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Aside from getting to see a piece of Korean culture and tradition, another reason to go see the local festivals is that they only happen once a year. And if you’re only there for a year, you basically only get one chance to see them. Obviously. Luckily, since I stayed for year and a half, I got to see the Lotus Lantern Festival twice. This is probably my second favorite Korean festival after Mud Fest. Naturally (seriously, go to Mud Fest if you can!).

I wish this time around, I had also been able to go to some of the other, smaller festivals that celebrate Buddha’s birthday and lead up to the lantern festival. Unfortunately, this time around I was also quite busy, and therefore I wasn’t able to help continue the AWESOME scavenger hunt from the year before. But at least I got to see the lanterns again. A bunch of (wise) co-workers went too.

Last time around, I had tried to take pictures which failed miserably. This time I took videos. MUCH more successful. So if you go to this festival, record it with videos.

This only came out in the darkness because it was stationary.

One funny thing happened at the festival. I was standing up against the barrier between the onlookers and the parade. Next to me was a family who spoke French. The daughter was sitting up close to the barrier and, being a cute foreign child, a woman in the parade came by and gave her a lantern and everyone was delighted. Not sure what to do with it, she gave it to her parents who were sitting behind her and they put it on the floor. So then another woman gave her another lantern and she passed that back to her parents who put it down. Then the girl was given a pikachu lantern (which I have to admit was super cool). This continued until everyone in her family, which was about six or seven people, had a lantern. It was cute the first couple of times but… there were other people who wanted lanterns (like me!). Share your lanterns, French-speaking people.

Anyway, lanterns are pretty cool souvenirs to get from Korean, but difficult to take home as they are made of paper. I had gotten a lantern from an AMAZING Tibetan restaurant in Dongdaemuncalled Everest and only managed to get it home because it could be folded up. And even then, it still got a tear on one of the paper panes.

Belated but not forgotten: Saturday and Seoul Century!

On Saturday, CDI celebrated the Lotus Lantern Festival and our general comradery with an epic scavenger hunt through Seoul. We met up at 11am, split into teams of 4 and then the race was on! I was teamed up with Mohammed, Ruth and Bethany (with Derrika and Quinn set to join the group later since Mohammed and Ruth had to leave early). We had a plan. We couldn’t be beat. Our determination would see us through to the end and we would come out victorious!

Before I get into the details of our scavenger hunt, let me show you the rules and list of things we needed to find. Be warned: some of the items we needed were a little, shall we say, adult.

Seoul Century 2010

Rules:

  • Your team may complete these 100 random things in any order, for some anywhere and in any way you interpret the instructions
  • Photos must accompany each item. 1 member must be pictured in each photo.
  • The end point is Insadong at 7pm along the parade lines.
  • You may find locations in any way possible.

The 100 Random Things:

Key:

