What better way to beat the summer heat than to have a Water Festival?
Thanks to Pedro for telling me about it in the first place. I was itching to go somewhere or do something picture-worthy.
I don’t mind writing random vignettes about every day life (so long as I can twist it into something interesting) but I miss having pictures to sort through and upload.
On Saturday, I dress in my bathing suit, which I then cover up with a shirt and shorts. Since I’ll be taking my camera with me, I don’t expect I’ll be able to get very wet (a bummer) but I don’t mind too much. Pictures trump almost all in my book.
It’s cloudy when I go outside and I wonder if they picked the wrong day for a water fight.
The festival is close. Just a ten minute walk to one of the main streets downtown. The whole street has been blocked off. Little blue tents line the road with selling drinks and street food. Some of them are setting up games.
I get there before it officially begins. A long line of people crowd around the tables selling cheap plastic water guns. Volunteers are still getting their areas ready.
A stage halfway down the road starts blaring music. Two big trucks with tanks on them, spill water onto the street as they crawl by. On the far end, I can see a big blow-up slide and pools for smaller kids.
The festival starts slowly, with people trickling in and joining the masses with water guns. There seems to be no form or planning to it. They just run around squirting anyone they see and then going back to the water trucks to refill.
The water-gun-toting crowd mostly stays near the stage where groups of young men and women dance and gyrate, in true K-pop style, to music that blares so loudly through the speakers I can feel through the ground, all while being sprayed with hoses from the water trucks.
A pair of somber looking clowns lumber around on giant feet, twisting balloons up for kids, seeming rather out-of-place.
I stop to observe a game of rock-paper-scissors-loser-gets-a-face-full-of-water. Pretty self-explanatory, I think.
Another water-in-the-face game is the classic one where you pose behind a picture with a hole cut-out for your face, and people try to hit you with water balloons.
A makeshift slip-n-slide/human bowling looks fun, though quite soapy. It’s popular with the kids.
I meet a few people I know but don’t talk for long; they are too busy chasing and being chased. I walk up and down the street snapping as many pictures of people as I can, but without much planning or thought behind it. Form? Composition? Other photography terms I don’t know? All I can think about is trying to capture moments as they happen and hope that some of them come out looking cool.
Gang up on the foreigner!
Though the water festival could be described, at its simplest, as a water (gun) fight, the variety of ways people approached this concept, was interesting. Let me list some of them for you. Take note of them, as you may want these tips for your own future water fights.
Ways to enjoy a water fight on a sunny day:
In a “cute” style
The “I want to play in the water and stay dry” style
Under an umbrella
In a Taekwondo uniform
in boots and a matching helmet.
Wearing a shiny mask so people can target you more easily
Wearing PSY’s face
Watching other people’s kids
Being carried around like royalty….above the masses
If participating in water games doesn’t seem like fun to you (ahem…crazy..cough), you can always take the route these guys took and watch from a safe distance.
…Though I don’t think these guys really had a choice.
remote control drone with a camera
I take a break to eat lunch at my favorite kimbap restaurant.
“Kimchi Kimbap?” the woman asks me. I usually come here after Korean class to grab some to go. I’m practically a regular.
But I shake my head and babble some Korean words to go with the gesture, then I take a seat. At 2:30, I’m their only customer at the moment.
I’m a little sad actually. The food is good of course but part of why I loved this place was because of the ajumma who worked here. She could prepare, roll, and cut the Kimchi Kimbap faster than I could find my wallet in my all purpose purse/bag. Her efficiency and speed were a work of art. Maybe she quit or maybe she’s on vacation but I haven’t seen her for two weeks now. One of the women is fairly good at it’s nothing compared to the other ajumma. They hired a new woman and she makes kimbap like it is the art: laying down everything with great precision but no speed whatsoever.
Still, I like the place. I eat soup with mandu (pot stickers/dumplings) in it, then go back to the festival.
One enterprising man waves me over to his tent where he tries to sell me a cup of something to drink from his various opened bottles of juice and soda. I insist I don’t really need anything but he won’t take no for an answer. I cave and buy water. I walk away more amused than annoyed.
I can tell it’s winding down when the water trucks stop misting and I can get near enough to the stage and the people dancing on the street to see more than their bobbing heads. It never got as busy as I thought it would and there were always parts of the street that felt rather empty. Still, people continue to play.
Someone comments that I’m rather brave to be running around in the thick of the water gun battles with my camera in hand. I’ve been careful so far and now that the crowd has thinned, I’m less nervous that I’ll be hit accidentally. I’ve been targeted a few times: always by people kind enough to avoid my camera but not gutsy enough to do more than to give my shirt a few sprays. I wouldn’t have minded, nay, would have welcomed a bucket of water poured over my head as long as my camera was out of the way.
I run into one of my church friends. He’s completely soaked and out of energy. He moans about his bedraggled state and wonders how he’ll get home, and realize how lucky I am that I live so close. If I’d gotten wet, I could have just walked home and dealt with it there. How will others, who live further away, manage?
“See you tomorrow,” he says. It’s casual but a small token of the community I feel – even though I don’t tell him I likely won’t be in church the next day – that there are people outside my job who expect to see me regularly and will notice if I’m not there.
I decide to call it quits when a spray of water hits my camera square on the lens.
Forgotten and abandoned water balloons find solace in each other.