On the Road World Tour 2019 - Asia, Europe & Morocco

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Grandmaster G
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On the Road World Tour 2019 - Asia, Europe & Morocco

Postby Grandmaster G » Thu Feb 28, 2019 10:41 pm

2019 ITS World Tour

“Time to rack up some Frequent Flyer Points”

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Official World Tour Logo

World Tours sneak around when you aren’t looking, well this one seemed to at least. The pre planning worked well and for once I actually had all the Black Belts for testing with me, this was a first. Add the Belts to the certificates, badges, Dan Bongs and Membership Passports to ensure my luggage was a hefty 46kg. Hopefully my status will allow me to get those through most of my flights whilst I drop of stuff at each stop a bit like a Hapkido Santa. Check in went smooth and I knew KSN Van was on the same flight, but catching up with him didn’t happen as he had some serious Duty-free shopping to do, at least I got a chance to say hi in the boarding queue.

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Flight #1 Sydney – Bangkok (Thai Airways Boeing 747-400)

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Testing out the new Samsonite luggage

I was again getting a chance to enjoy the Thai Airways 747 into Bangkok, as much as many grumble about these older planes, the Jumbo has been the most significant jet type in Airline history. No other plane has been as effective and is still in the air flying in for well over 40 years. I say enjoy the chance to fly one when you can those opportunities are quickly going away (Qantas will have retired all theirs by 2021). As always, the Thai inflight service was excellent, in my opinion the Asian airlines are the best for service. I was amazed at the very decent steak that was served during the lunch meal. So the ITS World Tour has begun and one of the major items requested for this trip was more food pics, so pull up a seat at the table to enjoy some culinary delights along the Road Warriors path.

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An upper deck shot from the 747, these chances are dwindling

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Steak on a plane, it tasted as good as it looked

Touchdown into my 2nd favourite city (After Sydney of course), Bangkok. I grabbed my booked transfer and headed into my hotel, surprisingly the trip went quickly which is unusual in a city so crowded (Bangkok has 8.3 million, almost double Sydney). After checking into my normal hotel (the one with the coffee club in the foyer), I headed out to drop off some items I was asked to bring, Chef Roland wanted some Vegemite and Eucalyptus Oil from Aus. In return he made sure I got an amazing steak, a 90-day dry aged Cape Grim T-Bone 460gr. If you ever visit Bangkok, I can recommend some amazing places to eat and Chef Bar is one of them.

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Chef Bar, what it lacks in size it makes up for in taste!

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T- Bone Heaven

Of course, as is normal when on the road, a far amount of time is spent in my hotel room on checking technique videos of those testing during the tour. Both for Black Belt levels and completing Instructor Qualifications. I did sneak out for my daily foot massage, have to look after the tools of the trade and to enjoy a great lunch at one of my favourite fine dining restaurants here, L’Atelier De Joel Robuchon.

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Even the restaurant fit out is amazing

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Oysters and more

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Bacon and Truffles make any salad good

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Squid pasta in a Lobster broth with Chorizo

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Desert was refreshing, Pineapple Mojito (no alcohol)

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Supercar parking? Bangkok is changing rapidly

A good couple of days in Bangkok, some fine meals and work done. The city is changing very quickly being more of a modern metropolis than more people think. Still with over 8 million people traffic is chaos, and pollution has become a problem, luckily the smog was gone while I was here. Onto my next flight and this time with German precision as I am flying Lufthansa into Frankfurt. I mentioned that the chances to fly the big twin engine aircraft was dwindling, and that is true. Even the new A380 will cease production in the next couple of years only after being around for just over 10 years. Some will be in flying for years to come, but that lifespan is a fraction of the Jumbo, so grab your chance to fly these big birds before you lose your chance.

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The transfer in Thailand, hmm no way to see the Speed now with the Phone there.

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Flight #2 Bangkok – Frankfurt (Lufthansa A380-800)

Boarding went smoothly, for a frequent flyer it is always a good feeling climbing the steps inside the aircraft for the upper deck. Lufthansa was as always very efficient; the flight was delayed due to the airspace over Kashmir being closed due to the conflict between Pakistan/India. So, we took a longer route over China and Russia. To give you an idea of how efficient Lufthansa is, they announced as we landed each passenger that was going to miss connections and they new flights that every single one of them had has a replacement, before we touchdown. I used the arrival lounge (another good Frequent Flyer perk) to grab a shower and some coffee before getting the shuttle to my hotel for the evening. Early check in was being denied even though I had e-mailed the hotel about it, until someone mentioned I could do it if I was a member of the Hotel Loyalty scheme, well apparently, I had joined over 10 years ago, so check in was granted.

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Hotel Room travel hacking

That gives you an idea of some of the ways I booked hotels, etc. Always leveraging Flyer Points, Hotel Points and in this case Expedia Points. I take a down day to catch up on some more signature videos, and get some sleep before the 7am flight the next day as I head to see our Spanish family. The alarm goes off way to early just after 4am and all my travel apps let me know that the first flight is delayed by at least an hour (that could have been an hour of sleep), anyway I am up, so off to the airport I go. Check in goes well, but with the delays it is fairly clear I will be pushed to get the connection in Madrid. The flight takes off and basically will arrive at the exact moment the other flight leaves, the attendant lets me know that arrangements have been made with ground staff to look after all those missing their connections. As soon as we deplane there is a representative with new boarding passes for al l the rebooked flights, now that is a good way to help with the issue. However, this is where it takes a turn, my midday flight is pushed back to almost 8pm which means I will miss the 4 seminars planned this evening. Time to go road warrior, after checking my options, I cancel the ongoing flight, arrange to get my bags back, grab an Uber to the Madrid Central rail station and book a train to Seville getting in just after 5pm which means after the 30 min drive, I am straight on the mats for the evening’s seminars.

