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Boryeong Mud Festival

September 4, 2010

On a fine, rainy Saturday, we decided to head over to another city for the annual Boryeong Mud Festival. This was a festival that involved – you got it, mud. Initially, I was a bit apprehensive about paying for a 3 hour trip there and back to wallow in mud with sweaty strangers for a whole day. Also, the most pressing concern for me was,”What if I soil my camera?”

In any case, the thought that it’s now or never and the plain fact that I probably would not have the motivation nor the time to head out there on my next trip (in the future) made me geared up for the journey out to the mud festival with classmates.

We woke that morning at 4:30am and took a reserved taxi down to the 영산 station that has express train lines that lead to other cities. On the way out of my dormitory (it was pouring), I saw a taxi pull up and an obviously drunk girl stumble out of the taxi and lie down immediately on the wet road while the alarmed boy was frantically trying to pull her up. Drunken Korean students at the crack of dawn!

In any case, we got to the station without any mishaps and proceeded with our day of adventure. The express train was really comfy and had swiveling seats, much like the kind that the Japanese express trains had, I later learnt. A round trip ticket cost 28,700 won (approximately $35). In this sense, it was probably slightly more expensive than Japan. A train to Yokohama from Tokyo only cost 350yen ($5), but we accidentally took the luxury train on our first day and paid an additional 400yen. But of course, Yokohama was much closer to Tokyo and Boryeong to Seoul so maybe my comparison isn’t all that fair. In any case, it was sporadically pouring once we reached the beach so we were freaking out that our whole day would be spent in cold, wet and miserable weather – not what we planned for an ideal day at a beach town.

The rain made beautiful deltas in the sand though (: Anything for a good photograph.

Seeing that the festival is primary a tourist event, it was no surprise to find ourselves in foreigner land. The festival only began in recent years when Borgyeong, a small seaside agricultural town decided that holding a mud festival generates more revenue for the town than through its conventional means of farming. Borgyeong mud is supposedly skin food, and nourishes the skin – how true it is, I don’t know but all I know is that you don’t want to accidentally get it into your mouth!

Fantastic caricatures of the foreigner types we got at the mud festival. They were very game though so it made it really fun. Except for this guy who kept running up behind us and screaming at us several times just for fun while his friends laughed (I wanted to punch him in the face but he was huge and obviously mentally unstable therefore potentially dangerous), it was a pretty fun experience.

There were also fun looking mascots walking around offering fantastic photo opportunities for us enthusiastic snap-happy tourists.

There were colored human statues walking everywhere! The blue one (shown above) was my favourite! There were hoards of people and the rain finally cleared up so we spent most of the time on the beach, away from the main crowd. That was my favorite part of the day, just picking up starfish that got caught in the sand during low tide and rescuing them by placing them back in water-filled areas. They were beautiful and it was an afternoon filled with sweet, damp romanticism (unfortunately punctuated by screams and shouts coming from the party area) as we ambled slowly away from the main crowd along the long stretch of beach.

(Above) They had colored mud booths where you could get yourself artistically decked out in…mud.

(Above) The rowdy party area I felt compulsed to escape after observing chaos on the stage and the party scene. Didn’t help that I was already showered and did not wish to get muddy/sweaty again by rubbing shoulders with these obviously inebriated strangers.

Speaking of showers, the whole management was a rip off with regards to shower organization. They did not charge an entrance fee into the festival but hey, when you have a festival involving mud, you would expect visitors to need to shower after romping around. The basic shower was in a bare area, and as you would realize in Korean baths – there are no cubicles and while I initially shied away from such showers, they became a kind of liberating act – no one bats a second eye. The shower cost 2,000won ($3) and they sold packets of soap and shampoo at the door also. You had to bring your own towel and there was no warm water. It was really scanty and not very well managed for a large scale annual event which has been happening for nearly 10 years. I wouldn’t mind paying for the shower, but to shower in freezing cold water on a freezing cold day after romping around in wet, watered-down mud? Ick. They could reorganize their showers and offer them for free, with hot water, soap and towels, while charging an entrance fee.

Anyway, off to the beach we wandered.

(Above) An elderly couple enjoy a quiet moment.

Looking for starfish, in perfect formation!

(Above) Found some!

(Above): Me with a starfish. Ignore my blowfish imitation face, and the lovey couple behind me. 抢镜头!Haha, I’m kidding. They were a really sweet couple and it was a fantastic backdrop, I’m so zhordeng here. *facepalm

US!

We met some ajummas who were collecting seashells. Or some kind of small clam like things.

(Above) A close up shot of what they were collecting.

Yuri and I with our saved starfish of the day. We deposited them into deeper pools later. Aren’t they beautiful?

With Luying and Miki! 🙂

Yuri carved ‘Level 3’ into the sand 🙂 Wooo Level 3!

Hm, I think they were looking for starfish 🙂

It was a really good day for me to experience what seaside towns in Korea feel like. The photos taken were just spectacular and a beautiful keepsake of good memories.

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