And, we're back! Sorry for the delay, my old friend Elliott was visiting for a week and we had our hands full with carrying passed out Korean business men out of the street. Seriously. So, after last week's opus of a post, this one is going to be a bit more short and sweet. And sour. 2 weekends ago I had the chance to go to the Hi Seoul festival, along the Han river, and boy was it something... (foreshadowing!)
For 9 days a year, the Han river explodes with millions and millions of Koreans, all excited to soak in everything the festival has to offer. This year, the theme was "nonverbal performances" so there were tons of dance, music, acrobatic, and other styles of wordless performance. The festival is also home to the world's largest international fireworks competition which this year involved... 3 teams!
Here is the website's interpretation of the festival, "We'd like to inspire the fever of festival into the hearts of citizens who are tired from daily routines through Hi Seoul Festival. We want to make Hi Seoul Festival as a chapter that inspires pride and vitality to leap into the future and spread the charms of Seoul." (http://english.hiseoulfest.org)
And spread their charms they did! Unfortunately, we only had one afternoon to experience all the wonders of the festival. Fortunately, everything we saw was awesome. We started with a walk down the river to get the lay of the land and to watch newbie Koreans try to ride a tandem bicycle and inevitably end up crashing into each other. The entire 2-3 mile stretch was completely packed. Every store along the river had a 30 minute line outside just to get in to get some fried squid.
Next up, we found our first (and only...) performance of the festival. Luckily, it was more amazing than anything I could have possibly imagined. Aliens dancing with a drumline! Not only that, they marched down the river and the drumline jumped into these crazy fish/xylophone/bike/car things and the show continued! OK, really a video is going to show this better than me mincing words can:
Awesome, right? So after that we headed over to this bridge to watch the fireworks (that we technically weren't supposed to be on). Police would come and ask people to leave, and they'd be like, "yeah, we're just getting in our cars and going officer." And then the police would head down the bridge to talk to more people, and eventually come back and be like, "hey, I thought you were leaving!" And the person would go, "Oh yeah, right, right officer, we'll be on our way now" But no one would actually even leave, it just got more and more crowded.
For the fireworks show, 3 countries competed: China, Canada, and Korea. China was completely terrible. You'd think as the maker of most of the world's fireworks they'd pull out the big guns, but it was like watching your neighborhood 4th of July show, if your neighborhood only had one house shooting off fireworks and all they got were a few lame mortars. Canada came next and rocked it pretty hard. Although fireworks set to Celine Dion somehow ruin the mood a little bit...
And then Korea stole the show! They set the bridge ablaze (the one we were on, which is probably why no one was supposed to be there). They had RC flying phoenixes that were shooting flames out of their wings, soaring across the night sky. And for the grand finale the skyline was completely full with more fireworks than 10 Fireworks Fridays at the K. It was amazing. Needless to say, Korea came away with the victory.
In the end, it was a great time and my only wish is that I could have seen more of the performances during the day. Still, it was a beautiful day with some even beautifuler company (I'm talking about you Joel and Maria, well, at least one of you...) Thanks for tuning in and I'll leave you with a gallery of some more festival pics!