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Flight #3 & Train #1 Frankfurt – Madrid - Seville (Iberia Airbus 319 & Renfe Rail)

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Set up on the train to get some work done.

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Enjoying the speed of the train

*Side Note* Flight Connections – You might see that at times I don’t take direct flights from one city to the next, this is due to a number of reasons. The main one is obviously that there might not be a direct light, but beyond that sometimes it is far cheaper to go via another city, and I also take into account whether the airlines are members of my frequent flyer alliance. That helps with both earning points, but also saving money through an extra luggage allowance, etc.

Tonight, I am on the mats for 4 seminars at KSN Eloy’s Dojang. The focus for the night is on Ground Defence and I run each of the groups through different levels of it, the kids also get a chance to do a little Poh Bak Sool (Belt Techniques). There is a good energy on the mats and the ITS buzz is already here and in full swing. I also take a couple of pictures to complete the first stop in the team challenges I have for this World Tour. Challenge #1 for Team CSD is to get a picture at each seminar location using an item from that location to produce a pain face. Challenge #2 for Team Spirit Test 2019 is to get a picture with the Dojang chief instructor at each location.

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Challenge #1 – Nunchaku locking with KSN Juan

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Challenge #2 – KSN Eloy - 100

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Seminar group – Junior Kids

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Seminar group – Senior Kids

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Seminar group – Falcons

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Seminar group – Adults

The next day was filled with ITS preparations, a visit to check out the training location, then onto a meeting with a local T-shirt producer, and for lunch we try out one of the possible menus for the ITS Celebration Dinner. In the evening there is a repeat of the schedule from last night with 4 seminars covering the junior ranked kids, more senior ones, Falcons (a little older) and Adults. I mix up the topics for the kids and for the adults’ work on Syllabus including instructor signatures for the local seniors. I also get to present 2 of the certificates from last years testing to CGN’s Paula and Juan.

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Challenge #1 – Stretching band lock with CGN Paula

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Challenge #2 – SBN Jose - 200

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Seminar group – Junior Kids

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Seminar group – Senior Kids

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Seminar group – Adults + Certificate Presentations

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ITS training venue - outside

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ITS training venue - inside

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A small strawberry snack

The next day starts with some Sun Bae training for the local seniors with a focus on more Instructing signatures, followed by another seminar for the adults. I break it into 2 sessions, the first on personal technical requirements and then back onto Ground defence with a step up from the basic techniques covered in the first session. After the seminar it was time to try out another Menu for the Celebration dinner, there were some good choices in both, so we decide to mix and match with a focus being on local dishes. To break up the day SBN Jose and the local seniors take me for a visit to the Italica, which are some local Roman ruins used as a back drop for a few scenes in Game of Thrones season 7. I imagine quite a few ITS participants will be enjoying a visit in September. That evening I have a meeting with the local ITS team to cover any outstanding items and make sure plans are well on the way for September.

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Seminar group – Adults

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Even the local Chemists have vending machines

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Some local flavours

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Look forward to enjoying this at the ITS dinner

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Italica #1

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Italica #2

The next morning SBN Jose has set up a different seminar with the focus on the local Parents, I start with a talk about my history and how it led into Hapkido and then how Kwan Nyom was born. That was followed by some basic techniques for the Parents so that they could see how easy and practical self defence could be. The parents had some good questions and the session was a good one. This is an idea that some other Dojangs might want to consider for future visits. After the seminar some downtime and time to enjoy a BBQ lunch with some of the seniors.

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Parents Info and Self Defence Seminar

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They are taking a proactive approach to the ITS

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The official ITS Hotel

Time to get back on the road, today flying to Amsterdam via Zurich, first up with an airline I haven’t been on before Edelweiss, which I find out is a subsidiary of Swiss Airlines which is actually part of the Lufthansa group. An interesting note, the pilot comes out and made his announcements before take-off from the actual cabin. On the way to the airport though we stop by the official ITS Hotel to check in on registrations and to make sure all is going well. Check in is smooth and so is the flight into Zurich, then its stop to take a break, weather apparently has caused my next flight to be delayed by an extra 3 hours, so at least it is time in the Swiss Lounge to get the travel report up to date.

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Edelweis Airlines

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Hi Captain

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Flights #4 & #5 Seville – Zurich - Amsterdam (Edelweiss Airbus 320 & Swiss Airbus 319)

I get into Amsterdam, check the Uber status and work out a taxi is cheaper/faster at this time of night. A quick ride into the city for my hotel over the next couple of nights. I always leave a couple of free nights in Amsterdam again for Video signatures, trip report if needed and to enjoy some excellent fine dining, in this occasion I will be visiting Vermeer (1* Michelin) and Ciel Blu (2* Michelin). The weather is cold, and raining so staying in works better, I do head out to grab a movie, and coffees but apart from that, video signatures are the order of the days. Dinners at both restaurants were excellent as normal, these 2 are my go to restaurants in Amsterdam amongst the many excellent ones.

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So many flavours on a plate

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Simply excellent

I did get a gift of the book written by the chefs at Ciel Blu, however it was a large format and very heavy so it stays with BSBN Henk until the ITS. No way I am lugging it around for almost 3 months. A side perk of dining alone, knowing the menu and food means it is not uncommon to be thought of as a reviewer so gifts, and visits to the kitchen happen quite frequently. After my 2 days of fine food, I grab the Dutch rail into Rotterdam and meet up with the team. After checking into the local hotel, we head out for a bite and then it is time for 3 of the local Provisionals to test for their Black Belts. I have been stepping up the testing here over the last couple of visits and this is not different, I am happening to say the 3 candidates are successful in earning their Kwan Nyom 1st Degree’s, welcome CGN’s Zhour, Earl and Kenny.

