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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

Long may it continue… (Day 242)

A chillax day, yet, as seems to be the pattern, we meet fabulous people and amazing opportunities come our way. Long may it continue...

A chillax day, no plans apart from going to the Bus Station to check where and what time we get the bus tomorrow for our day out and on Tuesday going onto our next destination. The rest of the day we’d see what would emerge…suffice to say it certainly did emerge in an unexpected way.

By the time we left the Airbnb, the sun was at full pelt “Mad dogs and Englishmen in the midday sun” springs to mind. We decided to walk halfway to the Bus Station, stop for a drink, then carry on. A Twosome Place café, a franchise here in South Korea was on our way so we popped in for a cooling iced coffee. As we sat relaxing, a dapper man come and sat with us for a chat. Oh, what a wonderful chat we had with Chua Soo Pong and what a fascinating life he has had. Born in Indonesia and raised in Singapore, Soo Pong went to University in Glasgow, onto Queen’s University Belfast then London for his PhD in Anthropology, however his career took a different turn from a chance meeting with a top ballet dancer in Glasgow and his love of the Theatre and Opera grew. When he was in London he managed to get free tickets to all the top Opera Houses as a reviewer and then established himself as a Chinese opera reviewer for the Sin Chew Jit Poh, a Chinese-medium newspaper in Singapore. Since then Dr Chua Soo Pong’s reputation within the Asian Opera and Theatre world is renowned. He has advised, taught, written and directed many works of art and has led or been involved in more than 100 overseas performances by Singapore Chinese opera troupes in the last 15 years.

As you can imagine, we had such a fabulous chat with Soo Pong. He was very disappointed that we hadn’t met yesterday as his group did a performance, but then he asked what we were doing this afternoon and invited us to watch a performance at a local theatre, going as his guests. We agreed to meet later in the afternoon, and with great excitement, carried on our walk to the Bus Station. How lucky are we?!

At the Bus Station, the assistant was very helpful and informed us that we needed to go to the other Bus Station (Why there are two, I don’t know). She wrote down the address in Korean for us to hand to a taxi driver – too far, even for us, to walk in this weather.

We worked out the times for our bus to Busan for two days’ time but couldn’t fathom out the one for tomorrow. When we finally reached the ticket counter, the lady behind the desk waved us away as if we were at the wrong place. At first I thought she meant that we needed to go back to the first Bus Station. As we stood there looking a bit bewildered, a young man asked if we needed help. We explained what we were trying to find out and he beckoned us outside. The bus, despite the journey being an hour long, was in fact a local bus from the stop just outside the Bus Station, whereas within the Bus Station they only cater for long distance rides. Ah – it all became clear what the ticket lady was saying. The young guy found the correct bus stop and the times. We thanked him profusely (we do a lot of that) and off he went.

Lunch time and then back to the café to meet Soo Pong again. His entourage were there all wearing beautiful purple tunics, looking very smart – we felt like right scruff bags but they didn’t seem to mind. Soo Pong turned up and lots of photos were taken of us all, into the taxis and off to the theatre.

It was a small theatre above some shops and we took our seats. Soo Pong had met the director when he was adjudicating a competition and had given him some very well received feedback. The Director was always grateful for this and when he heard that Soo Pong was in South Korea, he invited him to this play. Little did he know we would turn up!

The play just had 4 women acting. What Tim and I gathered was that there were two ghosts who used to be actresses. One died from a bang on the head somehow and the other hung herself. They lived in and haunted the dressing room of the Theatre and would perform a play, critiquing each other harshly at times. An actress walks in, giving herself a hard time about her own performance and practices it, with the ghosts lip reading the same part. Later a fan comes into the dressing room to see her idol, but this actress doesn’t seem happy to see her (We’re not too sure why). By accident the actress kills the young fan, who then becomes a ghost and sees the other two. She then realises that she has died and is distraught – quite a few tears take place and then the three ghosts perform their favourite play. Well, we think that’s what happened. It was in Korean you know, and despite being here for three weeks, our Korean hasn’t advanced that much!

We said a fond farewell to Soo Pong and needed to get back as I had a coaching client session. A long walk back to ensure I achieved my 10,000 steps, an unexpected and delightful chat with our son George and his girlfriend Laura, a coaching session and then dinner.

We are so lucky to have the time and flexibility to take advantage of these opportunities that come our way plus we really do meet such amazing people all around the 11 countries we have visited so far. Long may it continue!

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