While I spent a lot of time debating as to whether I wanted to chronicle all of my KCON-related adventures this year, I decided that doing so has become a sort of tradition, so skipping out on it this year just seemed kinda sad. (Especially once people starting telling me how much they were looking forward to reading all about my time in NY. ) I had no idea people actually enjoyed reading about my daily adventures but who am I to deny those willing to read anything I write? For those of you who weren’t able to attend this year’s convention but would really like to know what such an adventure is like, I invite you to join me as I share my adventures with the world. For those of you who asked for this specifically, here it is! Enjoy!
My first day of adventures started at the sweetest of hours: 2 freaking 3o in the morning. Yup. I am a sucker for those cheap early morning flights and having gone to bed at the most sensible of times (aka 1:00 AM) I was all sorts of awake and ready to tackle this 860 mile trip to the East Coast. (Hmmm… Sarcastic much???) Leaving for the airport around 3, I arrived at O’Hare with plenty of time to check in, make it through security, find a bathroom, grab breakfast and read about 10 chapters in my book. (Believe it or not, I learned my lessons last year and made sure I had a book with me before I left the house so that those endless hours waiting at the gate and in-flight, wouldn’t bore me to tears. Woohoo!)
Both my time at the airport and my flight were incredibly uneventful, which is a good thing, seeing as how I was way too tired to deal with any sort of shenanigans. Arriving at New York City’s JFK International Airport in one piece, I started my trek down the 18,000 mile-long terminal locally known as Terminal 4. Having trodden this path last year, I should have been rocking my hiking boots and a walking stick, instead of my high-top Chucks, but somehow I manged to drag myself across that vast and incredibly crowded wasteland (can you really have a crowded wasteland???) of endless gates and over-priced food and eventually found myself on the train, that would take me to the other train, that would eventually take me to Manhattan.
An hour and a half later, I hiked my way up out of the subway and ran (quite literally) into a full-fledged street market. The smell of hot dogs and grilled sausages smacked me upside the head so hard I nearly fell over and I resist the urge to wander my way through the crowd. So I didn’t. Meandering here and there, just soaking it all in, I was instantly transported back to my days in Europe. Reminiscing over days long gone by, I savored those sweet memories of my time in Germany, Poland and Prague and the street markets I explored there. Not gonna lie, in that moment my heart was truly happy and then I looked up and found myself surrounded by towering buildings, gleaming in the bright noonday sun. Suddenly those happy feelings were replaced by a profound sense of wonder as my poor tired brain tried to wrap my head around the fact that I wasn’t actually back in Europe, but rather in the heart of downtown Manhattan. The whole idea kinda made me chuckle and then the smell of all that delicious food reminded me I hadn’t actually eaten anything since yesterday so I decided to forgo any further wandering and instead try to find the building where my friend worked so we could meet up and grab some lunch.
Despite the fact that I’d never been in that part of Manhattan before, I found my way to Park Ave without any trouble and the next thing I knew, I was sitting down to an enormous bowl of kimchi fried rice, surrounded by some of my most amazing friends. How long we all sat there, chatting, eating and just enjoying each other’s company, I don’t really know. I’m pretty sure it was a couple of hours, at least but really, it wasn’t nearly long enough. Sadly, as all good things tend to do, our time together came to an end as we all went our separate ways. Of course this wasn’t a sad parting as we’d all be meeting up again at KCON the following morning.
Alone once more, and exhausted beyond all reason, I decided making my way over to the Prudential Center to meet up with friends and do the whole early check-in thing was a good idea. Catching another one of those trains that took me to another train, I made the long trek to New Jersey without any trouble. Though I did end up sprinting across NY’s Penn Station, just to make sure I caught my train before it left. Which I did. And only got slightly lost in the process. (Hey, that darn train station is as confusing as heck! Especially when you’re not a NYC native!)