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Congratulations!

The next day includes some Sight Seeing as I get to visit the Euro Mast (a local tower). It has a good view over Rotterdam, it was an incredibly winding day so the tower swayed quite a bit and the viewing area was open so we got to enjoy being bounced around the level. We almost got BSBN Henk to open his long coat and turn him into a hang glider, maybe next time. After the view a snack at a local Icon the Hotel New York before heading back into the suburbs to meet more of the team. Dinner was at a local Steak place where we got a true meat eaters feast.

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Euro Mast View #1

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Euro Mast View #2

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Meat Feast – It was for sharing

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BSBN Henk goes full Caveman

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A local view of the Netherlands

That night we had Sun Bae training for the seniors with a focus on weaponry for the Black Belts, and weaponry defence for the coloured belts. I also spend some time with Master Henrie as he prepares for his 7th Degree testing at the ITS. The next day was seminar day #1 and we hit the mats in Hoogvliet for a range of topics, but as an overview I will call it a walk-through Kwan Nyom staring with circles into locks. After lunch I expanded the coverage and we worked on some old style kicking as well as Turbo Topics. There was also a chance to present 2 Black Belt certificates from last years testing and recognise KSN Andre as an IHA Senior Instructor. A good day on the mats in the Netherlands! Dinner was at an all you can eat Sushi restaurant where you got to order in rounds of 5 dishes at a time via a tablet.

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Seminar in Action

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More congratulations are in order

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The Saturday Seminar Group

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Challenge #1 – Self Defence from a chair with KSN Robert

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Challenge #2 – Master Henrie - 300

In the morning it was time to head south as we drove into Best for the Sunday seminar, this time at KJN Ron’s dojang. I started with some Wood Chopping techniques for the Kids and then moved onto advanced knife defence for the adults. It was another good day on the mats to wrap up my visit to the Netherlands, we are looking forward to having a good team join us at the ITS in September. After the seminar, dinner was at an all you can eat Tapas restaurant, interesting idea. Followed by a drive and drop off at a hotel near the Airport to be ready for the early morning flight out the next day.

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Sunday Seminar Group

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Flights #6 & #7 Amsterdam – Zurich – Budapest (Swiss Bombardier CS 300’s)

Check and flights went well, some slight delays but nothing missed or out of order. Both were with Swiss again but this time on the smaller Bombardier jets, it is funny how for a smaller jet the bathroom is actually about 30% larger than on the Airbus. I arrive into Budapest, Hungary (Country #57) and get my shuttle to the hotel which is located quite centrally. A quick check in, bag drop and I am out the door looking for dinner, some good choices in town, but Nobu was close so I enjoyed some Japanese Fusion as I knew I would be enjoying some excellent Hungarian over the next couple of days.

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Scallops Ceviche

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Japanese Wagyu

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Budapest @ Night

As I walked around on the first night, I got a feeling that Budapest was similar to Prague, with hints of Warsaw and Vienna. The next day I met up with my tour guide for a walking tour of the city and we put in some steps doing a combat sight seeing tour of each major site. It is a beautiful city with the Danube in the centre and the castle overlooking the city, very much again like Prague.

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Budapest #1

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Budapest #2

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Budapest #3

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Budapest #4

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Budapest #5 – Saint Istvan

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Budapest #6 – We have an eagle with arrow, here it has a sword

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Budapest #7

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Budapest #8

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Budapest #9 – Local Meats

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Budapest #9 – Local Market

So, after 20,000 steps being a tourist, what do you do next? Find a laundromat to get your clothes clean from the travels, of course the 30+ min wash cycle and the fact the laundry was under a Thai Massage place, meant a 30 min foot massage was on the cards. They are one of those things I never do at home but on the road, ahh a wonderful respite from the mileage on the legs. Washing done, it was back to the Hotel for a brief break before dinner.

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An amazingly clean laundry

I was looking forward to dinner as I had booked Hungary’s only 2 Michelin starred restaurant. It was reasonably close in walking distance, around 15mins and the walk was nice if a little cool. The meal, the service and the ambiance were all excellent. The tasty meal I enjoyed was called “Within our Borders” and every ingredient and recipe was from Hungary. If you are ever in this part of the world put Onyx on your list of special occasions. The next day was free but reality kicked in with a wave of signature videos couple with getting this report up to date. So I enjoyed a leisurely morning, grabbed a hair cut and shave from a local barber (another thing I enjoy on the road) and got stuck into some work. Tomorrow I am back on the road, this time on a bus to Croatia.

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Tomato, Tarragon, Sesame Seeds

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Water Buffalo Tartare, Shallot, Mushroom

After some Video signatures I was a tad peckish so I looked for some Road Warrior food and a nearby restaurant called Meatology 2.0 (I think there is 2 of them) ticked the box neatly. A nice Beef cheek filled the void, it was amusing watching some tourists at another table get the additional volcanic sauces mixed up, they give them with a skewer as the way to add the sauce in drops, not to be poured.... The next morning, I grabbed the Flix bus from Budapest into Zagreb, an easy trip and very affordable. Vlado met me at the bus terminal and we headed to a nearby restaurant for some Cevapi, it was probably the best I have had as well.

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Be careful with this stuff

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Bus #1 Budapest – Zagreb

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You know you are in Croatia when Cevapi appears

I am normally here a month earlier and the change in the year has a huge difference to how the city looks, not only that the locals are out and about enjoying some sunshine with markets and cafes open around the plaza. After tracking down my apartment hotel which actually sat overlooking the main plaza, I was off to the Combat Centar to oversee the nights class.

