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Planes, Trains, and Songthaews: The Adventures of a Seoul E-Land Fan Abroad Episode 3

Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? There have been six games that have passed since I last checked in and I believe it is time I give a bit of a rundown of what has been going on.

I was planning to do this a little sooner but it appeared that Seoul were going through a bit of an early season crisis so I held off until now. However, I needed to get this one published sooner rather than later because I actually attended one of the games in this article!

Yes, it is true, Michael was no longer an armchair support, albeit for one day. Nevertheless, follow me now for what happened toward the end of spring as a Seoul E-Land fan living in Thailand.

The Road to Seoul

The last time you joined me on this, I was currently in 42-degree weather on a bus to Buriram, watching Seoul squander a two-goal cushion against Seongnam FC. Well after I managed to get over the annoyance of that draw, I spent three wonderful days in the city of Buriram. 

There I was involved in many Songkran activities. For those who do not know, Songkran is Thai New Year, and it traditionally involves multiple water fights in the street. This saw me soaked to the bone in water as I sat on the back of a motorbike rushing around the city centre.

This was not the relaxing weekend before Korea I had in mind. However, it was a memorable one and soon it was time to get back to Bangkok to fly to the land of the morning calm. After saying goodbye to the better half and promising I would not go missing in Seoul if E-Land pulled off a derby day win, I was on a 3rd class sleeper train to the capital.

No for those who are not too familiar with Thai transportation…. It is quite interesting. For the grand total of 262 baht, which is around £5.70 I was on an eight-hour train on what was nothing more than benches to sit on.

As it was Songkran, the train was packed and these were not suitable for sleeping on benches. It was a very long night and I hardly slept. What made the situation worse was that I realised halfway through the train ride that I had left my Korean bank cards in my condo in Pattaya.

The plan was to spend the day in Bangkok before flying to Korea in the evening, however, that went out the window. So 7a.m. rolled around, and I ended up at the domestic airport, Don Mueang in Bangkok, where the train terminated.

Think Michael, think. What am I going to do? The domestic airport does not have buses to Pattaya and I am not forking out money for a taxi. I realised my best option was to try to wade through Bangkok and get to the international airport, Suvarnabhumi. As I was about to find a taxi to take me, I saw a free shuttle bus to Suvarnabhumi as long as I had a flight going out that day.

Great! I jumped on the shuttle bus to the airport, then a Pattaya bound bus was sat there waiting for me with open arms, success. It was going very smoothly until got off the Pattaya bus and jumped on a 20p Songthaew back home. For those of you that do not know what a Songthaew is. They are a very unique mode of transport in Thailand. They are basically a pickup truck with seats in the back. It has a roof but no walls. Add this to the fact that Songkran was still going on, you can guess what happened next. I arrived back in my condo, tired and dripping wet.

After sleeping and collecting my bank cards, I was back on the bus to Suvarnabhumi airport. On the way to the airport, I started to inspect my Korean bank cards and to just add to the luck of the day, found them both to be expired. It was a wasted journey. 

Oh well, soon I cruised through immigration and security and I found myself back on the plane to Korea.

Hello, Old Friend

I landed early in the morning and I was exhausted. Although, I did quickly feel right at home as I was already asking people to move out of the way so I could walk to immigration at Incheon Airport. Why do people walk so slowly when they get off the plane? I never understand.

Soon I was on the train to Gangnam and I finally arrived in my friend Roddy’s apartment (The Seoul E-Land drummer). He was putting me up for the two nights. After a nap, the evening was spent with old work colleagues and some much-needed lemonades. The next day was upon us and it was derby day…

I was ready. Black tracksuit bottoms, black jacket, black cap. I was dressed to impress and impress I mean impress only myself. Can I also remind everyone here I have gone from 42-degree weather to about 13-14? I was freezing the whole time I was there.

We arrived at Mokdong and met up with Guncheong, the Seoul E-Land fan group for some refreshments before the game. For the game itself? Well, we all know how it ended. Maybe that is why it took me so long to get this article out.

It was nice meeting old faces again and it truly was a blast from the past. However, it gave me a great closure to know that it will probably be a long time before I am back in the land of the morning calm again. Well, unless Seoul makes the playoffs…

Lose, Win, Draw

It is the weekend now and I am back in Sunny Pattaya, after a crazy few days celebrating the end of Songkran in the city (Yes, it was still going on when I returned) I sat down, coffee in hand to watch a Seoul E-land side a shell of their former selves against Gyeongnam FC.

If returning back to work the next day didn’t give me the holiday blues, then the 3-1 loss certainly did.

Hope was running low at this point in time, the next game was Asan and we always get beat by them. To add insult to injury, the better half was not feeling the best and had to sit this one out. She is slowly becoming more and more of a Seoul E-Land fan every day, I know come the playoffs she will be an avid supporter of the Leopards.

With this in mind, I knew I had to keep calm at home whilst she rested…. Well, thank you very much, Seoul for putting me in her bad books. How can you choose that day of all days to go and smash your own record for the highest ever goal line deficit in the league and ruin Asan 5-0.

This team has already given me heartburn and joy this season, but on this day, it also put me in the doghouse for the remainder of the evening. As you can see in the photo above, I was on delivery duty to make a mends.

To be honest there was not much to report in the Chungbuk Cheongju game. It was more of the same, I sat at home, counting the pennies, trying not to go over the top and think we would win the league because we beat Asan 5-0. The 1-1 draw quickly put me back down to earth. I should have pre-warned you that this article was a bit top-heavy. The best game was probably the first one, I commend you on continuing to read.


Everywhere You Go, Always Take the Weather with You

Well here we are now in the final two games before I publish this one and It was a very wet and rainy Pattaya on this Saturday morning. The weather was no better in Ansan as Seoul took on the Green Wolves.

As the thunder and lightning lit up the seafront, I was watching a soaked E-Land team run riot over Ansan Greeners. The similarity in weather made me feel a bit like I was there at the game. After the third goal went in I actually went and stuck my head out the window!

I wanted to be part of the Seoul E-Land faithful, soaked and full of adrenaline. It looked like Seoul was back in business and I was once again looking forward to the first midweek league game of the season.

Mid-Week Wanderers

Well, work is back up and running again at full capacity and I am flat out at the moment. I have a lot of things to do with so little time, however I always have time for Seoul.

I finished work at 4:30 and hitchhiked a ride home off the football coach at work to my condo. I bolted upstairs to finally have just enough time to hook up the trusted old K League TV to the television. Seoul in the past have done poorly in midweek games so I was not expecting much. How wrong could I have been? 

Seoul smashed through Cheonan 4-0 and I was once again on cloud nine. I wanted to go out and celebrate, however with it being a work night, my evening was me being dragged around a supermarket, filling up a shopping trolly with supplies. Wednesday truly was an emotional rollercoaster. 

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Can it be Like this Forever?

So, are Seoul actually good again now? I am too scared to say, all I know is that they are in fine form and currently look like world-beaters. Seoul have once again given me the hope that they are going to take the K League 2 by storm, however, those who have read my publications for a long time know that it's the hope that kills you. 

I will check in again after a couple more games and hopefully, I will continue to be as chirpy as I am toward the end of this article. Who knows? Maybe Seoul will sit at the top of the mountain come the time of episode four of this little series I created. Here is to hoping.

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