The QiRanger Adventures

Olympic Park

with 2 comments

There are many things in my life that I am thankful for. Probably one of the greatest experiences I had while growing up was getting the opportunity to see two Olympic events when the games were in Los Angels in 1984. From that moment on, the Games had a special draw for me. Not because I thrive on the competition, but because the Games represent what humans can achieve when we set aside our petty differences and come together for a little fun.

Over the years, the Olympics have changed. Some of the changes have been good, and some haven’t been that positive. I personally don’t like the inclusion of professional athletes. I think it may be one of the rot causes to the increases in doping that has plagued many sports in recent years… but that isn’t what this journal entry is about.

No, this entry is about my trip Saturday to Seoul’s Olympic Park.

Reading descriptions about the park, I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew it was going to be large, for Lonely Planet recommends hiring a bike to tour the grounds… something that I’ll do on a return trip. But to put it into more concrete terms, this place is massive! I spent three hours walking the grounds. I could have easily spent another 3 hours walking the trails, looking at more sculptures, and actually going in the museums that are on the grounds.

This way...

This way...

Getting to the grounds is amazingly easy. There are two subway stations right at the park, but the best entrance is located off of Line Number 8. Getting off the train, you follow the signs and see a giant staircase leading up to the entrance plaza. In fact, when you start ascending the steps, a sensation that you’re about to see and experience something amazing cascades over you. When you arrive at the top, the World Peace Gate awaits you.

From the top of the subway stairs

From the top of the subway stairs

As soon as I saw the gate, I broke down into tears. I’m not sure what it is about the Olympics, but more often than not, the tear gates flood when I witness something like this. I quickly became fascinated with the Peace Gate and snapped several pictures. When showing Jo the lot, I commented that I couldn’t believe how many I wound up taking (over 200 in all). This is highly unusual for me, as I normally only take fifty or sixty photos when traveling. But there was so much here that my fingers were constantly hitting the shutter button.

Many, Many Faces

Many, Many Faces

The one thing I really wish I would have found out more about were the several sculptures surrounding the Peace Gate. I’m sure they were part of an artistic representation of the world’s population and how everyone came together in Seoul for peace and games. But to be honest, some of the faces looked mean and angry. not necessarily something I would have wanted on display. But that being said, they look awesome. Each sits atop a pedestal outfitted with lanterns. I can only imagine what this place looks like at night… and is definitely on the list of places to see after dark when Jo gets here.

The underside of the gate features two large artistic representations of the four cardinal directions, people, strength, and a ton of other things. I was really amazed at the work that went into creating this. However, the feature that captured my attention is housed in the center of the gate.

Once more I was moved to tears when I saw the flame still burning. There’s just something about what it represents that resonates deep inside me. I wasn’t the only one that found the display moving, as slowly, people entering the park made their way here, paused, and then moved on to the other areas of the park.

Probably the most populated area of the park is this main entrance. There are several food stands, restaurants, and coffee shops (Starbucks and Coffee Bean). Many people will bring a picnic lunch and sit near the fountains or trees and enjoy the day. Others strap on skates and zip around the plaza. All in all, it is a very busy place. At the end of the plaza is a large monument. Again, it made me cry.

The Olympic Monument

The Olympic Monument

The Monument is a piece of concrete with a little twist in the middle. There are also five large orbs around its base, symbolizing the tenets of the Olympic Movement. At the base are small stones. Inscribed on each one is a name or group of people who participated in the games. Surrounding the entire monument is walkway that hosts the flags from each nation that participated in the games.

Olympic records

Olympic records

The Monument sits adjacent to two lakeside stages. Every hour the lake’s fountain erupts and plays a few songs before going silent once more. Another great feature of this portion of the park, is a large inscribed area that has the winners of each event during the games. It was really quite impressive to see. I took a few minutes to review the names and events. While I don’t remember much from those games, I did instantly recognize the Game’s mascot when I saw its engraving.

The trip was worth it just to see these markers, but there was so much more. From here you really start to see how massive this place is. There are several walking (bike riding) trails that probably total close to 10km in length and take you everywhere. The go up lush, green fields and eventually take you to the sporting complex area. These venues are still in use today and I had the opportunity to step inside one of the gymnasiums to see some martial arts competitions.

The other amazing thing about the park are the sculptures. Those at the entrance are only one example. The book says there on the order of two hundred sculptures residing at the park; however, I think there has to be more. I mean they are everywhere. Some are small, and some are more than 10 meters high. Some are even larger than that!

This really was a treat to come and explore and I’m looking forward to returning to the site once more to visit the three museums and take in the views at night. Until then, I leave you with the album.

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Written by Steve Miller

July 13, 2009 at 10:19 am

2 Responses

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  1. You’re totally ‘Korean’ in that picture! ;D
    Great blog and photos!
    Looking forward to exploring it with you. ❤

    Jo

    July 13, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    • LOL – Too funny. Glad you like that I’m turning Asian on you!

      Steve

      July 13, 2009 at 7:18 pm


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