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Zagreb in the Sunshine

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Team Croatia

I help out with the next evenings classes to help get some of the local students ready for testing, plans for the weekend include 2 days of seminars with testing each day. Day #1 of seminar/testing would see some of the local colour belt students grading. For the first day I work some of the technical Philosophy of Kwan Nyom Hapkido and wrap up with some advanced free flowing knife defence.

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Congratulations

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Rule Breaker

Day number 2 was under way and we started with Dan Bong as it had been a while since I had covered it here. In the afternoon we shifted focus to have 2 of the local students prepare for the first ever IHA Black Belt testing in Croatia. It has been 5 years since I first came to Croatia. It is inspirational seeing the local students all start at white and test through to this stage where Eugen and Damjan were testing for 1st degree. It was a modified version of Spirit test as we don’t yet have other Black Belts here to help, but it was still a huge step up on anything they had done before. The tears in the crowd and from the candidates at the end proved it was definitely the right way to earn a Black Belt. I take great pleasure in welcoming both new CGN’s to the IHA Black Belt family and in all truth as the first real Hapkido Black Belts in all of Croatia.

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Seminar Group

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Welcome to the Black Belt family

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These are truly Bacon tasting!

An excellent visit to Croatia and history setting for the locals as well as the IHA with our new 1st Degrees. I look forward to having them join us at the ITS in September. From Zagreb it was time to jump onto my next 2 flights, this time off to Budapest via Warsaw, yes it seems like the long way, but if you read my earlier side note you will understand why. The flights went well and I touchdown into Bucharest where I am met by Antal to take the drive to Brasov. Antal was the white belt who joined us at the ETS last year and is a sword student of Sensei Anthony who recently joined the IHA as an affiliate member school.

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Flights #8 & #9 Zagreb – Warsaw – Bucharest (LOT Embraer 175’s)

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Brasov #1 – Interesting Item on the Menu

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Brasov #2 – Local Stew

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Brasov #3 – Downtown picturesque centre

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Brasov #4 – My hotel

Shihan Anthony had booked a local apartment hotel for me and it was not only very comfortable but located on the edge of the main square and had lots of history having been built in 1644. The next couple of days I started working with the very small but dedicated group with White and Orange Belt techniques as well as running them through the structure of both the IHA and Kwan Nyom Hapkido. It will be good to see how this seed grows into a future Dojang over time. I also had the chance to visit the local Dojang project which at the moment looks like rubble but has a lot of potential. Again it will be good to visit when it is up and running, it should look excellent based on plans.


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Brasov #5 – Checking out the new Dojang location under construction

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Brasov #6 – The small but committed Transylvanian group

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Romanian views

It was a short but good stay in Brasov before Antal dropped me at my hotel in Bucharest, wow, I was a little shocked at how nice it was. I got another Expedia special deal but didn’t realise it was going to be this level, and the fruit plate with wine in the room was an added bonus. A couple of luxurious nights on the road, far from the norm. The next day I hit the road with a local guide to see the city, he was bemused at my first request thought, laundromat please. We found a local one that took my washing and we planned to collect it after the tour. It was nice seeing the city, and easy to get around. Traffic here has its own charm, no one uses the idea of lanes, and they literally park anywhere.

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Bucharest #1 – The Swanky abode

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Bucharest #2 – Expedia VIP Perks

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Bucharest #3

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Bucharest #4

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Bucharest #5 – King Carol who led Romania into Independence

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Bucharest #6 – A blend of Old and New

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Bucharest #7 – The Parliament Building

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Bucharest #8 – Sad Police Car but cool name

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Bucharest #9 – Orthodox Church

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Bucharest #10 - Downtown

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Bucharest #11 – Lets move a church into there

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Bucharest #12

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Bucharest #13 – Cool Coffee

I got a good couple of hours looking around before returning to the hotel with my freshly washed clothes and got stuck into the trip report, and the update you are reading now. Tonight’s’ plans will see dinner at a nice restaurant, expect some pictures, and possibly a walk-through old town before my next couple flights into Poland.

*Side Note* The Romanian Parliament Building – It is the largest and heaviest administrative building on the planet (The pentagon is larger but not as heavy), it can be seen from the moon, it is bigger than Cheops Pyramid, it has 1,100 rooms, had 700 architects, in 1990 Rupert Murdoch tried to buy it for 1 billion, heating and lighting cost $6 million a year, only 30% of it is used and it sinks into the ground at almost 6mm a year.


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Romanian Currency – Most people are unaware Australia invented Plastic notes

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Scallops

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The perfect egg – their name and it was excellent

Another great meal on the road, and I took the shorter option of heading back to the hotel as I knew that the morning would sneak in too quickly and I was airport bound in the AM. A quick pre booked Uber and I am checked for 2 more flights, this time as I head towards Team IHA Poland. I get to enjoy Austrian Airlines for these flights, excellent inflight service and even though the inflight meals were small they were all tasty.

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Flights #10 & #11 Bucharest – Vienna – Warsaw (Austrian A320 & Embraer 195)

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Now that is a wait for bags

I grab my bags after about a 10min wait and head into the city, checking into a new hotel that wasn’t built on previous visits, maybe that is why it was cheaper. Still it ticks the boxes, centrally located for getting around, near coffee, good WIFI, clean and spacious room, oh and they also through in a decent breakfast buffet. After getting the room set up for Hapkido, it was time to head straight out for a nice meal, tonight I was off to the Amber room which scored highest on my favourite cuisine app – La Liste.

