Two Savages in Southeast Asia

Independence Day

| Comments

With a booming roar
Enjoy another year free
And some well-dressed men

I woke up, too early as usual, and waited for Evan to drag himself out of bed before we could eat the (unsatisfying) hostel breakfast of bread and peanut butter. Every day we’re aching more for home…

After killing a bit of time, mired in our respective books, we headed over to meet with our friend Solhee. She is a friend of a friend, who Couchsurfed with us in San Francisco a year or two ago. She also wrote an article about Evan’s time at Facebook, and the general culture of the Silicon Valley. She’s a student in telecommunications at a university in Seoul, and she offered to let us sleep on her floor for a couple nights.

But today we still had a lot to do! We dropped our bags off at her place and struck out towards Gangnam and the Olympic stadium, where Super Sonic 2013 was on.

Taejin met us at the ticket gates, and we all got our various wristbands. Solhee and Taejin argued in frantic Korean about what our schedule should be, their tastes in music being slightly different. Evan and I recognized just one of the names on the list for today: Lindsay Sterling, a dubstep violinist from the states.

We wandered in circles and danced madly and ate and chatted and enjoyed ourselves for the next 11 hours. We saw Korean indie rock bands (they performed their whole show sitting down onstage), a group dressed as moon wrestlers with backup dancers scrambling madly about the stage (watch some of their videos on (youtube)[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcxFL3NeBrs&feature=youtu.be]), a performer who was famous 25 years ago and now making a comeback, and lots more. Sometimes we sat on the lawn outdoors, sometimes we escaped into the mercifully air conditioned pavilions. We were filmed for a big-screen video. We finally had the classic Korean dish: chicken and beer. Solhee told us, though, that it was not “beer chicken” but just some other kind that happened to be served with beer. During one particularly memorable dance, we joined hands with a bunch of elated Koreans and whirled in a circle, which ended abruptly when one of them let go and flew into a barricade. We all lept to help, and she was fine, but within 15 seconds there was additional security detail on the fence there.

At sunset, we took a stroll around the Olympic Park itself, where we saw the skyline of Gangnam and the stadium, and where we got to enjoy not smelling other dancers’ BO.

Eventually we finished the night by taking a $30 cab (this price was totally reasonable, since we were riding in the cab for something like 30 minutes and speeding along at a good rate during that) back to Solhee’s. She’s excited to write a story about Indpendence Day: today was Korea’s independence day (they were ruled by Japan for a while), but it’s traditionally celebrated just by giving folks the day off and hearing a speech from the president. She is enamored with the concept of fireworks and barbecues and speedboating, so she hopes that her article will spur some kind of exciting new tradition for Korea’s Independence Days to come.