Movin' and shakin'

Trip Start Sep 28, 2012
Trip End Oct 03, 2012

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Flag of Korea Rep.  ,
Sunday, September 30, 2012

After having an earlier night (I was asleep by 1 am) we were up and ready to go much earlier than usual. My plans for the day revolved around one thing, meeting a Korean English teacher named Min Seon from my school who had gotten us tickets to a drum performance. I wasn't meeting her until later in the afternoon so I figured I would follow Nina around for the morning. We grabbed breakfast and then jumped on the subway to head over to Itaewon where many of the shops are.
It didn't take long for us to get across the city and soon we were strolling through streets lined with shops and crowded with people. 
I wasn't really planning on buying much, but Nina had a long shopping list of things that she wanted to pick up. I trailed after her as she darted from shop to shop, picking up jewelry and poking at make-up and lotions. It wasn't the most exciting time in my life, but it was great to be around someone who could speak to me in fluent, easy English. My biggest priority in this trip was to spend time with people and that's what I was doing and not much else mattered. 
The morning slipped away quickly and soon it was time for me to meet up with Min Seon. I found my way back to the subway, leaving Nina up to her elbows in shopping. It didn't take me long to find the subway exit that Min Seon was supposed to meet me at. We were also meeting up with her friend Alvin who she had met at an English/Korean practice group. 
Alvin found me easily. I am hard to miss in Korea, being at least 3 inches taller than the majority of people here. I greeted him and tried to make conversation, but he fidgeted awkwardly and scanned the horizon for Min Seon. It didn't take her more than a few minutes to find us... but those few minutes were a little tense. Once Min Seon found us we were on our way, walking toward the area where we would be getting lunch. I quickly found out that although Alvin looked Korean, he was actually from California and his family was from China. He chattered on in rapid fire about nothing in particular, punctuating most of his sentences with high, fast laughter. I nodded and smiled as best I could, working my way into the conversations at the edges.
After a while I started to recognize my surroundings and I realized that we were near Insadong, where we had been shopping yesterday. I started to see signs for the palace that we had gone to as well and I felt proud of being able to get my bearings just a little bit in such a massive city. We came to a cross roads and instead of going left to the palace we went right up a winding road that climbed up a lazy hill.
The roads curved and swept up toward the mountains that sat behind the palace and little tea houses snuggled seemed snuggled in. We didn't do much shopping and the stores seemed a little too upscale for my budget, but the area was nice. We found a quaint little Indian restaurant to eat lunch at and we split a couple's set that included tandori chicken, curry, naan, and lassi. 
With our bellies full we headed off to the Vinari drum show. There was a bit of translation difficulty as Alvin apparently thought that Min Seon had gotten him a ticket as well (he had previously seen the show) and he followed us into the theatre. It was only at the last minute that all the dots were connected and everyone realized the miscommunication. Alvin got himself a ticket and sat in the back, but Min Seon and I were seated right in the front row, stage left.
It didn't take long for the lights to lower and as soon as the theatre was dark a cacophony filled the space. The cast of the show tore through the isles of the audience, banging drums and gongs as they skipped past us. They wound their way up to the stage where they began their singing and dancing. Soon the music died down and the MC took up the mic to greet the audience in Korean. It didn't take long for him to notice me as the only Waygook (foreigner) in the audience and he made a special effort to point me out and repeat himself in English for my personal benefit. 
Soon the show got rolling and the performance truly started. To say that it was amazing would be an understatement. The production started out with Opening Drums and my breath was taken away, almost literally. As the drumming began the vibrations moved up my feet and through my chest. The performers were fantastically energetic, throwing themselves at their drums with intense precision. They were perfectly coordinated and the sound shook the auditorium. I was so moved by their passion and skill that it almost brought tears to my eyes. In addition to drumming there was a good amount of singing and dancing, along with flutes and strings to add to the sound.  
The performers seemed tireless, I was close enough to see the sweat gathering at their temples and their hair stick to their grinning cheeks. I continued to get attention from the cast, one singer in particular liked to stand in front of me, making eye contact and directing her voice straight at me. It was intense and I couldn't stop grinning. Toward the end of the show they allowed a "Photo Time" were you were allowed to take out your camera or phone and snap pictures or take video
After the show wrapped up and I said my good-byes to Min Seon I texted the rest of the pack to see what people were up to. They were headed towards the river that cuts through Seoul to go on a boat cruise. The boat would be leaving the dock in about 30 minutes. I calculated my travel time and figured that it would take me 25 minutes to get to the subway station they were at... not enough time. I groaned inwardly. That wouldn't be enough time to make it. We kept in contact as I pulled into the station. The group was already in line, waiting to board the boat. I made it out of the subway and called Cheryl to see where they were. They hadn't boarded yet, but I would still need to buy tickets. I started running in the right direction, wanting to meet up with them before it was too late. It wouldn't be the end of the world to wait on the dock for them, but I would rather be with the group. Thankfully the boat left 10 minutes later than we had previously thought and I made it just in time.
We boarded the boat and started to wander around the decks as it cruised through the river. Technically this was a Magic Show cruise and we occasionally glanced at the magic show that was taking place in the main cabin. We were unimpressed to say the least. Some slight of hand, a couple of doves up the sleeve. Nothing to write home about... But it was a beautiful night with a full moon and we were having a great time.
After the boat cruise we were amped and ready to party. We decided there would be no better time than now to do Norebong! Norebong is the Korean version of Karaoke except it works a little bit differently here. Instead of being in front of the entire bar, there are private little rooms that you rent out with just your friends. We piled into one of these rooms, hearing the echos of other Norebongers butchering their favorite American hits. We quickly figured out how to queue up our songs and went to town, trying to ignore the echo that came from our microphones that distorted our voices. Towards the end of the night we gave up on individual songs and we crowded around the microphones, shouting out the words in unison to Hotel California and other classics.
Before I knew it it was 2:30 and I was more than exhausted. I left the group and grabbed a cab back to my hotel. I crashed hard, barely waking up when Nina made her way back to the hotel after 4. 
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Lizzypants on

I have been following your every move and every word! Damn I miss you. I also wish I were traipsing across SE Asia with you.

Lizzypants on

You've caused me to flashback to the days in South India when I looked for XL dresses and salwars! ...and my head was shaved which meant a lot in India.

Carlo on

Awkward! ;)

Being taller than most is nice. Being singled out at a show by the MC is not-so-nice. Meh. Still, this is a great entry and the pics are fantastic -- that skyline shot of Seoul is iconic.

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