Destination Yeouido Park (여의도 공원)
Not entirely sure where the park was, and unable to find it on my subway map because I was looking for "Yoido" (요이도) which doesn't exist on the map- smallest miscommunications can make a huge difference- I asked a taxi driver outside of Seoul Station. The first one had no idea what I was talking about and the second did his best, which was pretty good. Yeouido is a district in Seoul and a pretty neat one at that. It's a rather large island on the Han River with some wonderful recreational areas and other Seoulesque attractions. As we were driving across the bridge to Yeouido we passed one of the river parks which was where I'm pretty sure I wanted to go, but the traffic was so bad that my driver opted to take me another route. He drove into the city more and eventually dropped me off at a part of the park, about a mile away from the river. I paid my 8000 won bill and began exploring. I made a new friend almost immediately:
His name is King Sejong and he was kind enough to let me take a picture of him.
He doesn't really have the greatest view in the park though.
I wandered around the park for a while, because it was beautiful, until I got a text letting me know that my friend had arrived down at the river portion of the park.
Destination Han River Park
This is the part where I never ended up meeting my friend due to technomishaps and a coin flip. The park was astir with thousands of people- playing in fountains, biking, blading, chilling in tents, or just meandering- much like I was. My attention was officially caught when I heard snare drums in a drumline style. I followed the sound until I saw what might be one of the coolest things ever... flying drummers.
I watched these guys for a while until I received a text from my friend informing me that she was somewhere close to a green bridge and a boat that had a KFC and other delcious things on board. I walked to land's edge and looked east and saw no green bridge or KFC boat, looking west I saw a bridge that was pretty far away and what looked like a white boat on the water with white buildings on the land. The flip of a coin decided that I would go west towards the green bridge.
Destination Green Bridge & KFC
After about five minutes of walking I looked at my phone, there was an error message on my screen. It informed me that I should call the service center; I had five bars but I couldn't use my phone for communication purposes, oh well. I decided to keep walking towards the bridge and hope that it was the right choice. I was walking on a dirt path along the shore, which turned out to be a mistake, because Yeouido- being an island- has a definite end to it. I walked by a lot of old korean men with their fishing rods secured to the ground and lures bobbing in the river 50 feet away. Each man; with Soju, Cass, and cigarettes to keep them company, had at least four rods set up just waiting for the first sign of a fish to catch on it. I ended up walking to the end of the island on the west side, the green bridge was still about half a mile away and there was no way across the river in site, so continued walking around the island now on the South Side heading East.
There were some signs written in Korean in a red font, as I read them I imagined what they could say- my best guess was "No trespassing." I walked up a small slope and I looked down into a construction site and boat dock and also, a way off the island and to the green bridge. I was seperated from route by about 200 yards of concrete, a small bridge, and a fence. I was about to make the walk when I noticed the guards, and the dogs. There were only a couple of them, but they were some of the biggest German Shepherds I had ever seen. Luckily they hadn't seen or smelled me, so I jumped down an embankment and enjoyed the gap-toothed stares of startled fishermen.
I walked parallel the construction site until I found a safer way around the fence. Eventually I got within sight of the green bridge and I came upon the white KFC looking boat; as I got closer I noticed more and more people- maybe I was headed in the right direction! As I got closer it became more apparent that the white boat was in fact not KFC, and the white tents on land were little shelters with tables under them for the customers of the Seven Eleven... and that this was not in fact where my friend was, at all.
Destination Back to Han River Park
When I finally got back to the park I was walking towards the bathroom when I hard snare drums start up. By this time it was dark and I couldn't see where the sound was coming from when suddenly around a corner comes a row of drummers dressed in colonial era european soldier's uniforms, with faces painted white like french clowns, or maybe ghosts? By the time I got my phone out to take a picture, which was still not functioning like a real phone, a spotlight had turned on to illuminate our snareful conspirators.
I apologize for the bad photos... my next big purchase is going to be a decent digital SLR camera. For now all I have is my cellphone.
Anyways, these guys were drumming and walking through the crowds of people. Occassionally they would stop walking, drum for a minute, and then charge forward forcing everyone in front of them back- it. was. awesome. While they were drumming there were also about five groups of traditional korean drummers walking around. Six sets of percussion in total all marching more or less to the same beat. Eventually the snares dissapeared and then out of nowhere...
They flew in on their harnesses and drummed over our heads, circling the audience, making faces at us and one of them even threw her clothes down as she started doing air ballet in a circus style swing. After about ten minutes of pure enjoyment there was a brilliant light followed by a loud bang. Everyone in the crowd turned around to enjoy the start of the longest fireworks display I have ever seen.