Like all the other train rides of the day, this one was uneventful and I made it to NJ’s Penn Station in a snap. Grabbing an Uber, it was off to the hotel to meet up with the girls I’d be sharing a room with that night. Not gonna lie, pulling up to that hotel was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. Seriously, it looked like it could have either been a crack house or haunted. Maybe both. Either way, it was terrifying but I had incredible friends with me so we braved it all together. All checked in and settled, we made our way over to the Prudential Center and they both checked in for the convention while I wandered around, grabbing a few photos of the crowd as the traditional trading of the artists engagement cards commenced.
No matter how many times I go to KCON, I’m always amazed and slightly amused by the trading of those all-important artist engagement cards. It’s incredible how one tiny little scratch-off card can bring someone so much joy and yet, I can’t deny that I myself, have both squealed and cried because of them. In fact, not long after my sweet friends scratched off their own cards, I myself was on the verge of tears as they somehow (and don’t even ask me how because I honestly have no idea) managed to find me an audience pass for KNK and Highlight and a freaking hi-touch for SF9. Yeah, I had a serious fangirl moment when I got that little card of unbridled joy in my hand. I’m pretty sure there were tears in my eyes as the very thought of meeting my boys, and more specifically Zuho, kinda did me in. (Hey, emotional Zombie gets even more emotional when she hasn’t slept, okay?) At least I wasn’t the only one freaking out. My sweet, sweet friends somehow managed to get high-touches for KNK and Highlight as well as audience passes for all 3 groups. In short, we all got to see the 3 groups we wanted to see the most on Friday and each of us got to high-touch our most bias-y bias group. Well, okay, I would have LOVED to have gotten a high-touch for Highlight and/or CNBLUE and/or NCT 127 as well but just having a high-touch of any sort was enough to make this Zombie’s KCON dreams come true. (Seriously, I’ve been waiting 4 years and 5 KCONs for a high-touch pass to fall into my hands so to have it actually happen was just… UGH! I have no words…)
With passes secured and all of our KCON dreams set to come true, the 3 of us headed to dinner. With food to eat and plenty to chat about, we had all sorts of fun, planning out our adventures for the weekend. I’m happy to say, I wasn’t the only fangirl in tears as the idea of meeting biases loomed before us. Oh! You have no idea how exciting it is, knowing you’re actually going to get to meet someone you’ve loved since before they debuted. The feeling is indescribable! Lucky for me, I had a bit of a distraction during dinner as Ashley (@multifacetedacg) and her sister Jess (@thejesslyfe) walked into the restaurant and sat down across from us. Having not seen Ashley since LA last year, it was great, being able to catch up with her for a bit. Of course she, being the baller that she is, was all sorts of busy, even while eating, but we still managed to chat a bit before parting ways.
With dinner over and an entire day’s worth of exhausting travel beginning to wear on us all (my poor friends had actually driven the nearly 900 miles from Milwaukee to get to KCON) we all agreed that heading back to the hotel to crash was the best idea we’d ever had. While I can’t say the mile-long walk back to the hotel was the best idea we ever had, we survived and all agreed at the end of it, that Uber would be the only way we ever traveled around Newark ever again.
Safely back in our room, all showered and feeling human again, we all somehow ended up piled on one of the beds, chatting about pretty much everything while Emmie made bracelets and I went through my usual pre-convention prep. Seriously, you have no idea how many things need to be charged, packed and readied before a Zombie sets out on a day’s worth of KCON adventures. Let me just say, there’s a lot of crap that needs to be done and it takes a flipping long time before I ever feel prepared and ready. (As in even when I’m walking out the door I have a moment of panic as the fear of not being prepared enough strikes.)
As the 3 of us wound down for the evening, we all knew that we were sitting on the brink of a most amazing weekend. (The fact that we all 3 had a high-touch was proof enough of that.) What, exactly, all of that amazingness would entail was still a bit of a mystery but we all knew that whatever happened tomorrow, it would be inevitably become a day none of us would forget.