July 13, 2008
My title probably gives away the primary narrative of this journal. Myself and some of my friends went to Boryeong Beach to attend the 11th annual Mud Festival. Boryeong is known for its rich beautifying mud and that is exactly what we are enjoying. At the festival you are able to buy mud soaps, shampoo, etc. and also play in the mud like you are 10 years old. There were mud slides, mud prisons and mud tubs that everyone could play in. Slides are self explainatory but the mud tubs and prison hold a specific purpose. The prison was for those who were just not quite muddy enough. They would step into the wagon and have mud thrown at them. It was a pretty small space so there wasn't really anywhere they could go. The mud tub was a little less dramatic but pretty easy to understand the purpose. You walk into it like a traditional bathtub and walk out of it a whole lot dirtier. When we first got to the tub they ran out of mud...yes, out of mud, and we had to wait 5-10 minutes until more was delivered. When more was delivered it barely covered the bottom of the tub so many of us would just wallow around trying to get muddy.
This truly was a festival that reached a good variety of people. There were older people there all of the way down to very young kids there with their families. Along with the people there to enjoy the mud there was a massive amount of photographers. At many of the main events it would not be surprising to see 8-10 large and expensive cameras trying to get the shot. It is not known either whether they were part of a newpaper, magazine or purely there to create their personal collage of pics.
The activities were on Boryeong Beach so getting clean was not a problem but staying clean proved to be a little challenging. If you wanted to go the 7-11 or Lotteria (food place) you had to pass many people with mud on them. Some were a little aggressive trying to hug or touch you with their muddy bodies after you were all cleaned up. This proved to be one of the only disappointing parts of the weekend. I would imagine that at a beach with mainly young people (ages 20-25 I would guess) and quite a bit of alcohol and immaturity so I should have expected behavior that was less than desirable at times. It is disappointing to a large degree as this is what the locals will probably remember as their experience with tourist or foreigners.
The end of day one was a fireworks show that was quite amazing. I am hoping to get some pictures/video loaded soon so you can see. I would rival many 4th of July fireworks displays in teh states. I was very impressed.
We got back to our room (yes, 10 X 12 rumored to cost about $150-200 per night). There were 5 of us in this little space which was okay for sleeping but traditional Korean quarters do not have bed so you have to sleep on pads on the floor with a blanket and a really tiny pillow. To make matters even more interesting the A/C was on practically all night (a brief reprieve in the middle of the night for a couple hours) and we were all freezing in the morning. I felt especially bad for Mark and Jenny as they had to sleep under the sleeping pad to get some warmth. The next morning we were supposed to check out by 11:45am but to the obvious concern of the pension owners they came around @ 9:30am, while many were still asleep, and banged on the door for everyone to get up. Not just once but many times during the morning. One time they actually came into the room and turned on the light. Needless to say it frustrated many of the patrons.
Once we left the room we got some food and finished the day taking in the beach and avoiding the mud. We had definitely had our fill the day before. The beach was pretty nice and had some pretty rock formations. This day was pretty foggy though so the visibility was not ideal but it was still nice. We left the beach around 1:00pm to go to a military boot camp; you guessed it, in the mud. Neither me or my friends participated as, again, we were pretty over the mud but it was fun to sit out and watch the others play around for another hour or so. They had lunch for us there and then we began our trek back.
We began back around 3:30ish stopping once for snacks and a break but made it back to Itaewon around 6:30. We had some food there and got back to the apartment around 8:00pm Sunday night. Extremely exhausted but happy we were able to experience the weekend.
I loaded some pictures here but I also have a lot more on my Facebook site. If you don't have access to Facebook you can also use this link to view the pictures.
Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers. I continue to get more comfortable with my surroundings as every week passes. Drop me a note and let me know how you are all doing if you get a chance.
Take care and enjoy,