Knives are beating out a rhythm that just makes you want to dance and vegetables are flying everywhere. As you watch, multiple stories are unfolding, winding and intertwining. Laughter erupts as the principal cast of Nanta complete their outstanding acrobatics, dance and, just plain fun, performance. This was the highlight of a very wonderful holiday weekend.
A couple of weekends ago, for Buddha's birthday, I went to Seoul to visit my friend, CG, and, then, further south with some other friends to see a Bamboo forest. On arriving in Seoul, after a quick lunch at Misoya, we headed to a nearby temple (Bongeunsa Temple, line 2, Samseong station) that was decked out in lotus flowers and lanterns. A sombre reminder of the recent tragedy was evidenced by ribbons of yellow and white. The temple, though small, had lovely grounds that consisted of a little wood, a giant statue of Buddha and several small building. As we passed these, you could see shoes outside, a very real reminder that these temples are not just places to sightsee but also where people come to worship and pray.
As we were leaving the grounds, I remarked to CG that I wanted to do a temple stay at sometime and I was really looking forward to learning how to make the lotus flowers. A few seconds later a lady called us over to a booth to do just that. We may not have been the best students but we were both proud of our flowers! Mine currently sits on top of my TV for all to admire.
The rest of the weekend was spent sightseeing at some local tombs, partying it up in Hongdae, and wandering around Seoul Grand Park Zoo with some other friends. The highlight though of that trip to Seoul was definitely Nanta which we attended on the Saturday night. Despite the presence of very few words, the energy, acting and comedic timing that the performers have echoes through the theatre. There are several teams that perform the show, but each team has the same characters - the Manager, the Nephew, the excellent Head-Chef, the Sexy Guy and Hot-Sauce. We saw the performance by the black team and if the rest of the teams have even a fraction of their joie de vivre, what a treat one is in for! We went to the Myeondong Theatre (Myeondong Station, line 4, exit 6) for the 8pm performance. Afterwards, you can get items like t-shirts and mugs signed by the cast. Although I bought a mug I decided not to get it signed - I could just see me dropping it or it being smashed to smithereens on it's way back home to Ireland.
I returned to Jochiwon late on Sunday. Bright and early the next morning, BexC, Jules and I headed by KTX to Gwangju. There we got the bus to Damyang Forest. It's hard to tell how long the journey took as we were stuck in traffic for easily over an hour. It was Children's day so families were out in droves, add in some fabulous weather and I think we were lucky to get to the forest at all! After waiting in everlasting queues to get something to fortify us, we finally got to sit down and try some local cuisine which included bamboo rice (daetonbap). We also tried bamboo hoddeok, which is like a sweet filled pancake and bamboo ice-cream. The ice-cream had a slightly bitter taste, reminiscent of green tea ice-cream which I cordially dislike but it is ultimately much sweeter.
As the sun beamed down, we proceeded to wander down the river awhile admiring the lush greenery and debating on whether or not we should get a family bicycle (as the short one, they'd have had to drive me around, maybe I should have encouraged the suggestion?). Eventually we made our way to Juknokwon which is the Bamboo forest. Despite the crowds, I felt a sense of peace there. I love being under trees and just looking at the patterns their shadows make. One thing I thoroughly disliked though was the amount of people who had, and were, carving their names into the bamboo. It just seems really cruel. After about an hour wandering around, it was time to find a bus and head home. This journey was much faster, but we made the mistake of getting off at the bus terminal in Damyang instead of going all the way back to Gwangju. We'd hoped to get a bus back to Daejeon or Jochiwon but it wasn't to be.
My final day of my wonderful holiday weekend was spent relaxing, watching TV and sitting on my friend's rooftop eating good food and chatting to some wonderful girls. It was the perfect way to wind down from a busy weekend.
So you might think I'm mad to wish I could wipe Nanta off my accomplished list on my bucket list. Why? Well, I wish I could capture the excitement I felt watching it for the first time again. I'm really glad I went to see it and I am delighted that this long weekend afforded me the chance to accomplish two bucket list items. I'm even happier that I got to complete those bucket list items with some pretty fantastic friends.
PPS - I have lots of photos from this wonderful weekend which I will post in a gallery soon. In the meantime. I hope you like these!
PPS the title of this post was inspired by The Drifter's "Under the Boardwalk". Admittedly, I've only ever heard the Bruce Willis version.