Well, I can now scratch off being packed into a subway train like sardines with strangers off my list!
There were SO many people out for the International Fireworks Festival this past weekend! I was heading to the subway after my Korean class and making my way down to the train. I didn't think much of all the people until I saw that we were all convening at the same place and all trying to get onto the same trains. Seoul has a population around 10,000,000. I'm not sure how many turned out for this event, but it sure felt like half of Seoul was all in this one place on the Han River.
(Well, the estimate is actually 280,000 people.)
But back to the subway. I ended up walking right next to another foreigner. I looked away after our first eye contact, but then he said, "Hi," and I laughed. We made brief introductions, found out we were heading to the same place, and decided to make our way through the subway system together.
Johab, my new Haitian friend from Tampa, and I had to wait for three subway trains to go by before we were able to fit onto an already slam packed train with enough room for us to squeeze in. During the waiting and being squished on the train, we talked about our home towns, Seoul, Korean culture, interracial dating, our respective significant others, dancing, church, Haitian weddings, and cultural concepts of time. Turns out Johab has been a believer for years, he loves salsa, and he wants to learn swing dancing. (New awesome friend, for the win!)
When we got to where we needed to be, neither of us could find our friends among all the people. It was really strange, but we couldn't even call them because everyone's phones weren't connecting at all. Anyway, Johab and I watched the show together, plowed our way back to the subway station together, and hugged at the end, making promises we'd take each other dancing.
The fireworks display, by the way, was amazing! It was the most artful and awe inspiring fireworks display I've ever seen! There were different colored explosions going off in patterns and shapes all timed with music. Portugal, Japan, and Korea all put on the show. They each had 45 minutes of go time. There were a few fireworks I'd never seen before. For example, the Japan segment had Hello Kitty shaped explosions. There were plenty of times when the whole sky looked like it was filled with glitter, and there were some times when the light from the fireworks lit everything up as it were daytime. There was also light coming from thousands of phones being lifted up and used for cameras which I found amusing.
I loved being among all these people who were all enthralled with the same thing. The synchronized Wauh's and the excited shouting made me smile more than the beautiful show did. It truly was an excellent display, and I highly recommend it. If you do ever make it to this event, be sure to get there early. My coworkers arrived four hours before the show started, and I'm pretty sure that was the best time to get there.
|This one's from the 2010 show.|
Photo by vogialoc via Flickr
|Get there early!|
Photo by Jang-nam Nam via Flickr
I can't tell if this is normal, but I have this knack for running into awesome people pretty much all the time. I know a lot of it owes to the instant connection foreigners have in a different country, but it's still a little bizarre, no? There are so many other stories like this one I have yet to set down for you. They're coming, I promise.