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2013 World Rowing Championships Tanegum Lake Chungju South Korea

Itinerary planning started in November 2012 for the Rowing World Championships in August 2013. It was soon realised that accommodation would prove difficult as the Rowing lake was about 3 hours from Seoul in an area not frequented by many western tourists and consequently hotels of a 3 to 4 star rating were difficult to contract there were also teams and officials from 134 countries who needed accommodation . We were pleased therefore to be able to arrange accommodation at the 4*Cheongpung Resort in Jecheon situated approximately 1 hour from the rowing lake.

In December a “political situation” arose in North Korea which led to much concern about safety of tourists and put a question mark over the staging of the championships.Understandably it was a very difficult and unsatisfactory situation for all concerned. However in April GB Rowing advised us they were committed to the event and requested that both the chairman and chief executive join our group which gave some reassurance that the Championships would take place albeit some concern still remained.

 The final number of 27 departed Heathrow on British Airways on 23rd August after a 3 hour delay  due to an electrical fault making the time onboard about 14 hours. We arrived in Seoul later than expected but our guide was waiting to great us and provide us with an interesting insight to Korea during our 3 hour coach journey to the hotel.

The coach plus driver stayed with us for the remainder of the week and the guide remained for the first two days as it was easy to get” lost in translation.” The hotel facilities were plentiful but unfortunately most had been closed the weekend prior much to our dismay as it was the “end of the season” which came as an unexpected and unwelcome shock. However after a few days we managed to become accustomed to the hotel regime and reluctantly accepted the unexpected.

Our coach driver was excellent,and delivered us each day to and from the main entrance at the course . The facilities at the rowing lake were very good  and were ideal for both the athletes and spectators alike with a variety of food and drink available together with some very interesting exhibitions and demonstrations by various craftsmen and women into the Korean culture.The rowing was as usual very exciting and the GB supporters were very vocal encouraging the team to their successes of 3 gold medals and 5 bronze. The rowing could not have ended on a better note when the Mens eight won the gold which was a first in the history of world championships.

We departed for Seoul on Monday 2nd September and after checking in to our hotel it was time for sightseeing in the capital.with the Gyeongbokgung Palace,Bukchon Hanok Village and traditional markets the most popular destinations. Certainly it was a worthwhile opportunity to experience the Korean culture albeit only for a day. After breakfast at 6am the following morning we headed to the airport for the flight home.Although at times the trip had been challenging apart from strained  vocal cords I found the experience immensely enjoyable and have many unforgettable memories being with a great bunch of people and being allowed to share their  highs and lows during the Championships.

Don Gillett