One of the best thing that can happen to you when you travel is when you bump into one of their festival. I was so excited when I was planning and realised I was going to be in Busan during their Fireworks Festival. Lots of fireworks festival were going around in Korea and I was really lucky to catch one of them. Though Busan Fireworks Festival isn’t one of the traditional festival in Korea, it’s still really big!
That day, I had my afternoon went unplanned, just in case I have decided to head Gwangan beach early to grab a good spot, but I still ended up reaching there quite late because I was so tired and sleepy I went back to the guesthouse for a nap. Hahaha!
My roommates from Malaysia were asking me what time I was going to be there and I said I would probably be there at about 5 or 5:30 to get a good seat, and I reached Gwangan beach around that time but by the time I was there, the whole place was almost packed. You almost couldn’t see the sand on the beach and the walkway… Since it was a Saturday, family, couples and friends had went early to grab a good spot in order to see the fireworks. I was pretty glad I reached at about 5pm and not later because any later, I might end up at the other side of the road and seeing the sky instead of the fireworks.
You would need to walk a long stretch of road after you exit Gwangan subway station and along the stretch, it’s usually quite quiet, (I know that because I went the day before to pictures of the bridge, and there were almost no soul around, so much so I kept asking the residents there for directions to the beach) but on the day of the festival, that whole stretch nearly became a food market. You have people selling oranges, kimbap, chips, chicken, ice cream, pizzas and lots of other food. It was crazy and I was trying to fight the temptation to get kimbaps and some other food.
Cafes along Gwangan beach allowed reservations for that night and you could reserve a table days before, sit in a warm area and enjoy the fireworks. However, nothing beats sitting with the crowd on your picnic mats, munching on roasted chicken, kimbap, fruits, instant cup noodles, soju and beer, with the cold autumn wind blowing in your face.
Since I was alone, I really don’t need the picnic mat, neither will I have capacity to down another big packet of fried chicken again (story later in the post). I planned to stand on the road at where I deemed has the best view because it was right in the middle of Gwangan bridge. However, I saw this family walking away with their mats (they probably found a bigger and better spot), so I rushed right in but was chased away by an ahjumah who said she stood down there for the longest time ever. ._.
I was totally baffled because I swear I didn’t see her standing there when the previous family left. I could have just sat right down but I chose to refrain and spotted a tiny winy spot right in the middle of a family and a couple, so I asked if there was anyone sitting there and sat down after they said I could have that tiny space.
And then the next hilarious thing happened. I realised I need to head to the washroom badly. It was only 6pm when I realised it and my initial plan was to wait till everything was over, and then find a toilet afterwards. My concern was, “If I walked away, will I lose this spot?”, but after an hour of internal struggle on whether to go or not, I couldn’t take it anymore, left my bag to secure my spot and went off the Starbucks for the washroom. (You know that the demand of the washroom is very very high when you have the male’s line almost half the female’s)
Everyone was crazy enough to queue at least 30mins for their turn because Starbucks only have 2 cubicles for the ladies. Some ahjusshis were so frustrated they asked the guys in front of them to pee together at the same urinal so that they can save the queuing time, was too funny hahahaha!
The main thing about this is… when I came back to my spot (which I almost could not find), my bag was there, intact, with everything in it just like when I left it. Not encouraging everyone to risk your personal belongings like how I did, but just wanted to point out that Korea is really safe.
So yea, this was how packed and crowded the beach was that night, and I took the 2-3 hours before the show starts… it’s a little crazy. My advice was to head down at 3pm. My Malaysian roommates did that and they got such nice seats on the sand.
They have speakers everywhere on the beach and they were playing music the entire time, even during the show, and the fireworks matches the music and the mood totally, like how it will turn gentle and then suddenly bursting into the climax when the song reaches the climax too.
I know im such a fangirl but I just have to mention this. No brain’s 넌 내게 반했어 (catch the song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFv1IQLekU0) came on before the show start and it’s the song for Lotte Giants catcher Kang Minho. So when the song was played, you can hear the crowd automatically going “강민호!” Ha, I felt like I was in the baseball stadium for awhile.
While everyone else was busy using their tripods to record the show, I was busy snapping and videoing away with my phone. My thought would be to travel as light as possible so that I wouldn’t have so many concerns when the crowd goes crazy and everyone goes into sardine mode (and I was really really glad I did that).
The show lasted an hour and just rightttt before the show ended, you start seeing some people leaving the ground, and I was thinking why, and I realised it after the show finally ended. The crowd was worse than that of Chinatown’s during Chinese New year I swear. You have people pushing you from the back, and you are stuck in the crowd that’s not moving, and then you hear people shouting out to those behind to not push. It was CRAZY.
The crowd was so bad, the traffic weren’t even moving. Those taking the bus were stuck in the jam and those that walked definitely went faster. However, they started doing crowd controlling and stopped people from entering the subway stations so that they can clear the crowd batch by batch. Most of the crowd ended up queuing outside the various subway stations or walked further to other exits/ stations.
I alighted at Gwangan but ended up at Suyeong after the show ended. It took almost about 1 hour 45 mins to just get into the train back to Haeundae.
So there you have the crowd, IN the station. And no, I was not anywhere near the gantry into the station. -.-
Did I mention that the fireworks there wins Singapore’s hands down? And the fact that you have fireworks and Gwangan bridge together, it’s really really gorgeous. Despite all that crazy crowd they had, I would definitely love to experience another Fireworks Festival again.
Okay so here’s the story. I was craving really really badly for fried chicken the night before the fireworks festival and went into a chicken shop to satisfy my cravings. The moment I walked in, I headed straight to the counter and order a plate of fried chicken and proceeded to sit down at a table. There was Korean Series running that evening and my eyes were pretty much glued to the TV. The guy assumed that I would like to have my chicken take-out despite the fact that I was sitting on the table, so he packed it in a box, and got me to pay for the chicken at the counter. I tried telling him in english that I wanted to eat in but he doesn’t seems to understand what I was saying, so he insisted that I need to pay for the chicken right now and I did. I was really really puzzled but I took the box of chicken and headed back to my table and started to open it up and eat, before I was even done with my first piece, he came over to my table and scolded me for not telling him that I would like to eat-in. Apparently, eating in would cost a little more and the waitress got all the chicken out on the plate and collected a little more money from me (I suppose that’s service fee, I have no idea, and it makes it worse when they can’t seem to understand english). All the funny things… it’s times like this when I wish I had a friend with me who could laugh at my silliness XD The amount of chicken was a lot… a lot a lot a lot… and I managed to finish everything except 2 pieces, and a bottle of coke. And that was why I didn’t wanted to down another chicken. I would probably turn into one if I did… Evidence that I finished them: