Two weeks ago, my friends and I did probably the most fun thing I’ve done since I arrived in Korea 10 months ago (I know, I can’t believe it’s been that long , either!). We got down and dirty at the Boryeong Mud Festival. This was something that I’d read about before I left the states, and was definitely on my bucket list of things I wanted to do while I was here. It takes place once a year in the Daecheon beach area and people come from all over Korea to get muddy. They ship the mud in from the Boryeong mud flats and hose you down with it when you get there. No, seriously. I was hosed down with mud. More than once. The mud is supposedly very good for your skin and used to manufacture cosmetics. It does not, however, work as a sunscreen. Trust me. As a marketing tool, they developed the festival in 1998 and it now draws around 2.2 million visitors each year. It takes place over the course of 2 weeks, and we went on opening weekend. We showed up bright and early on Saturday because our train options were limited. I was told by veterans that this was a rookie mistake, but we were the ones laughing when they showed up in the afternoon and tickets were already sold out. When we got there, we were immediately sent to mud prison because we were too clean. In mud prison, they hose you down with mud until you are an acceptable amount of dirty. From there, we went to the inflatable slides where, once I reached the top, I managed to knock down the employee hosing down the slide. I’m quite graceful. Then we went mud wrestling, which was SO MUCH FUN!!! We went through an inflatable obstacle course called “The Mud of Many Hardships.” God, I love Konglish. Let me tell you, you have no idea how hard it is to make your way through an inflatable obstacle course while covered in mud. They let you go four at a time, and I was the last person from my group out. I got stuck in the hole you had to jump through and by the end, I couldn’t even be bothered to try standing up anymore. I lied on my back and pushed my way out with my feet. I must have looked pretty ridiculous because Joe was doubled over laughing when I came out. But hey, I made it out alive, and that’s all that counts. Then we went to a game called “Mud Love Love” which is, incidentally, what I named the stuffed animal of the girl Mudfest mascot I purchased. In Mud Love Love, you and your teammate get velcroed to bungees cords on opposite ends of the inflatable pad, and you have to be the first team to meet in the middle, hug and ring the bell above your head. My teammate and I totally won. I had to, I was sucking it up at everything else.
They have 2 sessions each day – morning and afternoon. We’re not entirely sure what they do during their break, but we did not appreciate having to vacate the premises for an hour and a half. We used that time to swim in the ocean. And by ocean, I mean the Yellow Sea. Yup, I’ve been there. I was super proud of myself because I went in the ocean past my knees, which is usually reserved for Hawaii. I have an irrational fear of sharks. Like, I don’t even like to get in a swimming pool at night because someone may have slipped a shark in there while I wasn’t looking. The water in Hawaii is so clear, though, that I’m sure I could see one coming for me and for some reason, that makes me feel better about it. I told you it was irrational. Anywho, we did a little swimming after both the morning and the afternoon sessions. Then we made our way back to our hotel to get ready for the evening. We broke up into two groups for dinner. My group went to a samgyeopsal restaurant, and I’d been wanting to try samgyeopsal. It is thick, fatty slices of pork belly, similar to uncured bacon. You cook it over a grill at your table and eat it on a piece of lettuce with garlic and gochuchang (red pepper paste – totally delicious). It did not disappoint. It was a-mazing. Then we met up with our other friends and my college buddy, Xander, for a little noreabang. For those of you not yet in the know about noreabang, it is basically karaoke but in a private room with just your friends, which makes it infinitely more awesome. I may or may not have killed Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It.” You can expect my demo early next year.
The next day, most of the group decided to head out early. But Joe and I chose to stick with our original tickets and met up with Xander and some of his friends. We hung out on the beach, where I got a killer sunburn in only a couple of overcast hours. Then we headed to a chicken and pizza place called Dasarang for lunch. Koreans LOVE their chicken and pizza. Dasarang has pretty good pizza, but their chicken is only mediocre. Fortunately, the company made up for the crap chicken. After lunch, we had a little time to kill before heading to the train station, so we joined Xander and his friends for some drinks. We finally headed home, and I have never been so happy to take a shower and do my laundry. Twice.