Sunday, July 24, 2011


Things are really starting to come together for me here in Bucheon.  I'm enjoying myself and meeting more and more people each week.  Definitely comfortable in my surroundings now.  The job is pretty easy now that I've been in it for almost two months, which means one thing of course:  time to start traveling!  Let's start with a mud festival, what else?...

We look deceivingly clean here, but since we're in the "prison" we're constantly being splashed with buckets of mud from behind.  

 About a week ago, the continuous rain of the monsoon season finally ceased, and luckily, it stopped in the middle of the day on Saturday while I was in Boryeong.  It's about a 2 hour drive south of Seoul, and for nine days in the summer it's home to largest mud festival in the world.  I went on a trip organized by Rhythm and Booze, the local expat bar that's about a block from where I live.  We had a full busload of people, so about 40, including several teachers from my school and lots of other foreigners that lived around Bucheon.  We left Friday night at 11pm (have to wait until all of us get out of work) and we got into Boryeong at about 2am.  The hotel was called Drama hotel and was right on the beach.  The name could of predicted some of the events that would later unfold that night, mainly one person in the room who had too much soju (a Korean liquor, think vodka without as much of a bite to it) and decided the floor of the hotel was a good place to get sick.  But aside from that, it was a fun weekend.  We went to the rooftop of the hotel when we got there on Friday night, and had a Korean BBQ with plenty of drinks to go around.  Korean BBQ is basically fat pieces of pork that are grilled on top of a charcoal grill.  You take the piece of meat after it's cooked, dip into some hot sauces, then throw it, rice and maybe some kimchi (korean dish, kinda like cabbage) and roll it up inside some lettuce.  It's pretty damn tasty!  Of course hell would break lose at each table as eventually the grease would catch on fire, creating an inferno that occasionally would catch the wooden picnic tables on fire as well.  But anyways, we all survived.  At around 5am we figured we might as well stay up and watch the sun rise, only to realize at 6am that it was still really overcast, and that the sun was out already and it was just another dreary, sky full of clouds kind of day.
Improvised dance party on the beach to wash off the mud.
Korean kids getting their mud on at the stations.  And yes, it did come out of all my clothes luckily.

The next day we headed down to the main part of the festival, which had stations where you'd begin to cover yourself in the mud.  From there you'd go into the main part that had a lot of inflatable rides that become 10x more fun once the ride and yourself is covered in mud.  The had mud pits with everyone wrestling and such, and pools to clean off in or just make a mess.  In the pool we caught the attention of many by racing from one side to another (it was maybe 2 and half or 3 feet deep).  Unfortunately for all the photographers who decided to get a picture of us running towards the end, we all we diving for the edge of the pool areas to win the race, and ended up covering several nice looking cameras with water.  Stupid foreigners! ha.  The whole festival started in the 90's to promote the mud that's found by the coast of Boryeong, and used for its natural benefits in a bunch of different cosmetics.  Anyways, they have a few stages with bands playing, and a beautiful beach right which the festival is set up along.  The rain stopped mid Saturday afternoon, which allowed us to be able to watch the fireworks for the opening weekend on the beach, and sit and drink on the beach all evening.  I have to say it's pretty funny but I've definitely seen more sunrises in Korea than sun sets.  Monday to Friday I'm at the school teaching during sunset, and when the bars never close and the nightlife is never ends hear, I constantly find myself getting back to my apartment at 6 or 7am after a night out...and I really have no complaints about it!
Some of the group in front of one of the many inflatables.
A little different but just like the parks in the city, Koreans will bring tents and set them up for the day right on the beach..

It was so good to get out of the city and get in the ocean there.  The water felt great once you dived in, and the fresh sea breeze was refreshing all weekend.  Now that I got out I want to keep exploring Korea, the drive back on Sunday showed me how beautiful the country side is.  This weekend is my summer vacation (yep, I have Friday July 29th off until Tuesday August 2nd, some summer break!).  On Saturday and Sunday I'm heading to Gangwon-Do and the Taebaek mountain area with a tour company that takes foreigners (mainly English teachers) on trips around Korea.  The other days I might find some touristy things to do and continue to explore Seoul.  Hoping to have a lot of fun, meet a lot of people, and to share the experience with all of you.  Here's a picture of Taebaek mountain area that I found online:

Very excited for this indeed!