Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Busan International Fireworks Festival

Sorry for the lack of postings, yet AGAIN. I am still trying to get used to being busy. Pre-Korea I was sitting on my ass most of the time at home, So, this late sleeping, nap taking couch potato isn't quite used to the early hours of a full time job. Plus, it seems that at least 3 days out of the week I am doing something directly after school or lesson planning (procrastination=lesson planning outside of the normal work hours). Then, the weekends are dedicated to socializing and traveling, of course

The weekend of October 22, I went to the Busan Fireworks Festival. The actual festival took place over 3 days, but I only saw 2 days worth of fireworks. Shelley and I took the KTX to Busan that Friday (which took about one hour). We went straight to Gwangali beach. We got there about an hour before the fireworks were supposed to start and got a decent spot, right before you hit the actual sand. That day was the international fireworks. Unfortunately for us, this "decent spot" turned into the worst sardine can-like experience EVER.
Two things you should know: space is limited in Korea so it isn't uncommon to get an elbow to the ribs or have someone shoulder you and not receive an "I'm sorry" or "Excuse me." Second, ajummas and ajeossi (elder women and men) rule the world... or Korea at least. What I mean by this is, if an ajumma/ajeossi pushes you, you don't push back. If they yell at you, you don't yell back. You get the picture. It has to do with this whole hierarchy of age and respect.
Ok, back to the story. We were minding our own business for about half an hour- a little cramped but still some breathing room. All of a sudden a few ajummas start to push us in order to get to the front/to the beach. Ok, not too bad, we weren't allowed to complain anyway. Gradually more and more old people try to push their way to the beach. This was clearly NOT an option due to the thousands of people who had already claimed their spots on the beach early that afternoon. At one point, Shelley and I were separated by a sea of people trying to get to or away from the beach. Luckily an older man was nice enough to let her reclaim her spot. People were getting cranky, we were standing sideways (being supported by other people), ajeossis in the crowd were yelling at other old people who were being rude and pushing, and a man was spooning my back with his camera resting on my head (I seriously doubt this is ok in any country... hello, personal space?). Once the fireworks started, everyone settled down and we got to see an amazing show.
People as far as the eye can see

We then headed to a Mexican (yes, mexican!) food place called Hello Kimchi with Shelley's friends. Their friends were having an a capella group performance at the restaurant. I ordered a beef burrito, which turned out to be the size of my hand, and then ordered a tostada. Definitely wasn't too bad for Korean Mexican food, but it was no San Diego Mexican food. It was also exciting to have REAL cheese (hard to get a hold of here).

Someone at the restaurant had the cutest puppy!
The next day we met up with our friends Andre and Carel for some lunch. I got to experience my first Indian meal, which was delicious!
We then taxied back to Gwangali Beach to meet up with more people. We grabbed some makkoli (Korean rice wine), bought a blanket, and headed to the sand. We got there around 3:30pm and it wasn't too busy yet. After a few hours though, the majority of the sand could no longer be seen. People literally took up every inch of sand, even the spots so tiny we only joked that they would be taken. We also adopted a Korean family sitting next to us... or they adopted us. The mother could speak pretty decent English and the daughter was fascinated by us. The mother began to talk to us and soon offered us oranges and bread chips. A little while later, when Andre and Shelley attempted to lay down in our small spot, the ajummas who had shimmied their way into the small spot behind us offered their blankets and bags as pillows.
This isn't even the half of it...
New Korean family! 

Giant balls!
Ajummas giving pillows to Andre and Shelley
During our wait, there was a live show (which could be seen by large screens on the water), random girls (working for the festival) dancing in costumes in front of us, random ajummas dancing (not working for the festival), and large plastic balls being bounced around the audience. Finally, the show started at 8pm. It was worth the wait. This fireworks show was the largest, most incredible I have ever seen in my life. Millions of dollars were spent putting on this fireworks show and it showed.

This video is a little taste of what the fireworks were like... this wasn't even the finale.

And then on the way home, we couldn't find any tickets for the KTX so we took the other train home... standing only. The people who get standing tickets usually find somewhere else to sit, which was the diner cart for us. We squeezed our way in between some ajummas, ajeossis, and young girls. The old people attempted to talk to us in English (not really. a lot of hand gestures and broken konglish). One drunk old man in particular kept annoying us with the only words in English he knew: "Thank you" and "I love you." Maybe charming at first, but just wait half an hour and see how old that gets. He also apparently wanted our numbers according to his hand gestures. He eventually wrote down his own and gave it to Shelley. Sure, mister... she'll call right away. Any time we tried the ignore tactic, he would poke us. Poor Shelley got the majority of the finger abuse. This old couple behind us got a little fed up by this man's loud annoyingness and the husband yelled at him. The entire car was looking our way at one point. The annoying old man was quiet for a little but then went back to his ways. We guessed that the young girls knew at least a little English, as do most young people these days, so we wrote them a note asking them to tell the old man to stop yelling and poking us. They were nice enough to do it and the old man settled down. Our stop was a few minutes after that, so we ran off the train as fast as possible. I guess we learn from our mistakes!!

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