Monday, July 16, 2012

Boryeong Mudfest

This weekend I went to the Boryeong Mud Festival, or as I have chosen to affectionately call it, the Dirty Foreigner Mud Convention (I mean dirty mostly literally...just a tad bit figuratively). While Koreans do attend, Mudfest is a huge hit with the expat community, it was by far the most English speaking people I've seen in one place since I've been here. What attracts throngs of weary foreigner teachers to this sleepy seaside town? I don't know, must be something in the mud...

It's so popular even Spidey and Batman came out for the occasion! I realize I look clean but that's only because I had to wash off after some random American dude got a little over zealous when he decided to rub his muddy hands on my face. Clearly I accidentally stepped into the line of fire. The before picture:

Some other members of the infamous Yeoju Crew!
If there was a "Creatures of the Deep" look-a-like contest I definitely would have won. Although I got covered, there was a surprising lack of mud slinging (the literal kind). I expected to see giant mosh-pit like trenches filled with a nice dirt, water, and foreigner mixture, but in typical, somewhat organized Korean fashion, there were just cute, brightly colored basins containing mud and brushes so you could gently paint yourself.

Not quite what I had in mind but it got the job done. According to Wikipedia (the source of all that is right and true) the festival began because of a cosmetics company trying to promote their mud products. While I did see such products being sold, I believe the festival has largely been endorsed by the Boryeong government to promote tourism, as this is really the only time people visit the town. Most of the restaurants were painfully unequipped to deal with the crowds. Foreigners be warned: finding breakfast in Boryeong will be a painful, fruitless, and heartbreaking journey.

The muddy sea of foreigners.
I certainly had a good time, but it takes some liquid courage to enjoy the mud and other activities without thinking about the questionably sanitary conditions (never fear, liquid courage is a bountiful commodity at Mudfest). Here's great photo I took from the top of one of the main buildings where you can see all of the bouncy castle type attractions they set up:

That's only a small portion of it, but you get the idea. There was no shortage of greasy street food and cheep beer tents. You can also see the mud slide and obstacle courses (ouch is right). Oh, and the one sad lonely "mud pit" where people were just kind of flailing around:

They also had colored mud body painting and a "Mud Prison"... yes, there are individuals who put themselves in this cage so someone could just throw mud at them...whatever you're into ya know? No judgement.

Those guys on top are the Mudfest mascots. You can see them on fixtures all over the town. It must be a very strange place to be the other 50 weeks of the year (the festival lasts two weeks) when there are virtually no tourists. Case in point, the clouds do not flatter this square filled with weird ice cream themed sculptures like this one:

I knew I had wandered too far searching for breakfast when I found this guy. I don't mean to give Mudfest a bad rap, it was definitely fun, but after 12 hours of muddy debauchery you'll probably find yourself wanting to go home and take a nice nap/ shower. Parts of the beach are nice, but I could see why it's not a Korean hot spot. On the bright side, the mud did make my skin feel nice and soft!

And of course, the cute news never ends. This guy was chillin' outside our hostel:

I need to carry this picture in my pocket . Who could say no to that face? Nope, not me.

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