Week 10: GIC International Day

Gwangju Travel Blog

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What lovely weather!

For the past couple months we've been hearing how much fun the GIC (Gwangju International Center's) International Community Day has been.  This year marks the 13th anniversary of the event.  It's a chance for the numerous expats from all around the world to come together, teach others about their culture and feel better knowing that there are many other people here in Korea going through the same things they are. 

The two day event began on Saturday with a talk given by a member of the International Community followed by a Korean Speech Contest for foreigners.  As good as my Korean skills are I did not enter the contest on the odd chance that one of the other contestants might be able to say more than "My name is Katie", "I am hungry" and "You are fat"; maybe I'll try my luck next year :)

                                                                 Sunday morning we woke up to pouring rain.

Some of the tents started blowing across the city hall grounds. It was a little bit of a shock to the people sitting beneath them :)
Yes, Typhoon Nari decided to "rain on our parade" so to speak.  I had been looking forward to this day for so long that Justin and I decided to check out the festival anyway.  Of course, as soon as we stepped out of our apartment we had to ford a small river and walk with our heads down into the horizontal rain and gusting winds.  By the time we got to the bust stop we were soaked from the knees down.

On the upside, we got to take the Gwangju subway for the first time.  The subway fare is the same price as the bus fare but the subway is much cleaner, less crowded, and does not run the risk of tossing you on your tush as soon as you step onboard.

Justin decked out in a complimentary poncho. Unfortunately they had run out of blue and yellow ones.
  Currently there is only one subway line in Gwangju but two more lines are under construction.  I was very impressed, the subway here is actually much nicer (and newer) than the vast subway system in Tokyo. 

After a 20 minute  subway ride we got off at the end of the line, Sangmu, and headed out into the rain.  We soon met a Kiwi who has been here for 2.5 years and a Canadian who has spent the last 11 years teaching in Korea.  We all split a cab and quickly found ourselves at the vast, rain-soaked grounds of City Hall.  There were already 50 or so people there huddled under the tents waiting for the food vendors to start serving.  We were heartily welcomed with promises of free beer and ponchos.  While standing in line at the "mexican" food table we ran into most of our Korean class: Bobby and Meena, a married couple from Canada; Katie, a Canadian and her friend Sarah from the States; Jim, a Californian;  Anthony from Philadelphia;  Elizabeth, also from the States;  Marisa from South Africa, and Lee from the UK.

The ponchos were more for show than anything. We were pretty much soaked already.
  Most of us were drooling at the thought of eating Mexican food in Korea.  That is the one ethnic food we can't find here.  We've seen plenty of McDonalds' Burger Kings, Dunkin Donuts and even an Outback but Mexican restaurants are nonexistant here.  After waiting for half an hour while being bombarded by wind and rain (even under the tents) we received heaping platefuls of tortillas, salsa, guacamole and chicken.  It really didn't taste like Mexican food in the States but it was delicious just the same.  Over the next couple hours Justin and I sampled food from Vietnam, India, China and Nepal.  There was even a USA/Canadian vendor selling brats and hotdogs but we were too stuffed from all of the other food we had eaten.
Some Indian guys started their own mini mosh pit :)
  Justin enjoyed several glasses of free beer while I spent a few thousand Won on water bottles.

After eating we wandered over to the stage to enjoy the talent competition.  There was an Indian singing and dancing trio, a Scottish couple dancing in kilts, a traditional Korean band, a Filipino dance troupe, a Canadian rock band and a couple American guitarists.  We were also able to catch part of the yogurt chugging competition (because here the consistency of yogurt is purely liquid) before we headed out.  We decided that standing drenched and shivering for the next our while we waited for the raffle wasn't worth it so we splish-splashed our way back to the subway station. 

Thirty minutes later we arrived downtown where we were supposed to meet Danny and Alicia to see "Bourne Ultimatum".

A traditional Korean band gets ready to perform.
  We purchased the tickets early and waited for them to come.  We hadn't been waiting long when we saw Danny hurry in and get in line for the tickets.  We flagged him down (and in my excitement I upended my entire bucket of popcorn all over the floor) and told him we already bought the tickets.  He looked ashamed and explained that he and Alicia had a family thing to go to so they wouldn't be able to join us.  He wanted to buy our tickets to make up for breaking the date but we assured him it was no problem.  So Justin and I watched the movie by ourselves while huddling for warmth because our clothes had definitely not dried out. 

When the movie was over we exited the theater; we expected to be hit with 60mph gusts of wind since the typhoon was supposed to hit Gwangju with full force by 9pm but the skies were surprisingly clear.

A dance troupe from the Philippines.
  We grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed home.  It had been a wonderful but exhausting day.  Justin turned on the news to hear warnings that the typhoon would be hitting us hard the following morning while he was on his way to work.  Luckily the forecasts were wrong and he did not have to swim to the bus stop.

 

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What lovely weather!
What lovely weather!
Some of the tents started blowing …
Some of the tents started blowing…
Justin decked out in a complimenta…
Justin decked out in a compliment…
The ponchos were more for show tha…
The ponchos were more for show th…
Some Indian guys started their own…
Some Indian guys started their ow…
A traditional Korean band gets rea…
A traditional Korean band gets re…
A dance troupe from the Philippine…
A dance troupe from the Philippin…
An adventurous nun braved the typh…
An adventurous nun braved the typ…
A traditional Korean band.
A traditional Korean band.
A performance at the Internationa…
Gwangju
photo by: jegs76