I didn’t want to waste my flights to Sydney to go and see the k-pop concert that got canned, so I thought I’d go to Sydney anyway and do a bit of shopping. Since I can’t blog about the concert, I’ll just blog about Sydney instead and share with you the k-pop and travel-related knowledge I gained while wandering about, just in case you should ever happen to find yourself in Australia’s biggest city as a k-pop fan and wonder where and how you can buy stuff.
* The Sydney train system is awesome and runs like clockwork on weekdays, but weekends are hit and miss because they’re always doing track work. This can add tons of time to a journey so plan in advance for delays if you’re travelling on a weekend. The train system is also really expensive, and not just the tickets. Don’t buy anything from the train station vending machines where a single bottle of water starts at $4. In the city you can get off the train and find people selling water and snacks on street corners for 25% of the price less than a block away. There is also a train line that goes directly from the city to the airport which is worth knowing about, and fuck me that shit is expensive but it’s probably still cheaper than a taxi. Use the trains, the buses are shitty and don’t run on time because every time there’s an accident on the freeway (which is, all the time) your bus gets stuck in traffic and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T EVEN CONSIDER DRIVING ANYWHERE EVER EVER EVER. And don’t bicycle it on the freeway or you will die as some poor unfortunate person found out while I was there.
* If you are k-pop shopping (which you will be, because you have good taste, and because the k-pop gig you will have come to see will no doubt be cancelled by the time you get there, so you will need something to fucking do), you will want to get off at the Central station and go directly to Media Asia which is on 50 Dixon St (which is actually a mall) and only a few blocks away. There you will find pretty much everything you could ever want that’s k-pop related – CDs, merch, k-dramas, etc. Everything is helpfully sorted by genre and taste (in a genius move, the boy bands and the girl bands are on different shelves) and you can even buy pop and movies from other Asian countries as well, should you happen to be one of those strange raincoat-wearing people who likes a lot of that j-pop stuff.
* Sydney also have Korean gift-shop chain Morning Glory but the k-pop selection there isn’t significantly better than that in other Australian cities, and as usual things are in glass cases so you can’t really browse properly, and only one of the many city chain stores actually stocks k-pop – in this case, the one you’re looking for is not the one in the Dixon St mall next to Media Asia but just up the hill and around the corner on Goulburn St. Might be worth a look if you’re a VVIP member but don’t get too excited – my collection at home is bigger. Significantly bigger.
Good luck playing “find the artist”…. and that’s only part of it.
* You’ll probably trip over a few bums on your way. Sydney is full of homeless people, but they’re not like the homeless where I live who will come up to you and molest you in public for change. Sydney homeless folks just stand on a busy street corner with a cardboard sign asking for stuff. One guy had a sign that said he wanted money for his vet bills. He had three dogs with him – the dogs looked healthier than he did. In the meantime I can’t afford to take my own cats to the vet so fuck that. Another guy wanted $5 which I thought was a bit optimistic. I refuse to give money to homeless people because you never know if they’re really going to do with it what they say they will (I went out with a girl many years ago who told me she would beg for money for food and use it to feed her heroin habit, she said on a good day she could make $80 an hour), but I’ll help them out in other ways when I can. Some other guy had a sign saying he just wanted food and water so I gave him my water bottle. This instantly makes me a more charitable person than at least 95% of you reading this and probably 100% of Korean netizens.
* Speaking of money, prices for Media Asia and Morning Glory are about the same. You’re still better off cost-wise buying online at YesAsia, but the good thing about browsing is that it’s easier to find shit that you didn’t even know about. I bought a 2CD edition of T-ara’s Roly Poly that I didn’t know was a thing that existed.
