Big-O wins a Thea Award!

In case you think this blog post is just one long brag, it isn’t. I’d like to point out, in an overly self-deprecating manner, that I have never won anything in my life. Ever. My childhood windowsill wasn’t crammed with golden trophies, or my walls filled with framed certificates. Nor is it today, in fact. Any proof of my academic achievements will be in a box in the loft somewhere. Probably. I’ll ask my wife …

            But I am, however, immensely proud that I was part of the fantastic team responsible for bringing together the 2013 Thea Award-winning multimedia water extravaganza that is ‘The Big-O’. Despite my wife’s jokes that I might not be altogether successful in anything to do with the Big-O (don’t know what she means!), it has become one of the more exciting achievements of my career so far. Created for South Korea’s 2012 World Expo, held in Yeosu, it was only originally intended to have a lifetime of 3 months, but such was the success of the show, it is intended to remain as a permanent attraction. I won’t bore you with the finer details, including the 24 moving, 360 degree water cannons, the 45 metre high water curtain (making it the tallest in the world), or any of the individual aspects concerning the special effects and lighting. No, I won’t mention any of those. If you want to read about those sort of details, I will instead direct you to here or here

            For me, this job was fascinating not only for the work itself, which anyone who knows me knows that I genuinely feel passionate about. But also experiencing the Korean culture. My website shows some of the places that I’ve been to, all of which have surprised me in many ways. However, South Korea was a genuinely amazing place. The first thing that will hit any tourist is the smell. I soon found out that it was thanks to their national dish, Kimchi. Although it varies from region to region and throughout the seasons, it is basically a mixture of fermented (rotten) vegetables and sometimes fish, mixed with a generous helping of herbs, spices and garlic. Yum. Despite it’s odour, it has been described as one of the healthiest foods in the world, and the Koreans attribute everything from their soaring economic growth, their control of Bird Flu and their nation’s supposed success fighting certain cancers all to this smelly stuff. It was even taken onboard the Soyuz spacecraft in 2008. I wonder how the other astronauts coped with that! Some of the other delicacies that I wasn’t brave enough to try included the living octopus that the locals insisted made an exciting dish because it had the ability to cling to your throat with its suckers and suffocate you. Not to mention the raw shellfish. Even some of the maddest of the Western contingent (mentioning no names!) resorted to the Tofu dishes with me!

            So I found it surprising that the place that I felt was the safest bet for a quick meal that would (cough) ‘stay put’ was a fast food outlet called … wait for it …

Big O Thea Award

            We didn’t always stick to the lottery that is burgers and chips, though. On occasion we ventured out, and always found the English translations provided on menus incredibly helpful. Check it out:

Big O Thea Award

            Although the workload was heavy, there was some time in the schedule for taking in the local sights. The scenery in parts was beautiful. The Koreans  like to boast about their sights of interest, or maybe they just pander to the Asian tradition of photographing anything and everything. Signs for things such as ‘Windy Area’ and ‘Seal Rock’ and ‘Cave of Dragon’ were littered about, with various kagouled explorers carrying SLRs and rucksacks following them diligently. The only one I followed was to the ‘Penis Tree’ (I thought my wife would like a photo). It was just a tree with a lump on the side. I’d already heard about the Penis Park up the road (a theme park filled with phallic monuments – not one for the kids!) and there has also recently opened another theme park dedicated to the toilet. That would, of course, be an absolute must for any kids! So maybe my wife was right, and the ‘Big-O’ is not dedicated to the ocean after all, but something far more intimate and beyond us innocent Western men!

            Before I leave this blog (if anyone is still awake!) I just wanted to give a ‘shout out’ to Europa Park, who have also won an award – The Thea Classic, no less. After visiting Europa Park with my family in the summer, I’m truly not surprised. It is an amazing place, with more rides and attractions than anywhere else I’ve been to. It’s also wonderfully themed, and the hotels are spectacular! If only the main chains that I stay in professionally would embrace chariot beds and naked spas. Well, maybe not the naked spas! Only in Germany! And if anyone from a low-cost airline happens to stumble across this blog by accident – a year-round flight from Newcastle to Baden would be lovely.

            I’m still in Orlando at the moment, experiencing the amazing IAAPA 2012 event. Today I’m visiting Universal Studios (out of professional interest), and Saturday sees me and Rich driving the sports Dodge thing to Miami for a bit of sun, sea and sand. Sometimes I hate my job!