Thursday, July 17, 2008

The MUD Festival was indeed muddy, and was part of a long and crazy weekend. We left Busan early on Saturday morning, around 8am, and then drove over 4 hours to get to the Hite (beer) brewery in Jeonju. We went on a full bus of Busan foreigners, so there were over 40 people pre-partying at 9am on our bus! After a rather silly beer tour, since the plant was effectively closed down for the day, we got what we had come for: silly trinkets. Of course, there was the "as much beer as you can drink in 20 minutes" challenge first... which may have directly impacted the number of Hite-logo trinkets purchased. We got a nice bandanna and a bottle opener - not a bad deal for $2.50!
From there we went to Boryeong, which is a small mostly upscale "tourist ghetto" with endless hotels and restaurants. Everything is there for the Mud Fest, where millions of people turn up for days of mud fun, drinking, and beaching. After quickly checking in at our hotel - where we totally lucked out since we only had 3 people (ourselves and Blaise) while most rooms were jammed full with 5, we then headed out to the beach. The water was nice and warm, and the mud was gray and soothing. Everywhere people were covered with mud, and there were plenty of mud pits, slides, paintbrushes, and other ways to get muddy. A huge stage was setup with bands playing during the daytime, and all the corner stores were selling beer as frantically as they could. Saturday we meandered about the whole afternoon and evening, pausing for a bit to take in the spectacular fireworks display around 10pm, after which the whole Busan crew moved down to the beach. Good times were had, Blaise got soaked while watering the ocean, blah blah blah. Had a tasty dinner of oysters roasted over a fire, and then some late-night cappuccinos for, um, balance.
Sunday was a bit more low key, but still muddy and fun since we played with a beach ball down by the beach between swims. We also had a great sushi lunch, got some free mud soap, and got as muddy as we wanted to get :-)
This week at school's flown by, and this coming weekend (as in tomorrow night) we are taking an overnight bus on Friday to the far north-east corner of South Korea. We are meeting Sunny's family, and along with Nayoung and Blaise are going to go rafting near a gorgeous national park. We'll be staying at a nice condo thanks to Sunny, and we also have plans to go hiking in Seoraksan National Park and then hit up the east-coast beaches for a bit. So the two opposite coasts of Korea in 2 weekends: not too shabby.
We'll have a full report on rafting this next week, and then starting July 26 we have our much-anticipated summer vacation! Anderson's parents are coming from the US to visit us, so it should be a lot of fun to show them around our new home. We haven't seen them in about 2 years, so it will be nice to catch up, be Korean tourists, and eat lots of tasty food together. Plus, we don't get many vacation days with our job, so this one-week vacation is literally our longest of our entire 16 months in Korea.

That's that from B-Town
Come correct
A to da E

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Spy Vs. Spy party was a tremendous success! We raised over $1400 for charity, between raffle ticket sales, date auctions, games/t-shirt sales, and additional donations. With over 150 people in attendance, it was definitely a crazy party and people danced until past dawn! We're posting photos on our photo site right now, so you can check them out soon. It was a lot of hard work, literally weeks, but it was all well worth it when the party came together perfectly. We couldn't have pulled it off without a lot of help from our friends, Blaise and Nayoung in particular. The raffle went extremely well, with plenty of people buying additional raffle tickets beyond the $2 mandatory donation entry fee, and our friend and former coworker HaeJin won the grand prize of a one-night stay at the Westin Chosun Hotel at Haeundae Beach. We also had a lot of other great prizes, including Korean lessons, signed cartoon books, and food gift certificates. The date auction, a last-week addition, ended up being a great success as it raised well over $400 alone, with the bidding on several of our 10 volunteers being quite heated. All and all, definitely a legendary night, a great party, and a very successful fund raiser.
So that was last weekend, June 28, and the 29th was Anderson's 27th birthday. Sunday was rather low key by comparison obviously, but we did go out for an excellent Korean beef BBQ dinner with our local Yeonsan crew of friends.
The week of work flew by as quick as usual, although Tuesday night was "Canada Day" so went out to the weekly open mic night at The Basement, which was much busier than usual and a fun time, although our exhaustion on Wednesday made the day of work feel a bit rough!
This weekend was quite fun as well - Friday night was July 4, so Anderson's DJ gig was also a Mad Cow Party (due to the extreme Korean controversy involving American beef imports). Liz and Blaise won the Mad Cow Dance contest (prize: $50 bar tab), which was quite hilarious and fortunately recorded for posterity. It was definitely another late night, but a fun one for sure.
Saturday was a baby shower for our supervisor Rose, primarily planned by Liz although Chris nicely hosted it in her posh apartment :-). Baby showers are unheard of here in Korea, so all our female coworkers had a great time playing crazy games, eating tasty food, and having fun. In contrast, Anderson, Blaise, and Joe went to the Busan Ipark soccer game - which was also quite fun, perhaps in a more masculine sense though! We all met up afterwards in Kyungsung for a fun nightcap.
Today, Sunday, we went to Sung Ae Won Home for Children to drop off all the money we raised with Busan Assassin & Spy Vs. Spy. We had over $1500, so it felt great giving so much money to such a needy place. The orphanage is quite nice and very large. It currently houses 73 children all under the age of 5. So after meeting the owners, a nice couple, and their son and daughter-in-law, we then spent over 2 hours meeting and playing with all the orphans. It was tiring yet very fun, although filled with plenty of crying - especially when it was time to go. Afterwards the owners took us to a nice nearby Chinese restaurant (one of the orphanage's sponsors) for an interesting meal of cold peanut-sauce and seafood soup. It was an interesting flavor combination, but very good, as were the mandu that preceded it.
Next weekend is the Boryeong Mud Festival, which is sure to be a crazy good time! We also will get to tour the Hite brewery, so it'll be a good start to a long and dirty weekend of partying Korean-style :-).