* There are also some stores around that have k-pop stuff that looks like it’s for the Chinese market (oo-argh me hearties, thar be knockoff DVDs). A store called Laser City is in one of the malls off Dixon St and stocks these weird video DVD compilations of k-pop sorted by artist, and they seem to have one for every popular artist. The strangest thing of all is that for artists who only have a few videos out, they will fill up the rest of the DVD running time with live versions, and then when they run out of those – songs from completely different artists! The f(x) compilation that I saw there had about 10 different groups on it. Also some of the DVDs are a bit temperamental in certain DVD players – but on the plus side, they are really cheap, so it might be worth taking a punt, especially if you’re trying to track down hard-to-find Japanese-market videos like 2NE1’s “Scream”.
* Laser City and Media Asia both stock k-dramas, and for around the same price. I must admit I’ve never really gotten into k-drama, but I figured I’d give it a go, so I picked up some k-dramas with T-ara members in them. I have to keep it relevant to k-pop, and that way, at least if the drama is shit I can still get my value from watching the T-ara members. I’ll post some DVD reviews on this blog once I’ve gotten around to watching them (don’t hold your breath). Also I want to financially support k-pop idols being in dramas because I think that’s a good thing which should be encouraged. Don’t give me that shit about “they’re taking away opportunities from real actors” crap, idols draw international audiences into the dramas and give exposure to the other actors that DO appear that they otherwise probably wouldn’t even get. In netizen fantasy-land an idol is supposed to be an amazing singer and nothing else, but an idol’s job is really to be a jack of all trades, a multi-faceted media personality who can do a little bit of everything – it’s what they do. So don’t hate on them for doing their job, because it marks you out as a fucking retarded dipshit, like the reporter in this video who got his ass served by someone with an actual brain:
Justin Timberlake was the best thing in A Social Network so fuck that reporter.
* Still on the k-drama here, I picked up a copy of “Five Fingers”, the infamous flop drama that T-ara’s Eunjung was going to be in, but then was booted out from at the last minute because the production company stupidly thought that netizens’ trendy T-ara hate was a relevant litmus test of popular opinion, ha, WRONG. Predictably, the drama flopped without Eunjung’s presence in it. That however hasn’t stopped the production company from using her image on the front cover anyway!
There she is on the far right – what a bunch of cunts her production company are. It says a lot about her grace and humility as a person that she didn’t take them to the cleaners for every penny they had.
* Speaking of T-ara and how awesome and popular they are (and I WILL keep mentioning them in every single blog until netizens learn to be nice to them), I just happened to be walking by a karaoke bar and what was on the big screen but T-ara’s “Sexy Love” video. This is in a city where 95% of the population only know “Gangnam Style”.
So much for “their career is over”, etc. In the meantime, a nearby clothing store had a “nothing over $10” sale which included a whole rack of “Gangnam Style” t-shirts, which tells you everything you need to know about the likely future prospects of k-pop as a mainstream western cultural phenomenon for the time being. K-pop as a whole has all the signs at the moment of a stock that’s been over-valued. It’s never going to be more than a niche concern in the west for the immediate future, yet people are pushing it like it’s the next big thing. Hence big budget k-pop concerts that fail at the last minute, many talented artists consistently almost-but-not-quite breaking it in the west, the big three k-pop labels taking a dip in share prices every time their quarterly reports come out… but that’s okay though. Something doesn’t have to be popular to be good. It just means things might be a bit frustrating for a while, as people gradually get a clue. People promoting k-pop in western countries need to stop believe the industry’s own hype and should think smaller if they want the events to actually happen, here’s hoping that they learn from the dismal failure of the Heart concert. As Australia experiences higher Asian populations, the fortunes of k-pop here will change, but it will be a gradual shift, not a big explosion.
So that’s my Sydney trip, or the relevant parts anyway. Oh, if you want to eat in Sydney I recommend a great Vietnamese restaurant called Pasteur which you’ll find on George St on your way from the trains to the k-pop stores. Best place I’ve found to eat in Sydney – and cheap (well, cheap for Sydney). Tell them KPOPALYPSE sent you (and it’ll confuse the shit out of them and you might get kicked out but it’ll be funny and you can tell me what happened). And don’t go to the tourist areas, that’s for dickheads who do dickhead stuff like look at buildings and go “wow” like they’ve never seen a fucking building before in their lives. Peace and love, kids.