September 1, 2008
We have always been intrigued by this, and have finally taken part of the festivities; for every Saturday and Sunday that we have been here, the street between Bucheon City Hall and Jung-ang Park (Central Park) has been blocked off to public traffic, and some sort of mini-celebrations take place. We’re never sure of the cause for these festivities, but we’ve always been thankful for them; the streets are easier to cross without cars getting in the way, and a lot of food stands open up right beside our house. What’s most interesting about these festivities, though, is that, in the place of grown-up cars, little kid cars flood the streets. Shops that are open only on these weekends open their doors and rent out their minicars. This weekend we finally rented a couple of these cars, and zipped around like it was nobody’s business.
The cost of renting these cars isn’t all too cheap, though. Ten bucks will get you half an hour. They take down your name and number, you pay them up front, and then they tell you how to ride; you accelerate by pushing the button below your right handbrake (which doesn’t brake anything), and you brake by using the left handbrake. Watch out for the little kids, though. They have their own slow-moving cars, and they never check their blind spots before changing lanes/swerving all over the road. As well, you’re limited to driving on the streets only, which is a little upsetting, because we wanted to drive through Jung-ang Park as well. By the time they told us this we had already paid, and didn’t want to ask for our money back, even though we were disappointed. But still, zipping around in these cars was a whole load of fun. Finally, when your half hour is up and you bring back your car you get a free can of soda. So cool! Unfortunately, Simon got a can of Pocari Sweat, which is another drink we should have put on the “Odd Korean Drinks” post. It’s like Gatorade, except saltier, and so it was really, really, gross. Anyhow, we made a video of us on these cars, so click on the picture above to see it, or watch our video on the Streets of Bucheon, Korea here.
But that’s not all! We’ve got more to tell. What doesn’t happen every weekend, but just this weekend for some reason, is the full-stage setup in the streets. When we first walked onto the streets there was Karaoke going on, as someone was singing Muse’s “Starlight,” which is massively popular here (it was sung a few more times during this event). A small crowd gathered in front of the stage to watch the performers. We think this might have been a high-school talent show of some sorts, because everyone on stage was pretty young. The stage wasn’t limited to singing, though, because dance-crews were on stage showing their stuff as well. It started early on in the day and went well on into the night. We caught some of it on video, so click on this picture or here for our video on Bucheon’s Public Karaoke.
But wait! There’s still more! In front of the stage were very many stalls set up. In one of them was a public face-painting. In another, you could get your face on a 10,000 won bill. In a third you could get balloons! Martina loves balloons! When we came up to the balloon stall, some funny things happened. For some reason, the people running the stall were tying as many balloons as they possibly could to plastic lawn chairs. Again, we weren’t sure why they were doing this, but by the time we got there five or six chairs had at least 40 balloons on them. What makes this so silly is that the person responsible for tying the balloons would try putting on around 20 balloons at once, instead of one at a time. And so, there were a couple of times that he slipped up, lost his grip, and sent swarms of balloons into the open skies of Bucheon, Korea. When this happened everyone around the stall would hoot and holler. We were more interested in taking pictures of the event, though, and so Martina took a bunch of really pretty shots.