Monday, October 25, 2010
Grease, Bukchon Hanok Village Walking Tour
On Saturday night, Dan and I dressed up for a proper date to Chungmuro to see the musical Grease. I'm a girl. I had a strange middle-school affinity for the Bee Gees. I like Grease. Dan agreed to see it with me because he likes me, and he likes Korea. We knew all the dialogue would be in Korean, obviously, but we thought maybe the songs would still be in English. We were a little bit right. Pretty much all of the song titles were sung in English as they came up in the lyrics, but that was then promptly exchanged for rapid-fire Korean. It went a little something like this*: Summer lovin' 핫 미 어 브라스트, summer lovin' 합엔드 소 바스트. Greased Lightnin' was probably the most entertaining song for the collective us, as it was sung with a very enthusiastic vibrato and an endearingly incorrect pronunciation.
Things of note:
-The girls were way better singers than the boys. Rizzo was by far the most talented in our cast.
-The boys are hard to tell apart from very far away (which is where we were sat). I couldn't tell Kenickie from Sonny from Doody. Danny was always easy to spot, though, since he spends most of his time being followed around by swooning girls cooing his name.
-You will not see the hand-jive, extol as they might its virtues and opine about its life-defining importance. That made me sad.
-The second half of the curtain call consists of the T-Birds ripping their shirts off and gyrating for the girls with floor seats. It was a bit weird.
So, we enjoyed all of it very much, but I am glad we did not attempt it sooner or with a less familiar show. Though we don't know much Korean, we could easily recognize what we did know, and that was fun for the full first half. The musical numbers were familiar and Koreans are pretty much experts at pantomime. We did start to feel the work of decoding near the middle of the dialogue-heavy second hour, but we pushed through and would reckon it worthwhile.
But then we accidentally ate pork belly for dinner, and that was significantly less pleasant.
Sunday afternoon found us in Bukchon, a traditional village area in Seoul, full of traditional craft and trade workshops and thousands of hanok, traditional homes. We walked through a brief museum at the Bukchon Traditional Culture Center and picked up a map. We really ended up just following all the other people into the hanok maze and spent several hours walking around being amazed. Because it was Sunday, many of the museums and shops were closed, so we hope to go back on a better day to see demonstrations and things like embroidery and knots and chicken art.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Seoul Grand Park: Seoul Zoo, Rose Garden, Seoul Land
This is the first time I am unequivocally not recommending one of our weekend things. If you are an adult, do not go to Seoul Land. If you are an adult with children, go to one of Korea's myriad other theme parks. I don't mean to be mean, but Seoul Land was just lame. It started out okay in the Tilt House, which was satisfyingly disorienting. We attempted a couple waits in a couple lines but kept giving up before getting to ride either of the roller coastery set ups. Mostly we wandered, marveling at the flurry of activity around us, yet with no real idea of anything to do. We had some doughnuts from Dunkin Donuts, we had some ice slushes, and then we went home.
But, that is not to say that we didn't enjoy the Seoul Zoo part of the Seoul Grand Park Complex. The zoo was very zoo-like. There was a dolphin show we regrettably skipped in order to make it to Seoul Land. Our favorite part was the sky lift. Our favorite part of the sky lift was having to let it hit and collapse our legs upon entrance and then having to do the reverse (jump up and run off) upon exit. Theirs was an inertia not to be halted. We also liked looking at the baby and toddler animals in the nursery.
So, Seoul Zoo is okay, but I preferred Children's Grand Park for its proximity to the animals and variety of activities. Otherwise, the citizens of Seoul should petition to have Seoul Land renamed to something like Seoulless Land (and that is how you accomplish a burn).
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Seoul International Fireworks Festival
The Fourth of July in Korea was like the fifth of July in Korea. That is to say, it pretty much happened without our noticing. We made up for our patriotic neglect by watching fireworks in October (because what are fireworks but little explosive declarations of US independence?). We walked down to the river, set up a Chinese takeout picnic, and saw fireworks in the style of China, Canada, and Korea as part of the Seoul International Fireworks Festival.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Hongdae, Dangsan, Hangang Park
I'm not going to say that the rain ruined another weekend of plans (plans involving Seoul Grand Park and being outside and not being wet). I will instead type it. That is what's known as semantics. No, but I don't hate the rain, though it does inspire taking shelter and eating popcorn for dinner and taking pictures of neither of those activities.
Sunday was dry enough for a walk along the river. And that is pretty much all we did.