Bold = We definitely did it

Italics = We kind of didn’t but with technicalities

Strike-out  = We didn’t do it

  1. Visit 5 different Family Marts
  2. Eat a food item you’ve never tried before
  3. Play in a playground
  4. Take a picture with an old man/lady (respectfully)
  5. Find a Korean BBQ in Itaewon
  6. Go to “Nowon” Station – take a picture of people or money
  7. Visit the World Cup park
  8. Race an athlete along the Han River
  9. Find a post office
  10. Tell the time at the giant clock at National Assembly
  11. Buy something from a subway vendor (in-transit)
  12. Photobomb someone or something
  13. Sing on the subway
  14. Get a cup of water out of the Han
  15. Have a soju tasting session (bonus point if someone can identify the different brands)
  16. Jump shot in a park
  17. Buy a pack of condoms and use them (Haha, this one was completed pretty innocently – Derrika used a straw to blow it up.)
  18. Find a Konglish clothing item
  19. Take a picture of a Korean soldier
  20. Find a police station
  21. Collect a concert poster
  22. Dance to music in public (outside a shop)
  23. Take a picture of the 63 building
  24. Find an animal in Seoul
  25. Watch 3 different food demos in Insadong
  26. Visit a palace and get a group shot
  27. Visit a large supermarket
  28. Take a photo of someone taking a photo
  29. Add a lock to Namsan Tower
  30. Adjust your appearance in a public mirror/shiny surface
  31. Stand in the middle of the street (the busier the better)
  32. Find another ChungDahm Institute (inc. April) (we were soooo close to getting this one!)
  33. Find graffiti
  34. Collect 5 different hooker cards
  35. Sit on someone’s motorbike
  36. Find a Korean flag
  37. Have an Olympic moment in Olympic Park
  38. Visit a sexy bar
  39. Shout out loudly with crazy words
  40. Run through a fountain
  41. Get 3 free hugs
  42. Go to an optometrist. Try on glasses
  43. Find 7 different coffee shops
  44. Take a picture at Gwanghwamun
  45. Challenge someone in an arcade game
  46. Find people playing sport
  47. Find a Han River water display
  48. Order a Big Mac at Burger King
  49. Visit 2 Dos Tacos
  50. Hand stand at a monument
  51. Take a creative photo of Namsan tower
  52. Find an inappropriate sign
  53. Take a picture of 3 random sculptures
  54. Find a Mosque
  55. Go to the highest floor in an elevator of a building
  56. Find winter sports gear for sale
  57. Find an aquarium
  58. Drop your pants in public
  59. Take a picture in a tank/military plane
  60. Find Christmas decorations on display
  61. Hit balls at a batting cage
  62. Take a picture of the other team
  63. Practice taekwondo at a Pagoda
  64. Find an exotic car
  65. Techno dance in Techno Mart
  66. Find 5 different banks
  67. Leave your mark in Seoul
  68. Find a mascot
  69. Find a gold Buddha
  70. Take a picture of something phallic in your hand
  71. Eat insects
  72. Take a picture of a man at Ehwa Women’s University
  73. Find a foreign embassy (I’m not sure if this was done or not… but if it was, it wasn’t done correctly)
  74. Visit the Kimchi museum
  75. Find 5 coloured cars (no black, white or silver shades)
  76. Develop sticker photos with your whole group
  77. Take a picture of 3 unconventional skyscrapers
  78. Win a prize from a street game machine
  79. Take a picture with a street performer (bonus for playing with)
  80. Collect free sample(s) in Myeongdong
  81. Find couples wearing couple clothing
  82. Take a picture with each denomination of Korean currency
  83. Buy flowers and give to a stranger
  84. Wear something matching – all members
  85. Take a picture on the Gangnam pillars
  86. Find someone with a mullet
  87. Collect a wetnap from a restaurant. Unopened
  88. Screen golf
  89. Take a picture of a famous person
  90. Eat street food
  91. Find the Korean Stock Exchange (We thought we had this, but we may have gotten the wrong building)
  92. Take a picture holding a pet on sale
  93. Find children at Children’s Grand Park
  94. Go into a typical Korean apartment building
  95. Walk across the Han River
  96. Get on a new bus
  97. Find a theatre
  98. Find the most expensive item on sale you can
  99. Try on traditional Korean clothing
  100. Join a parade

We have 66 indisputably finished items and an additional 12 items with varying degrees of issue. For example, at one point our group had to split off since two group members we going to see a soccer game, so there are pictures we have where we’re not a whole group. Then there are the two items where I’m not sure where we stand. Finally, there are 20 items that we just didn’t do.

Now on to the adventure! But later… I know it’s taken me forever to post this but… I had a long day today (which I’ll eventually post about). I’m tired. I’ll edit this later.

Mohammed, Ruth, Bethany and I set off for Gangnam (on a new bus!). That wiped out a lot of the items on the list, or at least part of them (We didn’t know there were two Dos Tacos there- RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER!) and we took an express subway train to Yeoido.

I hadn’t been to Yeoido before but its a nice area. It’s where a lot of South Korea’s financial stuff (like the Korean Stock Exchange, that we may not have actually got a picture of…). It’s also along the Han River. Even though the Han is really dirty, it was nice to actually visit a body of water with the weather as nice as it was.

After Yeoido, we went to Ehwa University, met up with Quinn and Derrika, and let our mark in Seoul – we wrote our names on the brick path. Note to self: It’s by a bench outside a convenience store. After this, Ruth and Mohammed left to go to a World Cup game and the rest of us had to find our way to Insadong to turn in what we found/

Yeah… that didn’t work. Derrika ended up leaving before we made it because she wasn’t feeling well and Quinn, Bethany and I decided to take a taxi back so we could make it to the final Lantern Festival Parade in time. Except… there was a lot of traffic BECAUSE of the parade and the road they had shut down. So we ended up getting out and taking the subway… to the WRONG stop. Jongno-3-ga. We were supposed to go to Jonggak.

But whatever. We watched the parade from Jongno-3-ga. Which bring me to one of the best parts of the day: the parade! Most of it was Koreans marching with lanterns, which was cool but it paled in comparison to the AWESOME fire-breathing floats they had. Behold the (coming-soon-hopefully!) video!