Chapter 1: A Killer Meal
I recently traveled to the beautiful island of Namhae in South Korea for one weekend. This island is known for its beautiful rice terraces, beaches, and garlic.
I got the pleasure of being there during the beef and garlic festival. The bus ride was about five hours featuring extremely curvy paths around the island, giving almost the entire bus of people car sickness. But once we arrived it was worth it and beautiful until I ate food. This begins the story of the most physically uncomfortable weekend of my life.
Like most physically uncomfortable things—blind dates ending in sex, meeting your extended family at Thanksgiving, or swimming too soon after eating—it began with a meal. It was a simple dish—vegetable bibimbap. It was very good as well, but 30 minutes while walking up the unkindly steep incline of the rice terraces—the cramps began.
It was like a scene from a movie, if the main character had IBS and was dying while Korean children, or possibly full-grown men, laughed. So maybe like an underdog movie. When I finally made it to the top of the rice terraces the view was amazing. The view of the bathroom of course. But being a traditional Korea bathroom (See posts about toilets), I had to try to predict how much toilet paper I would need before going in. So just to be safe I just grabbed as much as I could carry and that was that.
Then we were off to the beef and garlic festival. But, now I knew I couldn’t eat anything so I found a good spot to sit to watch the performances. Which takes us to chapter 2.
Chapter 2: Chairs Equal Power
Now I don’t speak Korean, but I swear for about 1 hour I was watching a Korean wedding on stage, based on the attire. But my friend claimed it was an award ceremony. We were just about to give up and move on to another sitting based activity when we heard a marching band approaching.
We decided to stay. And after a minute we catch a glimpse of the band coming. Three of them were in long white coats and the rest were in a white marching band uniforms. Some of them were wearing wigs and some were wearing straw hats with flowers. And trailing behind was one man with a fake afro on a tricycle with speakers attached. All I could think of the flyer for Sound Guy Needed for Traveling Band, must be able to ride a bike while dancing and have a face lift for an afro. I can’t imagine they had many volunteers. They played for about 20 minutes, and maybe played is the wrong word because they were really jamming like a less smooth Kenny G. After they finished they only member to win everyone’s hearts was the Sound Guy on the bike. Yet another reason this weekend goes to the underdog.
When the performance was over people started to leave, the real battle began. To the Korean elderly, chairs equal power. A chair would be open for two minutes tops before being snatched by an elderly woman or man. Even chair hoarding started to begin and women were using purses and arms to hold multiple chairs. They started swatting people’s hands faster than Melania Trump when they asked for the chair.
After a while we viewed the chairs as sick antelope in wild, watching them being devoured by the lion grandpas.
Then the chairs started to settle for the next event.
Chapter 3: The Beauty Pageant (Must be over 65 to compete)
The stage slowly filled with ten elderly women dressed very elaborately. They walked on in a cute way. One even had her grandson pretend to be her bodyguard. (I hope she won.)
After introducing themselves to the crowd by screaming in the microphone. Like screaming so loud they wouldn’t actually need a microphone. Then they had a costume change for the talent portion, which was a dance. For some reason they were asked to paint a picture of a cow. One turned out looking like Courage the Cowardly Dog.
After that, they actually had a screaming competition. And I guess whoever screamed the loudest got more points? I don’t know what they were saying but apparently some were very funny.
At this point we had to get on the bus to return to our hotel and they were about to start the singing portion so I will never knew who won. 3 hours wasted.
Which brings us to day 2 on Namhae Island.
Chapter 4: Sunrise without a Sun
The day started like any other. I woke up at 3am to do a sunrise hike (but mostly pee). That’s where it all went wrong. Nothing good ever happens in the bathroom after 2am. As I turned to grab some TP, I felt two pops in my neck and that was it. I couldn’t look right for the rest of the day.
I still went on the sunrise hike because I thought that would make me feel better emotionally. So I set out, in the rain, to watch a sunrise.
After about 20 minutes walking, I reached the beautiful Buddhist temple dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy and prayed for her to give me some. We watched what I hoped was the sunrise because I could only see the fog getting brighter and hearing birds chirping, but I’m sure it was the sun.
The group finally gave up on the sun so we could go back to bed.
The Final Chapter: the Left Side of the Beach
After a great nap, I attempted to change into my bathing suit for the beach, with the help of my friend.
We laid on on the beach. Well, my friend laid on the beach, I tried but just as I would get my head on the ground I realized I forgot to do/get something.
I was the most uncomfortable time at the beach ever until I went to the bathroom and saw a woman cleaning her pants, and I was suddenly thankful.