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With intensives over, it’s time for this blog to get back up to speed.
August 5 was Derrika’s birthday (which meant a delicious chocolate cake from Paris Baguette at work – side note: Paris Baguette = DELICIOUS). Because Thursdays during Summer 2010 meant full loads of classes for most teachers, she couldn’t really do anything to celebrate. But on Saturday, a bunch of us celebrated in style on a nice boat ride down the Han River in Seoul.
It was a nice leisurely party, only minorly hindered by the fact that the Han is really dirty. We saw several dead animals in the water (note, I said animals, NOT fish).
And as the sunset, it was a great opportunity for picture taking:
Because I haven’t posted in forever, thanks to my efforts to be a good intensive teacher while maintaining my social life taking up all my time, I’m going to now play catch up. The week following MudFest was an interesting one. From August 24th to July 31st, the April teachers had their vacation, which for me meant going the longest period of time here (9 days) yet without any interaction with Quinn (in case you haven’t noticed, he’s in basically all my posts). But it was for the better because I was super-busy that week.
However, the weekend was all mine. Here in Korea, it seems I’m slowly crossing things off the list of stuff I should do before I die – a list I didn’t realize I had. Most notably, I bungee jumped for the first time. There are other things, but bungee jumping kind of blows the others (mostly food related anyway) out of the water. Well, th 25th was an opportunity to me to cross off another thing.
I went with one of my co-workers, Kevin, and his girlfriend, to Jamsil station. Which, despite having been there before, I didn’t realize was also a mall and where LotteWorld is. Lotte is, according to Wikipedia, an East Asian conglomerate. And in Jamsil station, they happen to have an amusement park of sorts. I didn’t go into the amusement park (yet) but it looked interesting. More on that once I actually go there.
In addition to the amusement park, there’s also an ice rink, many food options, and perhaps most randomly, a shooting range. That was our destination this day. Kevin and his girlfriend had been before. Me. Never shot a gun before.
I chose a Smith & Wesson revolver (I can’t remember anything more specific than that), figuring it would be a simple and classic choice to start off with. I did pretty well. All my bullets ended up on the target and I scored a 68. Although I have to say I am definitely not a gun person. At least, not a shooting-guns-in-a-enclosed-space-so-they’re-extra-loud-and-I-ended-up-jumping-at-every-shot person. Maybe I’d do better shooting out in the open.
Mudfest takes place at Daecheon beach, so it’s a combination giant mud party and beach party for two weeks – what more could any one ask for? The mud in question is ‘beauty mud’, like the kind they use for facials, so it leaves you skin smooth. Anyway, we hopped onto the bus and… it started to rain. A LOT. By 10:30am, when we actually got to Boryeong, it was pouring so we mostly mucked around ’til the (acutally kind of chilly) rain stopped.
At 2pm on Saturday, we had to come back and check into our rooms. Even though Quinn and I paid for a 9-15 person room, we were assigned a (cheaper) 5-9 person room, with only three other people. Sweet. And when we went to check in, we discovered that the other three people were no where to be found. Also, sweet. And they were still no where to be found after taking what-ended-up-being an hour napped. In the end, we had roommates (which would come in handy later) but they didn’t show up for several more hours. After a much deserved nap, we were off for some fun!
While the beach certainly wasn’t amusement park size, there was still a good amount to do. Inflatable slides and mud ‘rides’, for lack of a better word, were set up along the beach. There were a couple of stages for performances. Beside one of the stages, there were permanent beach theme art figures set up, that at night we discovered glowed, and were a favorite photo-op site. At the end of this, there was what looked like a little paint ball war zone area (look at me – one day of paint ball and suddenly I’m throwing around words like ‘paintball warzone’) where people could literally cover themselves from head to toe in the mud. Which is exactly what we did. Unfortunately, there was a huge mud fight going on there, which was starting to turn ugly by the time we arrived. That is to say, people were throwing rocks and not mud. Very much not cool. That area was quickly shut down for the rest of the festival.
After that, we mostly wandered. There were mud wrestling pits (that this little person was not brave enough to enter) and this one inflatible ‘ride’ (again, for lack of a better word) where you were strapped into a bungee harness on one side of an alley and a friend was strapped into a harness on the other end. Then you had to run to the center and ring the bell hanging between the two ends. Fairly hard and shockingly fun. I did it first against Quinn when it was early in the festival and the bungee was not so muddy (and therefore still bungee-able) and we did pretty well. Later I did it again against Vy. Still fun but total fail. The bungee was so covered in stiffening mud that we couldn’t get close enough to the bell and both of us are short so we couldn’t reach it from a distance.
