Mud Fest – Part 1 July 27, 2009Posted by jorkat in Boryeong.
And we’re back…I apologize for the delay, but out computer was being repaired from a virus that we contracted last week. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Two weekends ago we attended the 12th Annual Mud Festival in Boryeong, Korea. Boryeong is small town on the West Coast of Korea about a 3 hour drive from Seoul. The entire town is geared around this annual Mud Festival and it attracts thousands of visitors from all over Korea.
The special mud is dug up near Boryeong, trucked to the beach area, and dumped at a ‘Mud Experience Land’ which is basically an amusement park full of Mud. The Mud is considered rich in minerals and used to manufacture cosmetics. Maybe this was part of the initial allure of the festival, but healthy skin appeared to be last thing on most people’s minds that we encountered.
You can read more about the actual event here, but let me attempt to summarize the festivities in one sentence. Mud Fest is an excuse for Foreigners (and some Koreans) to come together and throw mud at each other while intoxicated. Imagine being Crescent Street during Grand Prix weekend and then incorporating mud into the festivities.
We had been warned in advance thanks to the Mulloskey’s blog and several of our co-workers that this was basically one big fraternity party (with mud), so I did my best impression of myself from ten years ago and probably shaved a few years off my life as a result.
Let’s get to some pictures shall we…
These are our luxurious accommodations. It’s what Koreans call a “Minbak” which in English means, sleep on the floor with strangers. I’m not kidding. This came as no surprise, as this is a common type of cheap hotel and we wanted a truly unique Korean experience. And when I say unique, I mean “cheap”. We ended up paying less than $60 each for our accommodations, 3-hour bus ride both ways and a t-shirt. We honestly spent more on beer then we did on transportation and hotel combined. We ended up in a room with 16 other people even though the room was only big enough for maybe 10 to sleep comfortably on the floor. Upon arrival we met a few people in our room and exchanged pleasantries. The only problem was that they had only provided 6 pillows and blankets for 16 people. I wasn’t too concerned though, as I didn’t intend on spending much time asleep in the room anyway.
Anyway, enough about the crappy hotel, let’s get muddy shall we…
Let’s just say the picture on the left is that last we’ll ever be seeing of that white t-shirt.
We had also been warned ahead of time to beware of the paparazzi. I paid little attention to this warning but was shocked by the number of Koreans carrying thousands of dollars worth of camera gear and taking pictures of every foreigner in sight. Some of them even camped out on rooftops with zoom lenses that would put any major sporting event to shame.
Whenever I had the opportunity, I turned the tables and took pictures of the paparazzi, while they took pictures of us.
This picture really doesn’t do it justice. Keep in mind that there were hundreds of Koreans with cameras much bigger than these, and that it was raining most of the day. Not to mention that mud was being flung through the air by yours truly every chance I got. There’s no way to didn’t take out a Nikon or two with some friendly fire.
How about some more random pics and video?
After wreaking enough havoc and posing for the paparazzi, we jumped in the ocean and cleaned ourselves off. We had showers back at the hotel floor and went back out for dinner. After a nice meal we headed towards the main stage for a concert and fireworks when the skies opened up. Just as it started, I suggested we take cover in a familiar location that I had read about a couple years ago.
This picture was taken in 2007 and was the only shelter within the vicinity that offered coverage from the rain and a nice view of the fireworks. It’s called Mud Prison and was full during the day of people posing for pictures, but we were the first to take occupancy once the rain started and it was the second best decision I made all weekend (the best decision will follow in the next post). We spent some quality time mingling with Koreans and Foreigners alike while taking in the impressive fireworks display.
The rain finally let up enough for everyone to move over to the stage area where a variety of performances kept us occupied and dancing well into the night. The acts ranged from break dancing to Hip Hop to Michael Jackson tributes. It was thoroughly entertaining. After it finished and the rain started back up again, we slowly headed back to the hotel after a long eventful day.
Little did we know that my (and Darren’s) night was just beginning…
Speech Day July 10, 2009Posted by jorkat in Seoul.
Back in May our school held a speech contest for all afternoon elementary and middle school students. Each student was to prepare a one-page speech on a topic of their choice. Depending on the class’s skill level, the students would then present their speeches in front of the entire school and either read or have it memorized. Most of the subjects were fairly obvious and mundane – soccer, my family, the usual boring stuff. But there was one student who stood out from the from the crowd and undertook the task of covering a topic so fascinating and complex, that it would shake the foundation of school right to its inner core. A topic so awe-inspiring and enlightening that it would be talked about for seconds, if not minutes after being read.
When I first announced to my afternoon class that we would be having such a contest, it was met with mixed reviews. Some of the stronger English speakers were somewhat enthused whereas the others displayed anxiousness or downright displeasure. Despite my attempts to dismiss the task as no big deal, the kids weren’t buying it. One girl in particular became downright angry and stated matter of factly that she had no intention of doing the speech and would not come to school that day.
During our break, Julia was almost in tears and extremely upset over the whole speech contest. After several minutes of negotiations, I was able to cut a deal that satisfied both parties. She agreed to prepare the speech but would not have to memorize it and would have the option of reading her speech in front of the school. After signing off on the agreement, we discussed some ideas for topics, but Julia had already made up her mind and wanted to keep her topic a secret. I agreed and was just thankful that she didn’t want to kill me anymore.
May 24th, 2009 is a day that will go down in the annals of history as the day the world’s next great speechwriter was discovered. This young lady composed a series of elegant prose that was destined to be considered among the great speeches of all time. When I read the first draft, my immediate thought was, there’s Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, there’s Lou Gehrig’s “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech and then there’s this:
I would like to tell you about my English teacher named Jordan. Jordan is funny and smart. The funny part is that he makes studying fun. When we play hangman he makes it fun and helps us learn new words. The smart part is that if we don’t know the answer he says a lot of things that help us understand. He also knows Spanish and French too. He is so kind to us that if we are hard at work and need help, he will tell us how to do it. If its a hard test he will say “it’s OK, you can do it” or “you can get a great score”. He says lots of nice things to us. I love you teacher. Oh, and one more thing, he makes us laugh when we do some of our work. He makes class fun and helps us understand English much better. I’m really happy to have Jordan as my English teacher.
Every word of this opus is completely authentic. I might even use it as a reference letter when I apply for my next job. The only aspect of the speech that she neglected to cover was how handsome I am, but aside from that I think she covered her bases. Unfortunately, Julia was too nervous to get up in front of the whole school and read her masterpiece. So for now, the only ones lucky enough to be exposed to this magnificent tribute are my loyal readers, and every teacher on staff that I forced to read it.