*Side Note* A worthwhile foodie App – La Liste. The app actually combines reviews from all different sources to give restaurants a rating out of 100. The top 1000 come up as Gold on the map, the next best Silver, etc. So, you open the app and it locates you and puts all the dots for these restaurants around you, if there are any of course. 3 Gold Dots in Warsaw, Amber Room + the 2 Michelin rated restaurants I have tried before.

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Amber Room outside view

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Deer

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Lavender Panna Cotta

After a very nice dinner, I head back to the hotel and get ready for the Hapkido filled weekend. In the morning I meet up with KSN Grzegorz and Marta (Locale Red Belt and Google Translator for my seminar). Today the seminar is being held in a sport hall as we had space problems with the Dojang, 60+ people on the floor enjoying a day of Kwan Nyom Hapkido. I started with basic techniques for all those new to our approach, then moved onto Knife, Kick and Gun Defence in the afternoon. It was a good group, with lots of energy and the day went smoothly.

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Getting ready for action

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Most of the Seminar Group

The next day was a busy IHA one, it kicked off with testing for KSN Grzegorz as he was working towards earning his 3rd degree, followed by a 2-hour grading preparation seminar class, a coloured belt test and the cherry on top was the first ever Kwan Nyom 1st Degree test. We had 18 testing in the coloured belt group and 2 testing for their 1st Degree, the feedback was that the testing was a lot harder than what they had seen elsewhere. I am pleased to welcome 2 new 1st Degree Black Belts into the IHA family, congratulations CGN Anna, CGN Bernard. I was happy to present BSBN Grzegorz with both his 3rd Degree as well as his promotion to IHA Chief Instructor status.

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Congratulations – BSBN Grzegorz, CGN Anna & CGN Bernard

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Coloured Belt Group

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Challenge #1 – Self Defence with a Tonfa

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Challenge #2 – BSBN Grzegorz - 400

After an incredibly successful day for both Team Poland and the IHA it was time to visit the now traditional Polish restaurant for a hearty meal, of course a Golonka was on the menu!

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Golonka – Before

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Golonka – After

The weekend was a huge success but by no means was the Hapkido part of my visit over, back into the Dojang on Monday morning for a Sun Bae class with a focus on Dan Bong, then off to visit some sites for ETSIII. It looked like we found the right place a training facility with a hotel attached, let the negotiations begin. Time for a local delicacy in the afternoon at a reasonably well-known local restaurant, called the Red Pig.

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Pierogi – Polish Dumplings

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Some famous faces

Tuesday was a free day, so time to get the trip report updated, clear the back log of technique videos and of course sneak in something extra Hapkido related, in this case a radio interview with Radio Polska. The interview was filmed as well and should be available online in the next couple of days, I will link it up once it is online. After the interview I took the last evenings free time to enjoy another good meal here in Warsaw, this time at Atelier Amaro the first Michelin Starred restaurant in Poland.

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Radio Polska

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Radio Polska Interview

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Cod Salsify Parsnip

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Royal Jelly Bee Pollen Honey

Back on the road the next day with a couple of flights, this time from Warsaw into Munich to connect into Helsinki.

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Flights #12 & #13 Warsaw – Munich – Helsinki (Lufthansa Embraer 195 & Airbus A320)

Touchdown Helsinki, Master Tapio is on transport and the drive into the city goes quickly, the flight arrived at 11:30pm so one benefit is less traffic. I check in to my now regular haunt – Hotelli Finn and grab some sleep before day #1 on the mats. The morning comes around way too quickly on the world tour and I am picked up by Lars one of the Provisionals testing during this visit, he brought coffee so things are off to a great start.

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Heating up the Mats in Finland

Day 1 went well with good energy and focus, I worked on both kicking and striking and how they could be used more practically in street situations, along with some time for miscellaneous techniques and signatures. There are 8 Provisional’s testing so there is also that energy on the mats adding to the mix. This will be a record number testing in Finland so plans are underway to make sure that it will work on the space we have. The evening was free so I headed off to try out a new Finnish restaurant that was well reviewed.

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Food in Finland #1 - Langoustine

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Food in Finland #2 – Chili anyone?

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Food in Finland #3 – The local Thai

3 of the 4 days were held at Master Tapio’s dojang – HMAC which also happens to be located almost next door to a Thai restaurant, so lunches were there to save time and travels. The food was good, and you be sure of that as many Thais could be seen eating there. It is a strange mix but a lot of Thai live in Finland, not sure about the weather change, but it seems to work. So, there are lots of Thai restaurants around, more than almost any other ethnic type. Day 2 went well and for dinner another good restaurant this time with the Finnish Hapkido Federation board members.

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Food in Finland #4

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Food in Finland #5

Saturday was the main day with senior belt testing up first, KSN’s Antti and Marko were on the mats testing for their 3rd Degrees. This was followed by 4 hours of seminars and at the end I announced the promotions for both of our new BSBN’s as well as some Instructor recognition. A brief break, some set up and we were underway for the Spirit Test. Due to the numbers there was some creative team switching to make sure everyone fit and we had enough Black Belts to help the Provisionals, SBN Pauli led the grading for his first time and did a great job. All the team worked hard and earned their 1st Degree’s in Kwan Nyom Hapkido, a huge step forward for Team Finland. I also had the honour of recognising one of our departed seniors with his Black Belt certificate presentation to his instructor BSBN Pertti, it was a poignant moment.

