Thursday, 31 December 2015

SM Tour and Rookies Concert

Memorise these tiny, adolescent faces.
Because in a few years' time, if EXO are anything to go by, and the fact they already have a lot of hardcore fans before they've even debuted, they'll be all you hear about for a long time.

We went to the COEX mall again, because SM were holding a few concerts for their "Rookies". If you're not particularly down with your kpop info, most of the big record labels still live in the 90s golden era of manufactured pop stars. And, despite all the jokes we made (and still make) about it, I think in the case of a lot of these artists, they're a lot better off for it.

They hold auditions to pluck willing and highly-talented (and beautiful) tributes barely out of nappies (okay, slight exaggeration, but they're usually primary school age when they get taken in) from the public sphere and basically put them into Pop Music Hogwarts. Or maybe Fame Academy. Whatever. They live in dormitories, usually with their future group members-to-be, and get trained daily by the best vocal coaches, choreographers, public speakers, models, personal trainers, drama teachers, musicians, etc, to be the perfect pop star.

And to be honest, it pays off. I'll get more into that later, but basically they school these kids until they're "ready" and then pop out a group of ready-made celebrities every few years or so. One of the things that's impressive is how prepared they are for hoards of screaming fans. I suppose it's because they gradually expose them to this most terrifying part of fame throughout their training. We'd seen some of the older Rookies during the SM Town concert as backing dancers and occasionally given a brief set to sing or dance. Presumably, this series of shows was also to get them used to a concert environment as well as gauge popularity, what works, what doesn't, and to generate hype.

SO. Being rather into kpop (in case you couldn't tell), we fought our way to some tickets and headed over to the COEX. We popped into the merchandise shop just to see if there was anything interesting or new, but mostly I was amused by the fact they'll brand ANYTHING. Here's a multipack of snack nuts (called Super Nuts, presumably linked to Super Foods) and someone presumably went "omg, you know what else starts with Super? Super Junior. Slap some faces on it. Boom. Done."

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Seoul Food | Cheese Otaku

Been a while since I did a post like this, eh
Now this is a story all about how... we went and ate an absolutely enormous meal back in June. Hongdae is a great place for food of all kinds, so it's hard to get bored considering the amount of choice they've packed into one area.

We went to Cheese Otaku (치즈오타쿠), a Japanese-themed restaurant along the "barbecue street" where the star of the show is a gigantic platter (with different sizes starting at, I think, a 2 person serving) that sits in a custom slot in the table to keep the food warm, sauces at the right consistency, and to melt cheese. CHEESE!

I guess it should be obvious from the name that you get a lot of cheese.

Depending on the portion you buy, you also get a sizeable chunk of a whole chicken. Goodness me.

There's also fried rice, fried chicken, corn, and a million other things all on this sizzling platter. I can't remember if it came with fries or if we ordered extra. But they were there and they were rapidly consumed.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

BoA 봐

photo stolen from Nick, sorry
Just another short post to mark the fact we saw BoA live! We go to an awful lot of concerts here because we're very aware that once we leave Korea, we probably won't have another chance to see Korean artists, and especially not for the same price. 

I saw Big Bang and Super Junior in London, and the atmosphere wasn't the same either. I don't think the shows were as long, and not as spectacular either, because I suppose venue rules and last trains are different, they can't ship over some of the set pieces, and they can't chat to the audience very easily.

We shared this bingsu with 예슬 the night before. LOOK AT IT.
Also, I tried to make some sort of fake kimbap without it falling to pieces.
This is the building it was in. A proper concert hall by Gyeongbokgung
We arrived at the venue pretty early, so after working out what doors we'd need to go in through, and scoping out the merchandise (as ever: disappointing) we went for a walk in the sun. (Remember when that was a thing you could do? Ah, winter.) There was a huge poster set up in the lobby for taking a picture with, but there was also a huge queue, so we decided it wasn't worth it.

The building itself was beautiful though, so it was great just to wander around there and take photos from afar.

It was summer, and I spotted a Gong Cha, so I was determined to have some bubble tea to tide me over until the show started.

Monday, 28 December 2015

영국여행 | England (Day 15)

Last one! This was the last day before we packed up, headed to the airport, and got on that long, long flight back to Korea.

