Boryeong Mudfest: Let’s get muddy!

“Mud is not one of the 4 food groups.”

– Nancy Cartwright

They arrive from trains, from planes, from automobiles. They come from international destinations and every corner of the South Korean peninsula. They arrive by the busload, and they fill every hostel and floor space available in the sleepy beachside town of Daechon. The wind is bending the trees and it’s the middle of monsoon season so guess what – the rain is pounding the concrete so hard that it’s impossible to tell whether it’s raining harder from the sky or the pavement – and it is under these conditions that the idiots in their swimming trunks make their way to the mud baths. They’re carrying nothing but waterproof cameras and bottles of soju, sporting flip-flops and cans of Cass.

Yes, this is the Boreyong Mud Festival, the famous event held once-yearly at Daechon beach on the west cost of South Korea. Not to be missed!

First order of business: find a mud bath. Success! Three feet deep, sloshy, muddy, bubbly, grey. It was our first mud encounter of the day… and within seconds, from head to toe we were covered. There was mud in our ears, under our fingernails, between our toes. There was mud stuck in my teeth. Not one of the four food groups, you say, Ms Cartwright? Are you sure? ; ) Oh, and a warning to contact-lens wearers: there was a substantial amount of mud lodged under my contacts. Eep!

After fixing my contact problem by pouring water in my eyes for the next, oh, twenty minutes or so, and subsequently posing for about thirty-four thousand photographs (does this surprise you? it shouldn’t. we’re kind of a big deal.), it was time for a mudslide. Not the cocktail, though I daresay that would have been a delicious addition.

As the rain started to subside we tackled “an obstacle of hardship”, which was actually a very large inflatable obstacle course where we raced through holes, pulled ourselves on our stomachs through a tunnel of inflatable stalactites and stalagmites, waded through a mud lake, and crawled on our hands and knees to the finish-line and fell, oh-so-gracefully, onto our heads in front of a huge crowd of muddy spectators.

After the hardships came the mudfight, where we flung thick, dark mud at each other and subsequently rubbed it all over ourselves. And just like that, we had morphed into an army of muddy grey aliens.

And I daresay we have never looked better.

“Mud-pies gratify one of our first and best instincts. So long as we are dirty, we are pure.” – Charles Dudley Warner

After a few trips to rinse off in the ocean, we made a trip to the Family Mart to replenish and refuel. Now, I could attempt to explain this, but to be honest, I don’t have the kind of words to describe the ridiculousness of the Family Mart scene. I’m not even sure there are enough adjectives in the English language to correctly portray the insanity of the mass congregation of muddy foreigners on this poor little convenience store in this remote village in this obscure corner of South Korea. Although I was there for nearly an hour, standing in line, I can only possibly do the scene any sort of justice through pictures.
Right? Pleasant, yes? : )

Replenished and refueled; it was time for coloured mud. With giant brushes we painted each other red, blue, yellow, green.How very stylish.

The night that followed was a veritable orgy of bright lights, fried street food (including the splendid french-fry-covered-corn-dog),

fireworks, and late night swims. We also rented scooters. Or were they segways? Engine-powered tricycles? Three-wheeled-segway-scooters? You be the judge.

They were awesome. So were the fireworks.The rain held off and Sunday was both sunny and gorgeous. Not to mention hot.

For a country so open to getting naked with strangers in jimjilbangs, they sure do like to cover up when they swim. Jeans in the water? Don’t mind if I do!

And what is this? A human hamster ball?

Mudfest, you are fun. I’d do you again and again.

And again. ; )