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We just tested for 3rd Degree

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Line up the troops

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Seminar Group - HMAC

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Instructor Recognition

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Congratulations new 3rd Degrees

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Spirit Test team - Before

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Spirit Test team - After

Dinner after was at the now local haunt the Thai Restaurant and we had record numbers for Finland, so that was good news for the evening as well as the restaurant. The morning rolled around and now with his new 1st Degree Lars picked me up for the drive to Myllypuro – BSBN Han’s Dojang. We stopped briefly by the harbour edge to enjoy a quick Finnish breakfast, a moose pie and warm blueberry drink. Today I had a days seminar with the local adults as well as a 2nd one for the kids, both went well and the Hapkido visit to Finland wrapped up.

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Food in Finland #6 – Moose Pie

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Challenge #1 – Self Defence with a Hanging Rope

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Challenge #2 – Master Tapio - 500

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Challenge #2 – BSBN Hans - 600

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Myllypuro Group - Adults

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Myllypuro Group - Kids

Another excellent visit to Finland, record black belts testing, great instructor recognition and high energy on the mats, hopefully Finland will be a strong part of the ITS in Spain. The morning was free so I fixed the washing incident, got some work done on the laptop and then headed to the airport with Master Tapio to wrap up this visit.

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Flights #14 Helsinki – Oslo (SAS CRJ 900)

Another easy flight this time with SAS and I am across Sweden into Norway for an early touchdown, grab my bags and head out to meet SBN Erik. I get a chance to check out his new ride the Tesla model 3 on the drive into town to my hotel. The instant torque is impressive, and it is a good car to drive here dollars wise, cheap fuel (Electricity), free toll roads and ferries along with government discounts/incentives. Personally, though I like a little more interaction, like at least the sound of my car, still it was an interesting ride. I check in for a night’s rest and then meet up with SBN in the morning early for our planned sightseeing travels.

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Norway #1 – A quick picture from the train

First up is a 4+ hour train ride from Oslo to Myrdal, with lots to see out the windows and the increasing snow as we climb the mountain it is a enjoyable ride. We then change for the train to Flam which whilst only going 20km takes an hour winding its way down the mountain to the fjord levels.

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Norway #2 – On the way to Flam

We get a small break in Flam to grab a coffee before our next leg, this time the 5-hour ferry from Flam into Bergen our destination. The ferry heads off on time and the ride is incredibly smooth along with some amazing vistas as we cruising through the fjords towards Bergen.

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Norway #3 – From Flam to Bergen on the Fjord

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Norway #4 – From Flam to Bergen on the Fjord

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Norway #5 – From Flam to Bergen on the Fjord

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Norway #6 – From Flam to Bergen on the Fjord

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Norway #7 – Entering Bergen

The ferry pulls in on time and we walk through the town to our hotel. As much as it was a long day of travelling with the trains and ferry the accompanying sights made it quite worthwhile. A much-needed nights rest before the next day where we head out to explore the town of Bergen including a ride up to the peak on the funicular. Bergen has its own charm including some very quirky buildings and as well as a unique way the locals speak. It is still Norwegian but a little stranger in its own way.

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Bergen #1 – Just one of the many quirky buildings

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Bergen #2 – A view over the city

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Bergen #3 – Looking down the Funicular

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Bergen #4 – McDonalds Bergen Style

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Bergen #5 – Agave syrup for your coffee

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Bergen #6 – They take their salmon seriously here

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Bergen #7 – Amazingly fresh seafood

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Bergen #8 – The Storm, a Skjold-class Patrol Boat that does 60 knots

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Bergen #9 – 12,170 Kilowatts from those 2 engines

As we headed back in the afternoon to the hotel, we notice an interesting Navy vessel parked near the hotel, a Skjold-class patrol boat that was constructed as a superfast, stealth missile ship. Quite impressive up close with its jet engines out back, almost as powerful as the Mustang…. Ok, ok with 12,140 kilowatts it’s a lot more powerful, just not quite as fast…. 60 knots is impressive on water but equates to about 110kmh on land, great for a boat. In the evening it is time to enjoy an excellent seafood dinner with some of the amazing Norwegian catch.

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Bergen #10 – SBN Erik takes on the Polar Bear

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Bergen #11 – Norwegian Seafood

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Bergen #12 – A night view

A good night’s seafood (Norwegian Lobster, King Crab & Mussels) dinner to wrap up this visit to Bergen. Then what always feels like a too short night before the early morning train ride. This time it is the 6+ hours from Bergen back to Oslo to be on the mats tonight for the scheduled Hapkido class. The train ride did drag a bit, but once I got back it was enough time to drop off the bags, recharge and head to the dojang to help out the local students with any problems they were having with their material.

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Lush Chips

Friday I was back on the mats, this time with the Back Belts as we worked through both their requirements and basic techniques for the instructor course. The Clipboard got a signature workout, In the afternoon, we shifted into testing phase. 3 of the local seniors were testing, CGN Christian for 2nd Degree, KSN Besim for 3rd Degree and SBN Carlos for 5th Degree. This was the first senior Black Belt test in Norway and it was an eye opener for the local Black Belts. Some nervous time ahead as they would get the results after Sunday’s seminar. That night was open so I headed off for an excellent meal.

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Restaurant À L`aise #1 – Langoustine Tartar

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Restaurant À L`aise #2 - Caviar

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Restaurant À L`aise #3 - Lemon

The food was very good, but it was an interesting evening as the manager asked if I was a martial arts expert, they google their guests, which isn’t uncommon in fine dining places, it helps them prepare better for the meal and service. From that discussion it turned out she was looking for a place for her daughter, and I of course sent her SBN Erik’s way, and one of the chef’s was actually a 2nd Degree in Taekwondo who had recently moved here from Singapore, so he was interested in finding a school too. At one stage the manager remarked that everyone in the kitchen were all watching me on YouTube, well that’s one way to get better service… Still the food, and service were great and I got some time at the end to chat with the Chef and Manager which was also enjoyable.

