This last weekend was a tag team of Korean holidays. "Watcha gonna do when Children's Day and Buddha's Birthday run wild on you??!!" Okay, so they're not the toughest sounding holidays out there; they don't have a thing on Halloween and Independence Day. Still I'm always up for a day off and getting paid for it so I celebrated Children's Day with glee. On Children's Day it's customorary to throw old fruit, especially tomatoes at children. It's a Korean tradition. (Only the folks in the states will fall for that one.)
In the true spirit of Children's Day, I made a pilgrimage to the sea with three girls, where I sat on the beach, drank a bunch of soju and shot off fireworks. I did it all for the children. Actually, coworkers and friends Amanda, Kerry and Sarah planned the trip and asked if I wanted to tag along. Drinking beer on the beach with girls, let me think about that one. Surprisingly I was a perfect gentleman, or not so surprisingly for those of you who know me. I did learn a tremendous amount about girls though. I learned about issues concerning plumbing (the anatomical kind), relationships and makeup tones. However the girls swilled beer, shot off fireworks and braved ocean currents that didn't even think of entering.
The first night we stayed in a rather shady hotel. They have these hotels in Korea called love hotels, named this because they are available for the hour or the night. It's always difficult to tell which hotels are love hotels. You never really know until nighttime, when all the red lights come on and the calling cards for all the call girls are taped to the walls and the stairs of the establishment. My school actually put me up in a love hotel for my first week here. I'd never have known except for the kinky red lighting on the ceiling and the videos of porn down the hall. Other than that, it was one of the nicest places I had ever stayed in.
So yes, we checked into a love hotel and I looked like the Mac walking in with three girls. We devoted the first night to shooting off fireworks and sitting on the beach. The next day we woke up to worst rainstorm I've seen since I've been here. We switched hotels, bought a bunch of umbrellas, and took pictures of Amanda jumping into the sea as she was the only one brave enough to do so. That night was eaten up by bar hopping (okay, we only hopped to one bar) followed by some of the worst dancing known-to-man provide by Kerry and I.
The next day was substantially nicer. We laid on the beach and I watched the surfers. They have surfing in Busan! I dream of surfing and it's here in Korea! Granted, the waves are dodgy and inconsistent but it's better than nothing. At one point I looked at the girls and asked, "Why am I in Seoul?" Sadly, I could not locate a shop that rented boards.
While we were lying on the beach, holiday festivities started up at the Busan Aquarium. A camera crew set up pretty close to where we were camped out and, what I can only imagine was a Korean superstar began to slowly pace the beach in dramatic fashion while the cameras panned him. By this time a small crowd of Koreans, mainly giggling teenage girls, had surrounded the film crew and us. I figured this guy must be special so I snapped a few shots of him and then horror of horrors; he walked right up to us. He shook our hands, introduced himself (his name apparently was Boom-shake-shake-shake-da-boom) and then asked us a few standard questions. Sadly, I don't think we were TV material. A combination of shy and hung-over doesn’t really make for the most dynamic TV personality. The real kicker is if I'm on TV I'll never know. I never watch the Korean channels. It'll be some ungrateful Korean who will see me and go, "Who the hell is that white boy?" On a side note most of my students know who Mr. Boom is.
After our brief brush with fame we visited the aquarium and stared at the fish, a standard aquarium activity. That night was devoted to a short nighttime cruise around Busan and an early bedtime. We had to be well rested to miss our train the next day. All combined we were on the train for three hours and in cabs for two and a half hours. I was not in the best mood to teach that day. However, all was well just knowing that I had celebrated the Buddha's birthday, even if it was in a slightly less than Buddhist fashion.