I hadn’t planned on going to the Jinju Lantern Festival. Actually, I had planned on going camping a couple of weeks ago. But when a friend of mine told me she was thinking of going to the festival, I hopped on the bus and signed up.
Life is more fun when you say “yes” to the unplanned anyways.
This past weekend was another holiday in Korea. I had Friday and Monday off, which of course I knew I had to utilize to my advantage. So on Thursday night, I hopped on a bus to Jinju.
There are so many tour groups in Korea and I want to try all of them. This particular tour group was Seoul Hiking. They are super laid back and run by an enthusiastic guy named Warren. Honestly, he’s more like a tourist than a tour guide which is quite interesting. He’s amazed at all of the events just as much as us foreigners.
We arrived at Jinju Island around 6 in the morning. Tired and exhausted, Warren told us to step off the bus. Nobody really knew what was happening or where we were, but we explored anyways.
I also walked around a bit and found this incredible view of the ocean. I mean, it was absolutely stunning because I literally had no idea where I was. One moment I was looking at the trees, and the next . . . BAM! The ocean in a foggy splendor.
There was also an empty amusement park that reeked of creepiness. Seriously. It was kind of cool exploring it though.
Afterwards, we headed to the festival grounds. I was originally going to go hiking with some people, but got sidetracked and had coffee with some others instead. Everyone was so tired that the majority of everyone went to a jinjibang and slept.
I eventually split off from the coffee group and tried to find my friends. I got SO lost. But I kept telling myself to just enjoy the scenery. I even stopped inside the Silk Festival.
When I made it to my friends, the party had already started. There were lots of vendors and concerts. I also ran into the K Drama Festival! There were some pretty famous K Drama stars on the red carpet, which was super fun to watch. Everyone kept screaming and one girl even cried. I just wanted to see if my favorite Korean actor was going to show up. Sadly, he was a no show.
After yelling at Korean celebrities, we walked around the festival more and ate lots of street food and saw lots of sights. I have had so many different types of food here. Usually, I don’t even know what I’m eating. I just eat.
The lanterns were beautiful. But also . . . there were SO many people. I probably stepped on so many people’s shoes.
The fireworks at the festival were especially beautiful. I was floored by it all. I had a perfect view, and it seemed like the fireworks were right on top of us.
After the fireworks, we walked around the lanterns a bit more and ended up in a museum. It was nothing special, but I will never forget the smell. Everyone and their mama used that museum bathroom and you could smell it throughout the ENTIRE museum.
We also saw a small part of a play (that was in Korean) before going back to the bus and driving to Namhae.
I slept so well that night. And in the morning, we had a small breakfast before heading off the beach right next to the pension we slept in. The weather was too perfect.
There was no time for swimming, as a few of us headed to the next festival — Oktoberfest.
Did you know there is a German village in Korea? Because I had NO IDEA. It’s so incredibly beautiful and random and just so very Korean. I had no expectations before I came to Korea so everything is surprising to me. But a German village? Yeah. Maybe a little too surprising.
There wasn’t too much going on at Oktoberfest except for a few random activities thrown in here and there. Also, the food was WAY expensive. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a German bakery, which is what I was really craving. We did however run into a parade.
Later on in the day, we found a spot in the very front. If you want to get on TV in Korea there are 3 things you need to do:
- Be foreign
- Sit in the front or near the front
It was so funny to me that they put so many foreigners on the Oktoberfest screen. Of course, we were also probably one of the only ones dancing.
During the salsa dancing, the perfect weather turned into crazy and it started pouring rain. I went underneath a table for cover and others followed.
When the rain started to slow down, there was also an Austrian performance, K-Pop performance by some random group and a DJ. I danced only for a bit as I was tired from all the other events. At one point, I even went off by myself and walked around the village. It was nice and calm compared to all the festivities.
The last day of the trip was surprisingly amazing. We started it by going on a sunrise hike, though we actually missed the sunrise. I cannot believe how many mountains I have climbed here. I had no idea I liked hiking so much!
After hiking, about half of our group went sea kayaking. It was my first time kayaking on the ocean and I have got to say that the waves made it pretty hard. Towards the end, I kept thinking we were getting closer to shore only to realize we had a long way to go. My kayak partner was the best though, and we screamed out Disney songs during our kayaking. The water was also super warm and most everyone went swimming. Sadly, I have no pictures from the kayaking but trust me . . . it was great.
We ate a little bit of lunch afterwards before heading back to Seoul. I didn’t make it in time for my bus and stayed the night at a friend’s apartment.
The next morning, I woke up bright and early to head back to Daebu. It took forever and a day. I must’ve looked crazy wearing my dirty clothes from the night before with unbrushed hair. But when I finally made it home, I wanted to kiss my beautiful bed. You better believe I took a nap.
Around noon, I met up with a girl who also lives on the island and she showed me the sights. I had no idea the island was so beautiful! And to think I am only living about 10 minutes away from all this! What a great metaphor for life. We think we know everything but the instant we step outside of the box, we can see that there is so much more!
After walking for a bit, I went back to my room and pretty much just chilled the entire rest of the day. I have been going and going since I got to Korea. It’s been difficult for me to find a moment to rest because I just want to do ALL of the things. However, I think I’m going to start taking it slower these months, especially since it’s getting colder.
I don’t know how, but Korea just got really cold all of a sudden. And if it’s only October, I don’t even want to think about January.
Lord, help me.