Beatles Mania!!

25 03 2009

On Saturday night, we headed out to HongDae, a trendy area full of cafes, restaurants, clubs and lounges. We were on our way to local indie rock club, Freebird, for an ESL fundraiser. This particular event involved 5 bands performing covers of several Beatles songs.

We threaded our way up and down various hills, each of us privately praying that the drizzle lightly hitting our shoulders wouldn’t turn into an all out downpour. After walking unscathed past a number of enticing tempura and waffle street vendors, we finally came upon the club. A handwritten sign at the entrance proclaimed, 10,000 won. No DRINK! 10,000 won is roughly equivalent to $10US, although with the global financial meltdown, it’s more like $8US now. Not bad for a night full of Beatles covers. The crowd inside the club was pretty mixed, though the bands were mostly foreigners. I was happy to see a few Koreans mixed in with the bands. Overall, it was a great night with covers of Let it Be, Revolution, LSD and others. I particularly enjoyed this 8 piece band. Every single one of the musicians was excellent at playing their respective instruments.

8 Piece Band

The highlight was definitely Z – a Korean open-miker, who was quickly dubbed Korean Janis Joplin by many in the crowd. I’m sure you’ll see why…

Z - Korean Janis Joplin


How did we end up here in the first place?

19 03 2009

I’m finally getting this travel blog started. The one I promised I would keep up, so you could follow us on our journey. Five countries, umpteen cities and countless bus, train and tuk tuk rides later, here it is. And boy, did some crazy stuff happen. There were con artists in China, bumpy sleeper buses in Lao, scooter confiscations in Thailand and numerous adventures in between. Unfortunately, it all happened so long ago, that I no longer have the motivation to write about them. And now?

Well now, by the strange grace of the universe, we’ve ended up in Seoul, South Korea. I’m typing this from a 2 bedroom apartment that we’ve just rented for the year. Living below us is Bo, an American GI who was stationed here 15 years ago, though he’s not in the military anymore. After breaking up with his girlfriend, and losing $10,000, he’s contemplating a move back to North Carolina. He wants to be a preacher. The Korean couple who own this house live below him on the first floor. I haven’t seen much of them yet; just heard their yappy little dog, who I imagine is wearing some sort of fancy puppy couture and sitting by the door.

I climb through the window of my laundry room and ascend a flight of black metal stairs to the roof. From here, I have a panorama of the skyline, and a clear view of Namsan Mountain (which is really more like a hill). There’s a beautifully lit up tower that sits proudly on top of the hill. The name of the tower escapes me right now, but I remember playing video games there when I was 10 years old. That was my first visit to Korea. My last visit was in 1987, the year before the 1988 Summer Olympics descended upon Seoul and changed things forever. This visit is my fifth. And 21 years have gone by like the wisps of a cloud passing through the sky on a peaceful summer afternoon. 

Things sure have changed here.