After that ‘ride’, Quinn and I did one stupid thing each. Let me start with Quinn’s stupid thing. Every time we got covered in mud we would eventually wander over to the beach and wash it off. On our first beach-going adventure, we were with a group of friends and weren’t really paying attention to what we were doing. So Quinn sees the water and launches himself towards it – forgetting that his phone is in his pocket. Yeah… it led a brave life but the little phone didn’t make it. Now, luckily I was smart enough to take my phone out of my pocket and leave it on the beach, away from the waves and wrapped in my poncho. Not that it did me any good because the battery was dead. So I brought it to a convenience store to get charged (paying a cool 1,000won for the service) and when I picked it up later, I put it in my pocket. And then I went on the giant mud slide, forgetting the phone was in my pocket because I hadn’t had it for a while. Yeah… it died too, choking up mud all the way.
Luckily, they were old used phones that we didn’t really pay much for so it wasn’t a HUGE loss. But it did mean that we were without phones and a way to get in touch with people to hang-out for the rest of the weekend. A sad thought when one of the big reasons everyone was going to MudFest was to see everyone else. Without phones, again we wandered.
One of the coolest things at the festival was this tent were you could get painted in colored mud. COLORED MUD! I was really gung-ho about getting the KoreanTaeguki on my face. I had seen a Korean woman walking around with it and it looked pretty cool. Unfortunately, when I went to get the blue on my face, everyone else was getting blue-d up like Avatar characters. And when I told the woman – in Korean no less! – she painted me like a Na’vi. Boo!
So I got in the red line, stole a red paintbrush (everyone was doing it!) and had Quinn paint the red taeguk onmy face. It wasn’t 100% correct, but it still looked pretty cool. Quinn ended up getting his face painted blue and then we grabbed a yellow paint brush so I could put a stripe across his eyes. Unfortunately… I ended up getting yellow paint on his contact lenses. Random observation: eyes that are painted over with yellow paint are really, really freaky. Once he washed the paint out, he looked like an Avatar character too.
Once properly painted, we managed to run into some of our training friends and luckily (thanks to borrow the phones of our roommates when they finally showed up) we were able to stay in touch with them for the rest of the evening, which ended up being pretty low key and chill. Ending with us hanging out on the beach, watching fireworks and doing cartwheels.
On to Sunday! Sunday was also pretty low key and chill. Quinn, Vy and I made a point to hang-out together since we didn’t see each other at all on Saturday. This was a day mostly reserved for playing on the beach and once we got bored with that we went up and sat in the shade of the trees and watched the surf.
We didn’t get very muddy on Sunday, with one notable exception. While we were in the shade of the trees, I realized that my clothes were really sandy and the sand kind of hurt. There was a huge art sculpture behind us and since we didn’t know where the bathroom’s were, Vy offered to keep watch while I ducked behind the art sculpture and tried to get the sand out of my clothes. There were construction workers off to the side who kind of watched us as we walked into the art sculpture… apparently not noticing here the ground was distinctly different.
Because it was made of quick sand. Or quick mud. It was this thick, red clay-mud hybrid that was obvious not beauty mud and not good for your skin. We walked a few steps into the sculpture and got stuck. I tried to get my feet out of my sandals and lost my balance, letting my feet fall back into the mud. And without sandals to stop them, my legs sunk into the mud up to my knees. Now, Quinn had the opportunity to be a chivalrous gentleman and come help us poor stuck ladies but he did not, opting to stay back and laugh. BOO! We had to pry ourselves out and then go find that illusive bathroom, so I could wash the red off my legs.
After that, it was pretty much time to go home. You’d think the weekend would end there but it did not! Vy decided to go to Gangnam with some friends but Quinn and I were beat so we asked if the bus could drop us off in Suwon instead of taking us to Seoul. Coincidently, our roommates, who were on the same bus as us, also lived in Suwon and since the bus had to drive through Suwon to get to Seoul, we figured they wouldn’t mind.
However, as it turned out… they did not drop us off in Suwon. Basically at the first ‘Suwon’ sign the bus driver saw on the highway, he pulled over and let us off. We ended up in Singal, which is not Suwon but somewhat close. But now that we are savvy travelers who can read Korean, it wasn’t too hard to find the right bus to get back to Yeongtong. Following this ordeal, we hit up a jjimjilbang and soaked out our soreness. A relaxing end to a real adventure of a weekend.