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Team Norway on the Mats

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The Saturday Group

On Saturday the training was focused on IHA material and only open to IHA members. So I went through the technical philosophy of Kwan Nyom and then showed them a bunch of tips, tools and rules as we covered all the junior concepts + bonus techniques. A good solid day of training, and to wrap it up a community meal in the Dojang were everyone brought in some food, a chance to relax with the local students. Including one home brewer who brought in some interestingly named beer.

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It seems I have a brewery here

Sunday was the official seminar day and the focus in the morning was on footwork. Whilst that might sound a little boring it led into Kick Defence, Punch Defence, and Knife Defence. The afternoon was Dan Bong, the Norwegians have a real love of the little stick so I made sure they got another dose. After the seminar I had the honour of presenting the first Kwan Nyom promotions in Norway, congratulations to KSN Christian (2nd Degree), BSBN Besim (3rd Degree) and KJN Carlos (5th Degree). It was another good visit to the Land of the Midnight Sun, Kwan Nyom has taken hold in the Frozen North and is being grown by the Vikings.

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Norway Seminar Group

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Congratulations!

Monday was free so I updated the trip report in the morning and then headed out for lunch with KJN Carlos, SBN Erik, SBN Terje and BSBN Besim. BSBN Besim took a scenic route to the restaurant which was also located high on the hills overlooking Oslo where I got to sample some more Reindeer and their famous Apple Pie. After lunch another visit to the Olympic Ski Jump and this time a chance to go to the top to enjoy the view before heading to the airport.

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Lawn on the roof, good insulation

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Reindeer – Very tasty

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Famous Apple Pie

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Hmm, why wouldn’t I want to be on a Giant metallic structure in a Thunderstorm?

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Beautiful Oslo

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Would you take the jump?

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A view of the Hills above Oslo

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Launch Pad – Ski Style

Checked in and ready to take 2 more flights as I leave the European part of the World Tour, heading south into North Africa with my flights to Casablanca, Morocco via Germany.

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Flights #15 & #16 Oslo – Frankfurt – Casablanca (Lufthansa A320 & A319)

Casablanca was a small break in the world tour and a chance to work on the ever-present Technique videos which constantly replenish themselves whenever I close my eyes. I attempted to catch a movie but passed on watching it in French, they only show English versions 2 days of the week. Of course, I sought out some decent dining and enjoyed a traditional French dinner and also enjoyed a Fusion Japanese/Moroccan restaurant. Plus a visit to Moroccan Hammam for the unique stone table massage/scrub, in this case after the rub down with what felt like a Solvol glove (Aussie reference to a very scratchy soap) it was onto a Chocolate wash and finishing up with a Coffee type powder that also had a heating agent, an interesting Massage to say the least. Now things took a curve, Yassine (one of the Black Belts in Fes) had checked on the location of my Fes hotel and found out that they no longer took Expedia bookings. So, a call to Expedia and they call the hotel to find out that my confirmed booking is indeed no longer that. I basically spent about 2 hours over the day getting a replacement place to stay, Fes was almost full, and when they did find a place, they were unable to contact the hotel to confirm it.

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Sushi in Casablanca of course

The journey from Casablanca into Fes was on the local rail system, I know its quite enjoyable in Europe so now to experience it here. I had pre-booked tickets with seat numbers, basically you have to book 1st class to guarantee a seat and its only a couple of dollars extra. The 4-hour ride was fine, don’t expect any extra’s apart from an old plush seat and a guy pushing a basic junk food cart. No power sockets, Wi-Fi or any facing dining cart here, oh how spoilt we have become. I am met by team Morocco at the train station and it is off to grab a local late lunch before looking for my hotel, lets hope its there.

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Moroccan Rail – First Class

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Dar Siham
The hotel was indeed there and the local family running after it made sure I was looked after, an enjoyable stay. Over the next 3 days I got to work with Master Omar on introducing him to Kwan Nyom Hapkido, spend some time with the local Black Belts who enjoyed some Dan Bong and then wrap up with the kids and some basic self-defence. Throw in some local Dojang visits and lots of local food to complete this visit to Fes. The local team are pledging to work on building Kwan Nyom here and I am looking forward to having some of them join us for ITS Spain.

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Fes Day #1 – Intro to Kwan Nyom Hapkido

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Fes Food #1 – Couscous

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Fes Food #2 – Hotel Breakfast

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Fes Day #2 – Black Belt & Instructors Class

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Challenge #1 – Do you think he would Bite?

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Challenge #2 – Master Omar - 600

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Roads are not just for cars here

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Fes Day #2 – Dojang Visit

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Fes Day #2 – Dojang Visit

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Fes Day #2 – Dojang Visit

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Fuel Pumps are kept inside buildings and locked away

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Fes Day #3 – Final Seminar Group

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Fes – Old Medina Markets #1

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Fes – Old Medina Markets #2 – Some Bling

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Fes – Old Medina Markets #3

Today would be the my most challenging travel day this world tour, and in some ways almost ever. Checking in at Casablanca went smoothly, and the security was on par to last visit, with 4 passport checks, and 2 metal detectors. The main thing they were interested in was how many Euros I was carrying, and of course checking that the other guy in plain view who stamped my passport actually did. Next stop Frankfurt and the connection across the Atlantic. The full days travel report will start off the USA report as I have yet again hit the word limit, I can fit in one post on the forum.

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Casablanca Airport has been heavily updated, but still not really used

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Flights #17, #18 & #19 Casablanca – Frankfurt – Newark – Richmond (Lufthansa Airbus A319 & Boeing 747-8i + United Embraer RJ135)

That concludes the 2019 World Tour Report for Europe + Morocco, head over to check out the USA/Mexico one!

