was nerve-racking. Mostly due to whether it would happen or not. They started behind the safety car and duly stopped for 40 inutes due to surface water. They then followed the safety car for 15 more laps before racing finally got away. The noise was incredible and similarly the action. We saw two crashes and plenty of hair-raising overtaking. The journey home was a mission but we got a lift back from Gwangju with a friend. The only troublesome bit was finding a bus to take us back to Gwangju in the first place. A very tiring yet exhilirating weekend; thoroughly enjoyed!


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