First of all we met up with one of Nick's friends, and I'm glad we got to meet and walk around Liberty for a while. It's a beautiful shop full of beautiful things and I like to daydream about filling my non-existent house with their products.

But then I had to zoom off to make one of the last arrangements of my holiday, which was with a group of people I've known for a very long time, but never actually managed to meet (other than Syd, once) before now. So I was super nervous as well as excited.

We decided to meet at Five Guys (yet another burger! What am I doing?!) which was great because I'd been meaning to go there for a while. I mean, I know it's just another US burger chain, but with all the hype I at least wanted to check it out.

Actually, we stayed at Five Guys for about...five hours. Quite possibly tried every one of their multitude of soft drinks (they seem to have every shade of Fanta, Coke and Sprite under the sun) and some combinations, which lasted us well after the burgers and fries were long gone, supplemented by the free peanuts. Free peanuts!! After a while we were just cracking them to have something to do with our hands. Not wanting to waste anything, we took all the shelled nuts home in little boxes 🙈

Monday, 14 December 2015

영국여행 | England (Day 14)

Photo stolen from Loti. Sorry/thanks Loti 🙈
So, I got up bright and early the next day to speed my way to Stratford to meet up with Loti from uni and actually meet her son and husband-to-be, for the first time. Even though it was only a few hours I was glad to meet up, have a wander and catch up before heading on to my next appointment. 
Busy busy busy.

Sadly, these are the only two pictures I have from Nat and Andy's barbecue that we went to. The picture on the left being a wasp we trapped and shamed for bothering us, feat. excellent lamb cooked by Andy (or what was left of it). The picture on the right is some remnants of the cakes that I devoured before considering the fact I should maybe take a picture. If I remember rightly that green cupcake was alcoholic. Gin and tonic? Tequila? I can't remember because someone kept providing me with generous glasses of white wine. ;p Either way it was all delicious, as expected, and absolutely hilarious, as expected. I think I had a cry on the way home. I cried a lot that week and continue to despise my slow descent into being a massive crybaby.

We did take some polaroids, but they don't photograph well, so you have my apologies.
Nick also took one where we look like some kind of dysfunctional Victorian family at a funeral but I forgot to take a picture of it, so you'll just have to imagine that one :p

This is the strangest and most wonderful photo I've taken so far
Nick x Monkey = true love

Sunday, 29 November 2015

영국여행 | England (Day 12 & 13)

This is me saying goodbye to the cheese aisle and questioning my life choices.
These next two days have been compressed into one, reasonably short post, because I didn't take many pictures and didn't do much of anything particularly spectacular. Just had a slight break from running around like a headless chicken to do normal things at home like going through old boxes, having dinner, drinking tea (proper tea) and going to Tesco to ogle at all the food I'll miss.

I also went to Southampton to meet some more of Nick's family for dinner before having a few more drinks with my parents and then saying goodbye.

The sooner science can magic up some teleporters than won't shatter me into a pile of meat, the better, to be honest.

Friday, 27 November 2015

영국여행 | England (Day 11)

Lion Selfies
아 힘들다.

This day was technically me heading back to Bristol for a little bit more time, so I had to carry a bag of provisions with me.

Rather than spend 3 hours on a coach to look around my home city, I thought it'd be nice to look around London with mum and dad, considering mum is always wanting to go on trips to London but there's no time or it's too intimidating (for real, London is quite terrifying the first couple of times if you don't have someone to show you around)

Anyway, since they wouldn't arrive until the late morning/early afternoon, I had a scant few moments that I used to meet up with Cara, someone I've known since the Dark Ages, probably.

I'm really bad It's not 'self' if there's multiple people :p
We spent most of our time walking around a lot and just catching up, considering it had been years since we'd last seen each other. And we had some fun with the joys of Korean selfie camera.
Why is this a thing
Also, we met Batman.
Before long, my parents sent a message to say they'd arrived, and I headed over to meet them.
I'm not sure how or why we ended up looking like some kind of reject Addams Family but I'm okay with that because black is always excellent.

