17 July, South Korea – ‘All Over The Place – Asia, part 2’
After gently easing myself into the day following our very early morning arrival in Seoul I began to get a bunch of WhatsApp messages on our new group we’d just set up – ‘De La Seoul Block’. Apparently there was a massive Gay Pride march going on and it was ending up outside City Hall, just over the road from our hotel. I had been wondering what all the noise was.
I set off in completely the wrong direction and accidentally found myself in the much less fun Anti-Gay march, but eventually got the the right place where a large covered stage lay in wait, surrounded by stalls and a grassy square full of happy dancey people waving rainbow flags and banners. Spent an enjoyable few hours soaking it all up, before bumping into our new team members who had just arrived from the UK – our producer Maria and my new co-presenter for this block, Tee Cee from ‘Whoops I Missed The Bus’.
Sunday was spent perusing the quirky shops and cafes of Hongdae, where all the hipster types hang out, and I was fast deciding that Seoul was now my favourite Asian city. It feels like a more up to date version of Tokyo, and is a bit more foreigner friendly, with English more widely spoken and written.
Then it was time to get back to work. Today was our chance to properly get under the skin of things a bit more, with two items to film (mostly indoors, which was a treat as the summers here are hot and humid). In the morning we met a Korean cookery expert who showed us how to make kimchi, the fermented cabbage side dish that accompanies every meal (I love it). It looked surprisingly complicated, not that I was really paying attention as I was dressed as a shouting Frenchman, leaving it up to Tee Cee to actually make the stuff.
After we’d left the cookery school we went next door and had a large sit down Korean meal for lunch. Like in Japan, I struggle with the cross legged, low table set up. It’s not ideal for a man approaching 2 metres tall, and although it was fun learning how to wrap up the food in big green vegetable leaves, next time I think I’ll wave the white flag and sit at a normal table. Then it was off to Poo Poo Land. Yes, that’s right, Poo Poo Land.
I can’t think of a better ‘All Over The Place’ location really. Part time AOTP presenter Johny Pitts describes our show as ‘Blue Peter’s naughty younger brother, and this fitted the bill brilliantly. Built across three floors in a small shopping arcade you walk under a massive bum, up some farting steps and then go on a (very abstract) journey through the human digestive system. For a portion of it you have to stumble around in the pitch dark in something resembling a car wash (minus the water), and there are even bumholes in the wall that break wind when you stick your fingers in them. Once you reach the third floor you climb into the anus, which is a big pink tube slide with a scary vertical drop, hanging off a rope and then letting out a scream as you go right back to the start. The whole place would blow any kid’s mind, I can’t recommend it more highly. It’s also completely unhinged and gloriously inappropriate. I loved it… and kind of felt like I needed to wash my hands when I came out.