Monday, July 4, 2011

It's Not Goodbye...It's See You Later

This past weekend I traveled with nine others in search of the best beach weekend/send-off party.  Or, in other words, we launched a Gwangju siege of Busan and showed it a good time.

Rolling out of bed early requires willpower and good, strong coffee.  A shower, a city bus ride, two bagels and a cafe mocha later, I was on the comfortable express bus bound for the second largest city in Korea.  The weather was sunny with a slight hint of humidity, and we all secretly hoped it wouldn't rain when we arrived at the beach. The 3-hour bus ride was quiet, save for the hum of the on-board television and the sounds of the bus driving along, mostly due to the early hour and night-after hangovers of some.

Once in Busan we headed for Haeundae, the most popular beach, in search of accommodations and food.  What we hoped would be a quick stop for some Mexican turned into an hour and a half wait for said food.  With only one person preparing the food, and three people just staring, I think some of us regretted the decision to choose that place for lunch.  At least, my hungry stomach did by the end of it all.

Finally sated with food, we found a nearby love motel in which to dump our things and change for the beach.  This was not your ordinary love motel, however.  The Sugar Motel boasted some pretty rad features and decor:  our room had zebra-print wallpaper and a huge whirlpool tub, which sadly was never tested during our weekend stay.

Onward to the beach!  We found the rest of our group lounging in the late afternoon sun amid hundreds of other Koreans and foreigners.  The water was bitterly cold, and not inviting enough for a full-body dip.  Instead, I chose to walk along the edge where I was safe from the crashing waves.  Later, I showed how much of an athlete I'm not trying to hit a volleyball around with a few friends.  I did feel the burn later from that little display of sportsmanship, however, so it was not a total loss.

When the sunlight began to fade, we headed back to the motel to shower and ready ourselves for the evening's festivities.  Dinner was a yummy sandwich at Breeze Burns, but the service there left something to be desired as well.  (This was rectified by our much more helpful waiter the next morning during brunch.)

After pre-drinking in the motel for a little while, we headed down to Rock & Roll right on the beach for some bar drinking and beer pong.  This became the spot for several hours as many photos were taken, drinks were had, dancing ensued, a black marker left its mark on all the party-goers, and conversations were had.  Not that most of this would be remembered in the morning without the aid of photographic evidence and piecing together fragments from everyone's memories.

The final stop for the evening for most of us was the beach.  A few Americans were lighting off fireworks in early celebration for July 4th as a Korean lifeguard blew his whistle in vain, then stood glaring at them.

The sun had risen when we concluded that the party was a success and headed back to the motel for some sleep.  A quick stop by Lotteria yielded only shrimp or bulgogi burgers instead of the full menu, and what some considered odd for a 24 hour restaurant.

I had never been so happy to see a bed as I was on Sunday morning.  I hastily brushed my teeth and washed my face before slipping under the covers.  Apparently I am a bed-hog, but a situation easily remedied by pushing me over, though.  In my defense, I tend to like to sleep in the middle of the bed, regardless if I'm alone or not.

The reward for a hard-fought weekend?  Brunch back at Breeze Burns.  I had two wishes for that brunch:  more food for the price, and more sugar for the coffee.  In a pinch it did well, though I much prefer the brunch at the First Alleyway on Sundays.

Back to the subway and the bus terminal we headed, much more silent than our arrival a day earlier.  It was good fortune that a bus to Gwangju was leaving soon, and we wouldn't have to wait long in our tired and painful states.  (I was happy to be feeling fine in the morning with no adverse effects!)  I know I crashed on the bus, and again once I arrived home in my apartment.  Having a fun-filled weekend with awesome people requires a ton of energy.  And we get to do it all again in two weeks.  Destination:  Mud Festival in Boryeong!

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