Sunday, 1 May 2011

One Spring Night ... In Yeouido!

Although spring always comes during my busiest time of the year, I always make sure that I still squeeze in a few things  between work and sleep.
And during the Yeouido Cherry Blossom festival, while I am underneath a few piles of paper work, I make sure I'd be able to run to that island (yes, it's actually Yeoui Island if translated) and squeeze in a few shots. Not of soju, but from my camera, that is.
I know I wouldn't want to go and join a million people at the festival during day time. I already experienced the huge traffic and the hordes of tourists cramping at every inch of space to enjoy the blossoms. 
 But what I actually wanted to do was to take more shots of the cherry blossoms bathed in colored lights at night.
Although I did that years ago when I didn't have this blog yet, I wanted to do it again so I would have fresh photographs to post.
So a couple of days ahead, I called 1330, the tourism information hotline to check whether the colored lights at the Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival are turned off at night, if ever. And they are! Like Cinderella! 
From early evening until 11:59 PM, people are enamored with their blue-ish, orange, magenta and light green (at least those were the colors I saw) blooms, and at the strike of 12, some killjoy somewhere, turns off the switch! Ha-ha-ha! And the blossoms go back to their natural, pale-white appearance in the middle of the dark night. At least, Cinderella had a carriage, one glass slipper, and a fairy godmother.

The Yeouido cherry blossoms only have the moon and the soft beams from the street lamps.
To the Yeouido park authorities:  Can you at least keep the colored lights on until it's the morning sun's turn? These cherry trees only bloom once a year for crying out loud! Are you afraid of getting humongous electric bills? 
Going back to my appointment with spring.

So, on the last weekend of the festival, that Saturday, I rushed to finish my work and decided to call it a day...or a night. It's already 9:30 PM, and I only have more than two hours before those colored lights are switched off!
So, I hurried home to get my cameras, hopped on the Blue Bus 400 from Hannam-dong, and got off Hanggang-no 1-dong to take a cab to cross the Wonhyo Bridge. I thought this was the fastest way for me to get to Yeouido. 
I couldn't take the subway because the intervals between train arrivals at late nights are longer. I couldn't go for the Mapo Bridge because it's too far.  And definitely, I can't take a cab from Hannam-dong because it will be too expensive! 
I wouldn't know how much it will cost as I don't know the traffic situation along the way. For all I know, a million cars are jamming the routes going to Yeouido!
And I was right!

It was already past 10 when the cab I took from the Yongsan Electronics road crossed the Wonhyo Bridge, and on reaching the end of the bridge (on the other side of the Han River), the cab turned right and bam! Traffic!
People were still at the festival this late! Perhaps, they just got off from work, too! Ha-ha-ha!
So, I just got off after a few hundred meters of slow-pace drive and paid W5,000! A bargain if I took it from Hannam-dong!
I lost track of time as I made my way to the Yeouiseo Road where the trees are outnumbered by parents, kids, couples, tourists, vendors and of course, pets! And as I expected, there were fewer people this late night, compared to perhaps a million during the day.
And while I was still busy trying to capture the colored trees deep into the lane, guess what happened.
Like a cursed Cinderella, the colored lights were turned off! I heard people ask 'Why?!'  We better ask the Yeouido park authorities. 
This festival only happens once a year, and people stay up late even after midnight to enjoy this spring weekend. But someone out there just wants to turn off the lights that give colors to the cherry blooms at night. 
Oh well, I guess I was lucky I made it before midnight. And the photos above were taken before 11:59PM. 

And the one below was taken at the same time when Cinderella was hurrying into her carriage. With only one glass slipper.
Well, good for Cinderella. She had a free ride home. While I had to take a cab back to Hannam-dong. My cab fare? More than W10,000.

Good night! Er, good morning na pala.

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