Weekends in Korea
July 24, 2011 3 Comments
The lack of updates to the blog has been pretty appalling. But make no mistake, just because the blog has been pretty dry doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing anything. It’s quite the opposite. So I thought it’d be a good idea to let you guys in on some of the weekends I’ve been having over here.
These events all occurred some time in the past so It’s hard to keep the details together. But I’ll try my hardest to sort them from most to least recent.
Moreyeong Mug Festival at Daecheon Beach
Mud fest is probably considered (at least of us foreigners) To be one of the biggest parties in all Korea. People travel from other countries to cover themselves in mud on the beautiful scenic beach.
For a little History we turn to Wikipedia:
The Boryeong Mud Festival is an annual festival which takes place during the summer in Boryeong, a town around 200 km south of Seoul, South Korea. The first Mud Festival was staged in 1998 and, by 2007, the festival attracted 2.2 million visitors to Boryeong.
The mud is taken from the Boryeong mud flats, and trucked to the Daecheon beach area, where it is used as the centrepiece of the ‘Mud Experience Land’. The mud is considered rich in minerals and used to manufacture cosmetics. The festival was originally conceived as a marketing vehicle for Boryeong mud cosmetics.
Many of the attractions there were inflatable rides like slides, obstacle courses, etc. covered in mud. It was like being a kid again at a birthday party, just that you were supposed to get dirty.
If you didn’t want to go on a ride you could always go to the mud prison.You stand huddled up in a pretty crude looking cave while about three guys constantly splash you from all directions with buckets full of mud. The only time in my life I’ve ever been in jail and I didn’t want to leave.
At special booths they had multicolored mud and they would paint you different colors. Sometimes you’d see some pretty fun and interesting designs like country flags painted on peoples bodies from head to toe.
Probably the best attraction to the whole thing is the mudwrestling pit. You jump in a giant pool with dozens of other people and just get slicked up in mud. Everyone tries to wrestle and trip up other people. I’ts pretty common to see people fall on one another but no one ever gets hurt. One thing about this attraction is it’ll probibly get you the most complete mud coverage out of the whole place. It was very common for me to actually get mud in my eyes. Thankfully these are pretty safe natural cosmetic products so other than a piece of sand they really didn’t bother you at all. However, my friends with contacts were pretty unhappy about it.
Worst part about the festival was the lines. This is considered to be one of the biggest festivals in Korea (atleast to the foreigners.) So you’ll spend an hour in line for a 3 second slide. A few times I had soldiers try to cut in line in front of me.
Kigu Birthday Party and Soccer Game
I wish I had more photos of this day. Lets just say I have some very interesting friends. When one of them wanted to have a very unusual birthday they asked they everyone buy Kigus so they could go to a Soccer match.
If you are curious what a Kigu is look no further than http://www.kigu.co.uk/:
The word ‘Kigu’ is short for ‘kigurumi’, which literally translates as ‘costumed animal character’ in Japanese. Kigurumi are already hugely popular in Japan, where they are worn as both streetwear and pyjamas, but they’ve never been sold outside Asia before. Kigu is proud to be the first company to bring these amazing animal suits to Europe.
Kigus are unique in the world of fancy dress. They hang loosely on the body, which makes them really comfy and unrestricting. You can slip in and out of a Kigu in seconds and you can even wear your own clothes underneath!
Each of our Kigu animals is lovingly represented, with exactly the right eyes, ears, nose and tail. The Kangaroo even comes with a joey in its pouch and the Chicken with a little chick in its pocket.
So all of my friends (minus me). Went to a full soccer game (in the middle of swealtering summer heat) wearing giant cute animal pjs. Hilarity ensued…although we never got to be on the jumbotron. I felt a little left out so I went to this nearby big box store bought a safari hat and a butterfly net four about $5 and made a nametag that said “Zookeeper.” We went out to the club afterwards and finished the night with Karioke. A fantastic time was had by all.
Sand Festival at Haeundae Beach, Busan
I had the pleasure of attending another very big Korean festival earlier this year. This trip was one of my most enjoyable although i spent a good deal of it sick. The Sand Festival takes place on Haeundae Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Korea located in Busan. The Festival last for weeks and has all kinds of special events like volleyball tournaments but the biggest attractions are the mammoth sprawling sandcastles.
All of the following images have been credited to :http://blog.naver.com/PostView.nhn?blogId=ijlw&logNo=100130297169
The sandcastles were huge ornate pieces and they had so many more than what I have up here on the blog. I really do encourage you guys to go to this blog where I found them and view the rest.
However, as I said before I really didn’t spent too much time gawking at the castles and sculptures. The sun in Korea on a hot summer day can be pretty overwhelming. After we saw the beach we went to a movie theater to watch X-men origins and cool off. (Just in case you were curious…I can watch movies here in Korea. They usually just add korean subtitles so I can enjoy them [just like I enjoyed Harry Potter today] with other Korean audiences.)
My friends were smart enough to realize, that like many Korean events the more people that are there the less fun you will actually have. We actually stayed pretty far away from the festival on another beach in Busan. Although many native Koreans believed the beach to be pretty ugly, we found it a beautiful untouched jem (too bad i can’t remember it’s name.) The beach was practically uninhabited, meaning we could let off fireworks, dig giant holes and enjoy the beach without worrying about anyone else.
I was very glad also to experience something uniquey Korean during this trip. Although we spent the majority of the time in a rented room with friends of friends, the first night we arrived we decided to stay in a Jimjilbang. These bathhouses/hotels are literally all over the country and every native Korean recommends them highly.
Image Source: http://wiki.galbijim.com/Jjimjilbang
Goign to a jimjilbang is a pretty humbling expereince. Maybe I’m looking too far into it but there’s a lot in it that I see mirrored in budhism. Suffice to say I don’t think something like this can really exist in the states as prolifically as it does in Korea. The second you arrive they take eveything. You’re clothes your shoes your belongings and they give you almost a prison jump suit. The suit is only for sleeping, because the majority of your time in a Jimjilbang you’ll be naked. For obvious reason the places are usually split right down the middle for men and women. Once you give up your clothes you take a shower in a large bathroom. You really feel like a native Korean.
Image Credit: http://spas.about.com/cs/shiatsu/l/aa111801a.htm
Then you reach the actual bath. These are usually a series of huge pools with different kinds of water. The one i went to had ice pool of ice cold salt water, warm jaccuzzi temperature water and another pool which I was almost certain could cook human flesh should the need ever arise. Reguardless the water felt wonderful. My friends had to drag me out.
The great thing about Jimjilbangs is the fact that you can stay overnight. After having such a relazing peaceful evening who realy wants to jump back in their cars and drive home. It also means that if you were just planning on finding a place to stay overnight you couldn’t find a better alternative (Especially considering the all inclusive price to stay in one is $8-$10 per person.) The only problem with this is that you have to sleep on the floor with a lot of other people. If you’re lucky you might get a floor mat in a dark room with a small square pillows but if you’re not you’ll get a towel and wooden blocks. It’s not bad since the floor is usually heated and warm, but to be honest if you live in Korea for long enough you almost start expecting to sleep on the floor wherever you go.
Well I suppose that’s all I’ve got for now. I know I’ve been MIA for a while, but I’m still here guys and still having the time of my life. I’ll post the last Japan post soon so I can write about more recent events. Hopefully I can get my slate cleared so I ca give you all a good few posts on my upcoming long vacation in Bangkok.