Friday, January 14, 2011

Seoul, Beijing, Frankfurt and Kandersteg: from rice to nice

Today, Kandersteg, after a big week of travelling.
There was hardly any ice left, it was even so warm that we could climb in a top!
Here my report of the last days in Korea and China and the iceclimbing Worldcup...

Going abroad is always something for me. It’s a must.

Getting to know different lifestyles, cultures, people, nature, views.

Going to Korea, not just Seoul the want-to-be-Western capital but also Cheongsong, the not so rich apple-farmers region. And later we even had the chance to visit Beijing. Strange to see how two countries, almost neighbours can differ so much and both be beautiful in their own way. And that next to the climbing, the actual reason I traveled all the way.

The finals, the last and most difficult thing of a competition.

Nerves, coldness, waiting, I missed it all, just missed it. I ended as number then less then a move away from the finals.

Finals with an exciting time battle for the two strongest men: Markus and Hee Yong.

And a painful judging mistake in the womens finals.

Already in the semi-finals we were surprised of the inconsistent judging considering clipping and back-clipping draws in advantage of a Korean climber. I was told in de qualifications that I touched the edge of the wall, I was sure I didn’t touch it so didn’t worry about it. Later I noticed some people were disqualified because of touching the edges, not even using the edges. Strange...

In the finals Angelika was last to climb. She climbed impressive during the semi-finals, making us confident of her strong position. She was the winner, for sure.

She missed a clip because of the wind that blew the twist behind the wall. Therefor she climbed back a couple moves, clipped it and climbed on. Her rope tightened as the judges found she had to come down. She refused and climbed on, and at the next draw here rope was tight again, she was forced to quit her climb. Over 11minutes in a cold isolation it was her turn again after Markus just finished his route. Cold, stressed, nervous she stood there again. What a shame it was she had to wait even longer because yet another draw hung wrong on the edge of the wall. Even colder she started her climb.

She climbed, clipped and fell! At the point she was just drawn out of the route! We thought a hold broke, Angelika wasn’t too sure about it. Exhausted, disappointed, cold, angry, confused she wasn’t even in the motivation to climb again. The routesetters were not even told to check the hold afterwards.

She became 7th and Maria Tokolina from Russia took first place.

What a shame!

If we ever want to get climbing more professional we should have consistent, fair, understanding, experienced and equal judging. We shouldn’t accept the judging as it was on this competition. This doesn’t count for all judges, we know who was fair and honest and who wasn’t. Please, UIAA, for the next competition, give us fair, equal, honest, democratic, experienced, liberal, professional judges.

Just a week went as fast as a flash. Just back in Europe on our way to Kandersteg I’m daydreaming still of all the views I’ve had in Cheongsong, Seoul and Beijing.

On the airport I wondered: where do all those people live? What will they do when they’re back home from work? Will there be a husband there, a grandmother, maybe a child? What will they eat, drink? How would they dress when they’re back home? What post do they get, as much newspapers, advertisement-junkmail?

I’m interested in how people, communities and governments create life and how it differs from what I consider as ‘normal’? Going out of your own town, country, continent makes all you know just relative.

So there we are, competition long behind us (one day) and eating some strange fish, leaves, raw beef, and a soup of hot water and some rice corns.

Back in Seoul is was overwhelming to see the enormous shopping streets full of Western look-a-like stores, proppers in front of the stores, big masses of young people and that all next to little alleys full of little stands with fake North Face jackets and fish snacks.

Unfortunately there was too little time to visit the O2-gym of climber Hee Yong Park. It has a big iceclimbing wall and drytooling wall, as we should have in Europe in every gym.

Together with Stephanie we were stand strong, become stronger, we should have a long competition wall somewhere in the alps, for us to train on before the competition season starts. A 30m. wooden wall to kick our crampons in, with holds as we find then on the comps in Saas Fee, Cheongsong and Busteni. To become strong and experienced before the seasons starts instead of during the competitions.

So hereby a call to all gym/wall owners/millionaires in the Alps/Netherlands: please sponsor us with a training wall :)

Tuesday already, time to leave for our 3+23+11 hour trip to Frankfurt. Over 23 hours on Beijing airport. To our surprise we figured we can get a temporally visa for China for this short amount of time. So there we went: to Beijing. By train and subway we arrived in the centre.

The first thing we noticed was that the Chinese are far not as polite as the Koreans. No bows, but spitting on the ground, even in the shopping malls, not waiting till all left the train but already try to get in...

The second thing....waiting for the customs we saw three Saudi women and one man. The women were fully covered in a Burka. And suddenly I realised how lucky I am by being born in the Netherlands instead of Saudi Arabia... What a freedom I have...
The third thing...we walked up the stairs out of the subway and stood in front of a big temple. Waaauw, welcome to Beijing!

What we missed a bit in Korea, the classic ancient buildings, were overwhelming in China. Just all looked like in a Chinese movie. All stereotype looks I had of China are true. People really do walk in the traditional dresses (not all though) Peking-duck really is sold here, the temples are real, and it’s not as dangerous as they write in the books.

The Tianmen square was closed. But secretly we walked into the forbidden city in between some Chinese that went for a piano concert. A bit alert we suddenly stood in the forbidden city between huge walls and even bigger ancient buildings. Oh, shit, how do we get out again without being noticed?

It was cold, we walked fast looking around, walking passed the security like it as completely normal that we were there. We walked on, passed some security standing on blocks, looking over all people in not understandable Chines we were pointed at and realised it would be better to turn around...we passed a gate again, all security suddenly woke up, pointed us back, we sudden walked back, they closed the gates and we were out again, safely. Hmmm, that was actually quite easy, lets not try it again.

We didn’t feel that lucky... :)

On the way we bought some cookies and tomato juice, drank it inside the shop as it was really cold outside, even for iceclimbers it was cold and we walked on again. Without a map, but armed with a note with some chinese writing. The most important word there stood was ‘airport’. In case we got lost, we always could ask a cab to drive us to the airport again...

Suddenly we got in a big, big shopping street full of expensive clothing and jewellery. We found a MacDonals but were looking for a pizza place. With just about an hour to reach the subway again (after 10:30 the subway would stop riding, so we had to get in again before) we decided to enjoy a burger, all better then the rice, cold boiled vegetables and noodles we had the rest of the week. And much better then the weird creatures moving around on bbq sticks sold on the streets...Never seen living scorpions on sticks as food, never seen flying lizards, sea-horses, tarantulas, cockroaches and chickens-with-head-and-feet as delicacy...What is our European food actually simple compared to the Chinese market we saw (except of the Icelandic sheep-balls-in-sour, boiled lab-head-with-brain of course)

Time to go back to the airport and sleep.

We watched a episode of the ‘Doctor Who’ series and fell asleep.

On 11:50 the next day we finally had our flight, home, to Frankfurt.

My phone stolen/lost and tired we arrived. Ulrich picked us up and gave us the best meal we’d had in that week. Thank you for your hospitality!

Now, we’re almost in Kandersteg, just a kilometre to go. We’re here again. Where my iceclimbing ended in February a year ago. Time to pick up what I’d left behind.

It’s 2 ˚C, too warm for the ice, but hopefully good enough to give us a good drytool training time for the next competition.

That will be Saas Fee in more then a week time...

Let’s train, let’s get strong, let’s enjoy what we enjoy most: climbing!

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