Fireworks and Football
I realize I haven’t written about my awesome trip to Thailand to see Stephanie, but those photos are at home, and my students are taking standardized Korean tests all morning, so I’ve got a bit of free time. Sure, I’ve got some journals to mark, but that’s not nearly as fun.
We got into town around 1:30 and headed toward our Saturday destination: Gwangalli Beach, which was having a fireworks festival. After the longest cab ride I’ve ever had that didn’t begin with me taking the wrong bus to parts unknown, we arrived at a strip of sand which seemed to have been named “beach” by the same folks that have labeled every hill in Korea a “mountain”. At any rate, we were ready for lunch and could see the ocean, so some seafood seemed in order. I was cold, of course, so I wanted soup.
So, the local Nolbu Budaejjigae seemed a decent choice. I don’t eat spam, so budaejjigae wasn’t an option (to me, anyway, I think Craig was game). Fortunately, they had dak kalbi with seafood. Not soup, I know, but warm, delicious, and containing seafood, so it met our requirements. It turned out to be a great choice. There were mussels, shrimp, and baby octopi aplenty. I went for the first two and generously saved the cephalopods for Craig. I have agreed to try san nakji with him, but no need to rush things.
Well, that plus one more pitcher of beer. Yes, that’s two glasses you see. I helped Craig by having half a glass of beer. I live on the edge, I know. I hope he doesn’t think I’m a lush now… Being a more adventurous eater than I, Craig tried a bite of the dduk kalbi (my kids complain bitterly when they have to eat it at lunch, so I wasn’t too tempted, even with the honey mustard sauce). One bite was enough for him, and we picked at the fries until they were nearly refrozen in the night air. We ended up leaving the soju in our yogwan fridge– something to help the next occupants overlook the standard of housekeeping. The Pepsi and Cider we left behind, because who would even drink that for free?
After a couple of hours, it was time for the main event: fireworks. By this time, the beach, the road, and the sidewalk had been filled to capacity to the point that the entire waitstaff was standing guard pushing the rabble out of the roped off area. Meanwhile, we sat in comfort (I was even lent a blanket by the bar).
After a pitcher or so of Korea’s finest ale, I don’t think Craig was feeling the cold as much as I was.
The fireworks were launched from barges literally right off the coast, probably less that 100 yards or so from the beach. They were also launched quite low, so most of them seemed to be right over our heads. We had planned to meet another group of people, but at the last minute, they decided to watch the show from Haeundae Beach. I haven’t had a chance to confirm my suspicions that the fireworks were not nearly so spectacular from even that short distance.
It’s kind of dark, but you can see the ropes the hoi polloi are jammed up against, as well as how low the fireworks were. From my seat, I missed some of them completely, because they were aimed to line up under the bridge right off the coast.
The grand finale seemed a little like someone had a look at their watch and realized they had run over time. All in all a good show and a good time was had by all, or at least the two of us, with chairs, food and drink, room to breathe, and a blanket. 🙂
Since the World Cup and the many new facilities built for it, the host cities mostly have at least two soccer stadiums (stadia?) now. We had a bit of luck and arrived at the correct one on the first try. Upon arrival, we were offered free tickets. After seeing Seongnam for free earlier in the week, I was feeling a bit spoiled and happy to be a foreigner.