Posts Tagged ‘show’
This past weekend was rained out and I was basically locked up inside. So I slept in, surfed the net and enjoyed not having an agenda.
My only activity was putting together a Soundslides presentation of pictures I took during recent trips to the U.S.
Please click on the photo below to get the show going.
The Wynn in Macau tries to beat the competition through style and some automated shows.
Every fifteen minutes, there’s a show at the artificial lake in front of the hotel. The fountains are synchronized to music that ranges from classical symphonic favorites to Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Holding out for a Hero’.
It’s all very dramatic: sound and light, fire and water. Expect to get wet, depending on where you stand beside the fountain pool and where the wind is coming from.
When you’ve seen the fountain show, stroll through the hotel shopping mall past the Gucci, Armani and Prada stores to the mall rotunda.
The rotunda is home to two shows – one always starts on the full hour, the other at the half hour.
At the full hour, you’ll see the dragon show. As the clock strikes the hour, the lights in the rotunda dim and dramatic music sets in.
Below the rotunda’s cupola, an opening in the ground opens, fake fog seeps out and the ‘Dragon of Fortune’ appears.
The dragon is at least five meters high and completely covered in gold plate. As the statue of the dragon rises from the underworld, it slowly turns and the lotus flower which it guards lights up and opens.
Then the dragon slowly descends back into its cave in the ground. The lights come back on in the rotunda and hotel employees with vacuum cleaners quickly clean the place so that everything’s ready for the next show.
They don’t have much time because the next performance starts at the half hour. But that show is different: instead of the dragon, a gold tree rises up from below the ground and turns majestically. The leaves on this 33-foot ‘Tree of Prosperity’ are 24-karat gold.
Above the tree, the rotunda’s cupola opens (again to dramatic music) and a giant chandelier appears. Liberace would have loved it.
The ‘Tree of Prosperity’ show usually moves the Asian visitors to rounds of applause when it’s over.
I don’t quite understand why, but in any case all of these fully automated shows at the Wynn are good fun – and they’re free.
I saw the most unusual dinner show the other day.
It was at a North Korean restaurant in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh.
Before I make an attempt to put this unique dining and entertainment experience into words, please take a look at a short video I made during the show to get an idea what I’m talking about.
What you see in this video are the singing waitresses at the Pyongyang Restaurant in Phnom Penh. Every night at around 8 p.m., they interrupt serving dinner and hop on stage to sing, dance and play music.
Let’s just say that the Dear Leader‘s idea of a proper show and Western concepts of funky entertainment are obviously worlds apart.
Exiled North Koreans, a theme restaurant or the real thing?
Before we entered the Pyongyang Restaurant, we didn’t really know what to expect. We’d heard rumors about singing waitresses and a dinner show, but we still weren’t sure what kind of place this would be.
Was it a North Korean restaurants run by expats who’d fled the country and tried to recreate a little piece of Heimat in far-away Cambodia?
Was it a restaurant that just devoted itself to North Korean cuisine? For, surely, North Korea must also have food specialties and national dishes – even though the people there are suffering food shortages nowadays.
Or was it the real thing? Could this be a North Korean enclave in Phnom Penh? A place celebrating the Dear Leader and the North Korean way of life? Could such a thing exist?
Yes, it was the real thing
I have no idea how the deal worked, but this restaurant was truly showcasing North Korea in Cambodia. The waitresses were from North Korea, the food was supposed to be North Korean and the entertainment was North Korean.
Since I’m still kind of shell-shocked from this bizarre experience, I’ve just listed some of my observations from that evening.
Sorry, but since the experience was so absurd, so out-of-this-world, I haven’t been able to turn them into a narrative.
- The waitresses all looked alike. Same hairstyles, same facial expressions, same dresses. Thankfully, they wore name tags.
- The waitresses looked so pale, you’d think a vampire had just drained them of all their blood.
- The dresses that the waitresses wore were made of the finest North Korean polyester. The design was somewhere between The Sound of Music and The Stepford Wives.
- If they weren’t handing out menus or taking orders, they were busy telling people not to take pictures. So all the photographs and videos on this page were taken “undercover”. I wonder why photography wasn’t allowed – were the waitresses all senior officers of the North Korean secret service afraid of having their cover blown?
- A flat-screen TV on the stage showed a contiuous video of The Wonderful World of North Korea. The film consisted mainly of nature shots. But my favorite scenes showed traffic in North Korea: in one scene, you saw a train travelling the countryside, in another you saw city streets that were absolutely deserted – except for a lone bus. Both the train and the bus looked like ca 1950. Almost like the kind of miniature trains and vehicles you sometimes find on nostalgic kiddie karoussels. Unfortunately, we can safely assume that that train and that bus in the video must be cutting-edge technology and design in North Korea.
- The group of Asians at the tabel next to ours remained absolutely stony-faced throughout the dinner show. This was in stark contrast to the waitresses’ pasted-on on smiles. Only during one of the numbers did they smile and clap. But as soon as that number was over, their faces turned to stone again. Soon after that song was over and as soon as they’d eaten up their dinner, that whole group left.
- A group of Asian men in suits and ties at another table got a little rowdy. It almost seemed as though they were celebrating a bachelor’s party or just plain had a little too much to drink. Anyway, during one of the songs, one of the business men got up onto the stage, and started to dance around the singer. He also started taking close-up pictures of her, which alarmed the other waitresses. No pictures! And definitely NO such outbursts of joy and emotion! Once they’d ushered him off the stage, one of the waitresses remained stationed right behind these guys’ table, keeping a watchful eye on what they were doing. She even asked to be shown the pictures on the guy’s camera. I don’t know if she made him delete any of them or if she just flipped through them disapprovingly.
- After the waitresses had ended their dinner show, it was karaoke time. First, one of the well-dressed businessmen got up on stage and sang. Then, an Asian man in shorts and sandals made a very courageous attempt at singing Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” in English. He put on a pretty good show and tried to encourage us to join him on the stage, since we were the only Westerners in that restaurant and the only ones who might have really known the words to that song. We preferred to stay seated and applauded him wildly instead. When we asked him, whether he was from North Korea, he vigorously denied: “No, no, no! South Korea! I’m from South Korea!”
- After the karaoke, the management began to turning off some lights in the restaurant. A subtle hint for the customers to pay up and leave.
- As we got out of the place, all the waitresses lined up near the exit, bidding us adieu. I wondered how they lived in Phnom Penh: were they free to explore the city? Did they have lives of their own? Or were they holed up in some barrack-like communal living quarter and not allowed to befriend foreigners?
- What did these waitresses think of Cambodia and the relatively carefree and colorful life in that city? How would they feel when they’d head back to Pyongyang? What would they tell their friends and families back home about the world out there? Or were they so deeply convinced by North Korean ideology that they really believed in the words of the Dear Leader?