Sunday, 30 October 2011

Halloween In Itaewon: A Festival And A Little Fire

I was supposed to be taking some bed rest this weekend per doctor's order. But I realized the medicines he gave me just made me drowsy, lazy and lethargic.

So, I decided to skip the medicine, get out of bed and head down to Itaewon where an international food festival of sorts is going on, right on Hallow's Eve!

I didn't know that the main Itaewon road, from Hamilton Hotel up to the Noksapyeong Station end, would be closed to traffic. All vehicles, including the public buses, detoured to avoid this road. I wonder why the public wasn't informed ahead of time. This information wasn't even posted at the Itaewon Global Center's website. Hmm. I wonder why.
(my Hannam-dong neighborhood)
And the Blue Bus 110, which I took from Hannam-dong to Itaewon, turned left upon reaching Hamilton Hotel. I just got off after.
                        (Itaewon's main intersection)
               (Hamilton Hotel, Itaewon's main landmark)

Well, the whole street was full of people, with tents of restaurants mostly lining up on one side, and a few activity tents on the other. 
And at the Noksapyeong Station end, a stage was set up for some performers.

I wasn't really interested in eating. I just wanted to see what fun people were having this weekend. 

And shockingly, of all the days in the year to have a fire in Itaewon, it picked the day of the festival!  Yes! A fire broke out while I was in the area! (And I swear I have nothing to do with it. Ha-ha-ha!).
(This girl said she's in a halloween costume. Obvious ba?)
          (This lady is rushing to her halloween party! 
                             I told her to enjoy!)

               (A couple with their dressed up puppies)
And as I expected, I bumped into some guys in their weird halloween costumes. But it was even weirder that a fire actually broke out in Hallow's Eve. (I am thinking of showing the photos of the fire in another blog).
                       (Sunog! Somebody call 119!)

I hope the fire didn't dampen the spirits of the people at the festival, although some food tents next to the building that caught fire had to be abandoned.

I plan to make my way through Itaewon one of these nights, and by that time, I don't expect any more detour, people in halloween costumes and of course, fire. 

And I only expect a lot of fun, though.

                      (Typewriters from the last century)
                             (A lady in a hanbok)

(This is what I like in Seoul. Toilets everywhere! 
                              For those having to go.)

                                  (L'Arch de Itaewon!)

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Amazing! The Fireworks Over Yeouido!

On my first autumn in Seoul, way back in 2004, I had to walk from Daebang Station towards the 63 City Building in Yeouido. At that time, they closed the Yeouinaru Station, the closest station to the fireworks venue. So, everyone had to walk from somewhere! And it's only now that I went back to the area to watch the fireworks again.

But this time, it was easier...and closer. The Saetgang Station of the newer Line 9 made my trip from my home in Hannam-dong to Yeouido faster and more convenient. I simply took the bus to Sinnonhyeon Station in the Gangnam area, and it's a one crowded 20-minute ride!  That Sunday afternoon, all roads lead to....Yeouido!
I met up with friends at the 63 City Building, which is Korea's 3rd tallest building. It was the tallest when it was built in 1985. But now, it still is an imposing structure in the area. It is a Yeouido landmark.
Since the fireworks were to start at 7:30 PM, we had to rush our buddae-jiggae dinner at a nearby restaurant and hurry off to find our spot near the building. We figured we didn't need to be that close to the river bank. Our spot was good enough to see, hear and enjoy the fireworks!
Before they lit the Yeouido sky, the people of Hanhwa, who sponsored the whole yearly event, had a short program introducing their company with messages for the crowd.  

And the fireworks festival began!

They lit up the whole night sky with amazing, colorful fireworks, starting with the Japanese team's fireworks concoction, then the Portuguese team, and finally the Korean team with an interval of a few minutes between them.

These teams from Japan, Portugal and Korea put up these barrage of about 20-minute long fireworks  which left the crowds 'waaahh-ing' all night long.

The opening salvo from the Japanese team impressed me with their creative designs which reminded me of the sakura-kimono-ish culture. Plus the height, the size, the designs and the colors were really entertaining. But I wonder who compiled those songs to accompany the Japanese fireworks? The theme from The Godfather? Seriously?

And perhaps, because it followed the impressive Japanese fireworks, the Portuguese team sort of dimmed (no pun intended) in comparison.

And of course, they organizers saved the best for last.

And what a finale!  Not only did the Korean team brought out their big guns, they also put in some ingenuity by using laser lights beaming through the smoke-filled air above the Han River, and making those lights dance to the music. 

They also had sprinklers of mists from the barge on the river and projected some moving images on those mists. And their accompanying music was more appropriate.

And while the fireworks were lighting up the sky, the crowd was pleasantly surprised with three luminous kites flying above them. And from my vantage point, I thought at first that these kites were fireworks floating down on us.  Those bird-shaped kites must have electricity passing through their threads enabling the crowd to identify their shape up in the dark sky.

And the Korean team didn't stop there. They even installed pyrotechnics on one side of the Wonhyo Bridge and lighted them up as part of the finale!

It was a feast for the eyes indeed.

Well, next year, my friends promised to get us some tickets so we can have a seat near the stage, and not stand the whole time. But then, even if we stood there for about an hour and a half, we didn't even feel tired. I guess the fireworks were so entertaining we forgot that we stood the whole time! Until almost 9PM!

The news said that there were about a million people at the site to watch the whole thing, and I guess we were the lucky few who got us seats inside the Beans and Berries coffee shop at the 63 City Building after the fireworks festival.

We needed to rest our legs and of course, get ourselves something to drink.

And as I parted with my friends who were heading to the opposite direction, I made my way back to Saetgang Station, where the police were regulating the hundreds (or thousands?) getting into the station. 

Well, thanks to Hanhwa for organizing and holding the event. The whole show was indeed a feast for my eyes! 

And as I aimed at the sky with my point-and-shoot camera on my right hand (as steady as I could get), these are some of the creative designs I was able to capture that night. Looking at them now, these fireworks looked like some colored art work.

Definitely going back there next a better viewing spot!

                                (The big bang finale!)