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Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Day at Haeundae (Daeboreum Festival)

Haeundae (海云台) is the most famous beach in Korea. It's also the title of the Korean disaster movie last year which showed in Malaysian cinemas under the name "Tsunami". In the movie, a tsunami came from the East Sea and wrecked the entire Haeundae area, which other than the beach, also consists of hotels and skyscrapers and old winding streets with eateries.

Coincidentally, there was an tsunami alert for Japan and Jeju island today after the earthquake in Chile, of which I wasn't aware and was ignorantly happy, standing with about 10,000 other Koreans on the beach for their Daeboreum Festival (first sighting of the moon festival).

This piece of poetry literally translates to: "Hiking Haeundae. The cliff rises up a thousand feet into the sky, as you look down pine trees dot the horizon. The sea meets the sky and blurs the skyline, as seagulls fly into the evening sun."

We met up with our Malaysian Dongseo friends again at Haeundae subway station. Our initial plan was to take a bus to a temple up some hill because they often visit temples during the first or fifteenth day of the lunar calendar. But after waiting for half an hour for the bus which arrived full and with no taxi willing to fetch us, we changed our plan to visit Haeundae beach instead. Which was fine by me!

There were so many people! They had food tents set up and people were flying kites in the air. Apparently there was some festival going on to mark the first new moon of the year and there was going to be a bonfire at 6pm. It was like a "Light the Christmas Tree" event but instead they were going to burn the huge stack of trees. Talk about polluting the environment. There was a long queue of people waiting to stick their wishing paper onto the tree-pile.

A nice ship passed by while we waited in the cold for more than half an hour while elderly Koreans pushed and bumped into us. People here are kinda rude in the sense that they always bump into you and NEVER apologize cause they take it for granted that with the huge number of people you are bound to bump into each other all the time. Like in supermarkets, crossing the road, in lifts, and during huge gatherings like this.

While we were waiting, there was an announcement and suddenly everyone started jostling and rushing to the front to take pictures with their handphones. They were actually trying to take pictures of the new moon. It's a tradition that during Daeboreum, people climb mountains, braving cold weather, trying to catch the first rise of the moon. It is said that the first person to see the moon rise will have good luck all year or a wish will be granted.

Bonfire. Voila!

2 comments:

leonardlcy said...

It looks like very crowded. If this is the amount of people in February, I can't imagine how crowded it would be during summer...
The bonfire looks like a huge giant SOS signal to heaven. hahah....

Xweing said...

I estimated 10,000 people there. Summer will be MOREEEEEEEEEE!!!

Korea's population is double that of Malaysia.