This photo is cute but that alcove reeked of pee, these are the sacrifices we make.
We ended up going to Bodeans, which I will never argue with because Bodeans is a heavenly place of meat and cocktails.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

영국여행 | England (Day 10)

I can't wink, how do you people do it?
This day was a great moment of serendipitous fortune, because we happened to be available and in London at the same time as our good friends Erin and Morgan. They were some of the first people we met in Korea, and recently finished their contracts and went back to live in the US. But they were coming up towards the end of what I will call a "world trip" because they genuinely went to so many amazing countries and cities over the course of quite an impressive amount of time, immaculately planned (in my opinion, anyway). So it was really exciting to have a final glimpse of them before dipping back into "when will I see you again?" territory. Sobs.

We'd booked in to see another Shakespeare play at The Globe, this time Much Ado About Nothing. But prior to that, we had a mosey around the Southbank area, including lunch at Pieminister (repping the West Country), which I ate too quickly to even think about documenting. That's how much I love those pies.

We still had some time to spare, so we went to the Tate Modern, which was just as confusing and incomprehensible to me as it was during a secondary school trip, which was the last time I'd visited. Maybe it's all too deep for me. I got more enjoyment looking at people looking at the art. Or is that also part of the modern art? Deep.

We were in standing for this performance, so I got to see all of the gorgeous painting above the stage in better detail. I like that I got to have an experience of both seated and standing.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

영국여행 | England (Day 9)

I'll give you one guess at where we went.
Day 9 saw me meeting up with Ann-Marie again to go on a day-trip somewhere neither of us had been before, once again checking off something on our "explore more of England" list.

We met at King's Cross, which is always fun to say, and we might actually have left from platform 9 or 10 (sadly not 9¾).

Breakfast! Once again making the most of cured meats and real cheese.
Due to our lackadaisical approach to planning a day out, we ended up just typing various place names into the ticket machine and choosing the cheapest one that was also less than a 2 hour train ride away, and ended up with Cambridge.

Flat English countryside from the train window.
What we didn't realise is that the train station is actually quite a long walk from the actual university buildings. What I also didn't know is that Cambridge apparently has a large Asian expat community, because we walked down a whole street of shops catering to Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, and Japanese tastes, as well as many more. We popped into a bubble tea shop with post-it notes covered in cute doodles and messages not written in English, and generally caused a hassle, as we usually do (they didn't have a working card machine and I never carry cash, but they'd already started my order, oops)

It's kind of weird, just wandering around and then choosing a random university building to just walk into and look around. Especially as most of the buildings are probably halls of residence, it feels a lot like you're just walking into someone's garden and having a nose around, even though the area has the look of a stately home, which actually IS just walking into someone's garden (and house) and having a nose around.

Friday, 13 November 2015

영국여행 | England (Day 8)

What a terrible day we're having. Ugh. Sunny.
Day 8! Day 8 was a bit of a whim because we found out a bit last-minute that there was going to be a Korean Culture festival in London, and it would be a good chance to share our current home with people. The weather was really great! So hot and sunny and, unlike Korea, not humid at all, haha.

We went with Ann-Marie and Chris, with the promise of meeting up with a few more friends throughout the day depending on their schedules, including Yasmin and a very brief, fleeting hello with Jerlen and a few of the other Filipino kids from home. If we met anyone else, I'm sorry, my memory is bad and it was 3 months ago, haha.

I also took the opportunity to be a massive tourist a) for the sake of showing my students later, and b) because I haven't been touristy in London since I was about 17, so I needed an update. Plus, look at all the sun I have to document! Sun? In England?!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

영국여행 | England (Day 7)

Deliberately moving this photo up to use as the thumbnail. Sorrynotsorry.
On day 7, Nick was busy with various arrangements and people I don't know, or at least know very well, so I met up with the second best thing, Ann-Marie (sorry, you're not a thing, I know)

We were determined to get some culture down our country bumpkin throats, so, after walking past the entrance gate and up the road the wrong way for about 5 minutes, we finally made it to the V&A Museum.

Considering it's full of ~beautiful things~ including fashion history, I've been wanting to come here for a LONG time. Look at that exterior! So pretty. Also, what a beautiful day to be spending indoors in darkened rooms with musty old things. Ah, yes.

Anyway, here are some pretty things. I like how they have benches all around this section so you can just sit and stare at the pretty things. I took these pictures mainly so I'd have some reference materials for drawing but we all know that's not going to happen, so I'll just share them with you.

My favourite dress, along with the section that made me laugh the most. Of course there's a section dedicated to modern British rainwear. Of course.

I love how tiny the lady is.

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