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Kelvin Zeini
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2019 - Asia, Europe & Morocco

Postby Kelvin Zeini » Mon Mar 04, 2019 6:41 am

Wow! The trip looking amazing already sir.

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Jehad Batta
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Location: Parramatta NSW Aus

Re: On the Road World Tour 2019 - Asia, Europe & Morocco

Postby Jehad Batta » Tue Mar 05, 2019 10:25 pm

Thanks for the trip report thus far GM G. Im really impressed with the on flight food and the steak looks nothing like ive seen on a flight. Looking forward to the next leg, of the ITS world tour.

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Katherine Cai
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2019 - Asia, Europe & Morocco

Postby Katherine Cai » Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:13 pm

Hi GMG,

Hapkido Santa never fails to make me chuckle. Red jacket any time soon, Sir?
Loving the food photos, makes me want to go out and experience the world more.

Safe travels!

Katherine

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Kelvin Zeini
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2016 1:39 pm

Re: On the Road World Tour 2019 - Asia, Europe & Morocco

Postby Kelvin Zeini » Wed Mar 06, 2019 2:51 pm

The L’Atelier De Joel Robuchon is quite impressive, the meals comes as a piece of art! very nice sir. I have to admit I never heard of Squid pasta in a Lobster broth with Chorizo, I would love to try this one day sir.
Thank you for the updates GM, the photos are as always amazing.

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Kelvin Zeini
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2019 - Asia, Europe & Morocco

Postby Kelvin Zeini » Thu Mar 07, 2019 10:34 am

Great to hear the trip is going smoothly GM. Access to extra features at the Airport Lounge definitely will help a long flight ahead!
Looking forward to hearing about the next stop sir and about first Hapkido Seminar!
Safe travel sir!

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Kelvin Zeini
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2019 - Asia, Europe & Morocco

Postby Kelvin Zeini » Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:34 am

The ITS Venue looks fabulous GM, is the whole floor covered with mats? That ancient Romans city will be awesome for some photos, I can't wait sir.
Looking forward to hear all about your next stop sir!

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Grandmaster G
Hae Jang Nim
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2019 - Asia, Europe & Morocco

Postby Grandmaster G » Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:54 pm

CGN Kelvin, we will be bringing in mats for a big chunk of the floor.

Regards

GM G

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Peko Pekovic
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:31 pm

Re: On the Road World Tour 2019 - Asia, Europe & Morocco

Postby Peko Pekovic » Wed Mar 20, 2019 7:22 pm

Great photos, Sir!

Some of those meals seem to include combination of food that I wouldn't think would work together, but they must do. And presentation is amazing.

I look forward to see more pain faces :D

Regards,

Peko

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Kelvin Zeini
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2019 - Asia, Europe & Morocco

Postby Kelvin Zeini » Thu Mar 21, 2019 10:00 am

Great updates GM, thank you.

I am glade I took GM's advice and tried those Fig Wraps at Black Rose that night sir, although I understand they are not even close to the quality of these plate you showed us sir, however I have a bit of understanding why it is such a joy to have a fine meal. These food photos are just amazing, the layout is a fine art.

I liked those scene photos, but I can see how the overcast affect phone cameras, here a good LSR lens can make a huge difference by capturing more depth and better colors. Saying that, I still believe GM's phone is taking an amazing shots way better than any iphone sir, specially those night shots, they were fantastic sir.

Great to hear about the Kwan Nyom Hapkido Spirit Tests and the seminars, I still get emotional every time I see new candidates achieved this amazing goal of earning an IHA Black Belt.

I wish GM even more great time and safe travel.

Thank you GM

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Chris Berrios
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2019 - Asia, Europe & Morocco

Postby Chris Berrios » Thu Mar 21, 2019 10:10 am

GMG,

Budapest looks fantastic, might have to add that to the bucket list. Note to self: Do not look at GMG's trip report when I am hungry! Thank you for the posts Sir, love the pain faces.

Thank you

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Matt Hall
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:40 pm

Re: On the Road World Tour 2019 - Asia, Europe & Morocco

Postby Matt Hall » Sat Mar 23, 2019 9:26 am

Hi GMG,

As always the trip report is making me hungry. The Squid pasta in a lobster broth with chorizo in particular with the meat fest with BSBN Henk a close second.
Loving the travel pics and the pain faces!

Safe Travels

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Luke Dilonardo
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:11 pm

Re: On the Road World Tour 2019 - Asia, Europe & Morocco

Postby Luke Dilonardo » Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:36 am

Hello GMG,

Thank you for the update! Food photos look great as always!
Amazing thinking on your feet, glad to hear you made it to the seminars. Spain looks amazing! Really excited to for the ITS!

Safe travels Sir, I look forward to the next update!

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Jehad Batta
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Location: Parramatta NSW Aus

Re: On the Road World Tour 2019 - Asia, Europe & Morocco

Postby Jehad Batta » Fri Mar 29, 2019 8:35 am

Thank You GM G,

Its great to see the amount of promotions to 1st degree across our European families.

Also I would've love to seen a clip of the dinners eating their food after pouring the volcanic sauces instead of dabbing it on. Im sure it would've been entertaining.

Many thanks

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Chris Berrios
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Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2010 7:04 pm

Re: On the Road World Tour 2019 - Asia, Europe & Morocco

Postby Chris Berrios » Fri Mar 29, 2019 3:32 pm

GMG,

Wow, I found the Romanian Parliament Building stats incredibly interesting, that power bill is astronomical, a greenies nightmare! Sir, is the Brasov dojang actually under construction??

Regards

Chris


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