Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Wedding Crashers

One of the most special experiences we had in Cambodia was when we were spontaneously invited to join in some random strangers' wedding reception.

We were on our way back from Tonle Sap when we spotted a big wedding pavilion in front of a road-side restaurant.

We asked the driver of our minibus to stop, and Jongshil found a boy who could speak English and asked him if it would be okay for us to take some pictures. The next thing we knew we were being ushered into the pavilion and invited to join the feast.

I was seated next to Professor Lee. The music was playing too loudly for us to understand each other, but Professor Lee snatched up a menu and scribbled notes to me when he had something to say. "I feel like crying," he wrote, and "I can see these people's happiness," and "A magnificent rooster has appeared."

I don't know how long this party had been going on, but no one was dancing when we first got there. I saw this as an opportunity for us to earn our invitation. Kanjangnim must have had the same idea, and after a couple of beers he got up and started dancing by himself. I immediately joined in, and several other wedding guests soon followed our lead. Before long we had a little scrum of people dancing around and around in a circle in front of the speakers.

Unni recorded some low-res video of the scene on her smartphone.

 By the time we left an hour later, our little circle of dancers had grown to about 20 people and an auxiliary dance circle had formed halfway across the room. Party mission accomplished, we took our leave, but not before handing over a little Korean-style wedding gift.

A few weeks later, after we had all returned to our normal lives back in Seoul, Unni and I received another unexpected wedding invitation - to the nuptuals of Professor Lee's son. The ceremony was held at a very tasteful "house wedding" hall in the Kangnam district of Seoul.

Like most Korean weddings, the ceremony and the reception were both extremely brief, although this one was fancier than most and included a proper multi-course meal instead of a buffet. The posh surroundings and the fact that most of us had never met the bride or the groom did not stop our gang from being our usual rambunctious selves. We were easily the most demanding guests at the reception. We continuously harassed the wait staff to bring us more booze, Jongshil redistributed the items on our plates to match our body types, and as we were leaving we scooped up as many flower arrangements as we could carry.

I continue to marvel at this little group of friends we have assembled. They are like the fanciest group of overgrown children I've ever encountered. Half the time I can't decide whether to feel honored to be included or embarrassed to be seen with them. I look forward to our next adventure.


  1. 너무나 즐거웠더 여행 그곳의 즐거움과 우연이 지금도 가슴을 뛰게하네 또다시 가고싶다

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