I found a diary entry today which I had written when I went to South Korea two years ago, I had been once before when Kasia first went to teach English there and although we had done a lot of very interesting sightseeing I wasn’t really planning to go again.
But she intrigued me by inviting me to go to a pop festival with her. I’m not quite sure what possessed me to say yes – probably common curiosity – as I had never been to a pop festival in my life before. I’d been invited to go to one of the first Reading festivals in 1970, by Peter Lawrence, but my mother wouldn’t let me go. And that wasn’t even camping. This time it would be three days under canvas.
I took a deep breath and decided it would be good for me to get out of my comfort zone – and camping, if nothing else, would surely ensure that!
So I booked my flights (11 hours of discomfort for a start) and arrived at Incheon Airport stiff and dehydrated. Kasia collected me and we rushed back to her flat. No coffee, no food, no sleep. No, it was, “I hope you’ve packed for the festival as we’re going in an hour.”
So I repacked what I thought I needed into my floral Primark bag which serves me for all my travel needs. She looked disdainfully at me – why I didn’t have a rucksack she could not understand, but off we went to find her American friend, Jake, and his hire car.
He was charm itself , which was just as well as he had no idea where we were going and the sat nav was in Korean at first, which he said he understood….
Finally he changed it to a semblance of English and off we went. Two hours later we were at the site which doubled as a ski resort in winter – lots of hills.
By then I was exhausted. Kasia had brought a four person tent along with her and Jake a ten person tent. Not glamping, but adequate. Unfortunately I was getting more and more tired, and beginning to worry about the bathroom, to put it coyly, facilities.
Their friend Stephan arrived and they put up the tents as I went to explore a bit. I returned a little while later. They had put up the tent on a ledge – nice and flat but impossible to get to. For me, anyway. What a palaver. But I had to overcome my embarrassment and get in.
Jake pushed, Stephan pulled and in I clambered. Thank goodness Kasia had decided we would all share the big tent. At least you could stand up and breathe in it. The temperature was in the 30s and it was very muggy. I just wanted to lie down. But no – we were here for the concert and so off we went to find where Radiohead had already started. It was dark, and I was still thirsty and by now beginning to be hungry, and of course I had the wrong sort of shoes. But there was no way we were going to miss this. Kasia had spent the whole of her A level years listening to the sounds of Radiohead, and by default so had I. The music of Street Spirit ringing as a counterpoint in my head, we eventually found the crowd and the stage.
I have to say the music that night was good. We stood shoulder to shoulder and listened. The crowd was good humoured – very young- very enthusiastic and mostly Korean. More important than anything, though, a lot of them were drinking something out of paper cups. I looked longingly at them. Anticipating my needs (not just mine) Stephan began to ask where we could get some drinks. And to our surprise – and delight – the guy handed his tray of beer to Stephan and wouldn’t take anything for it. And so I drank my first ever beer.
We stood for another hour or so and waited for them to actually play Street Spirit, but jet lag finally overwhelmed me and we stumbled back to our tent; Kasia heaved me in and finally I slept.