Sports Day(s) at Buldang

I took a bunch of pictures over two days of Sports Day(s). They’re all from the same events, but just for the sake of ease I’m just presenting them in the order I took them.

Various food vendors and part of the crowd around the playground.

Various cheap toys were also to be bought. Actually, maybe once a week there’s always someone selling some kind of candy or ice cream or snack food from a little portable cart around the school. Just tons of them on these two days.

One of the kids running in a relay race. In the background you can see kids holding large blue flags, namely because they’re on the Blue team.

The boy in red in the foreground is Moses Jo. He’s in B1, which is one of the lower classes, but he’s extremely smart. Just a little high energy and can get a little out of control. The girl in the background in the red is Nana, a girl from A3, the worst behaved and second worst English students. The Korean teachers moved her from better A level classes to my class because she said she doesn’t even know her ABCs, but she talks to me in English more than any other student, consistently answers questions correctly, and even does a lot of the bookwork at home without being told, and all correctly. I’ve noticed a lot of times Korean teachers are really quick to label a student as bad or stupid.

Just more relay race action.

Just a shot of the kids. Blue team foreground, White team background.

Some kids are less interested in the Sports Day events and make their own fun.

These industrious students use water bottles to create a little river system.

These tents seem to be some kind of stations for something, but I have no idea what. They seemed to be staffed by teachers from the school.

Setting up the final game of the day: Korean pinata. Basically, kids throw bean bags at the lanterns on the poles until they break open. No candy though, just streamers and a banner. What a gyp.

As you can tell, these poles aren’t anchored into the ground by any means. That means two or three poor students have to hold it up amongst the teeming mob of bean bag wielding first graders and try not to get beaned too bad.

The madness at the Blue pole. As you can see, even some parents/teachers take part.

The chaos at the White pole.

BLUE TEAM WINS! Well, this event. Ultimately, White’s lead was insurmountable on Day 1.

More of the local fare. Whether you’re looking for something sweet, horrifying, or adorable, this stand has got you covered with Korean pasties, steaming silkworms, and heart-shaped waffles.

Front and center with his arms raised is Nick. He’s in G class, last of the day and pretty badly behaved. Nick himself isn’t that bad, but most of the boys are. He’s a pretty cool kid, but he always feels super entitled to things and gets upset easily if something doesn’t go his way. He’s only in third grade, but he’s in the smartest class with fifth and sixth graders.

More photos from closing ceremonies on Day 1.

All the kids were doing some silly kind of synchronized dance, which they had obviously had to practice in the weeks prior to Sports Day(s). I’d also seen them practicing some of the different events.

Singing a song, probably about the glorious motherland.

Relay race, Day 2. I really tried to get this exchange because it involved a couple of my students, but at the last moment a Korean popped in front of me. Still, just to the left of her hat, the girl in the red is Anny. She’s also in B1, and she’s got a little bit of an attitude and she’s one of the more reluctant learners, but I still kind of like her, anyway.

Blue team flag-wavers and drum-beaters in the middle of the relay track.

Steve again, but this time instead of looking super gangster in his Cub Scout uniform, he’s sporting an intense look of grit and determination to catch up to the Blue team runner.

Blue team wins the relay race and takes the slimmest of leads going into the final event.

The girl on the right side of the pole is Jenny, from my E class. She’s a little reluctant in class, particularly speaking, but she’s a good student regardless and lots of fun.

The calm before the storm.

This picture reminds me of Braveheart. Except, instead of blood-thirsty Scotsmen that are fighting off oppressive British rule with swords, maces, and bare asses, they’re adorable little Korean first graders winging bean bags at a paper lantern full of streamers.

Parents/teachers running to join the White cause.

Alas and alack, the power of the Blue team proved to be too much for the lantern. The Blue team kids went absolutely berserk when the thing popped open.

The final score for Day 2.

All-in-all, pretty cool, I think. I wish I would’ve had something like this when I was a kid.

Thursday, I ended up going out to dinner with Mr. Lee, the two new Korean teachers Amy and Diane, Dave and Lawrence. We had galbi, which was fantastic as always, and I ate until I was stuffed. Afterward, Lawrence, Amy, Diane and I went to a bar and drank some more and just had a good conversation. Eventually some Korean business men came in and started singing loudly and badly, so we left, and I went home.

Friday after work, I took off and went to another Cheonan City FC game. We played the Ansan Hallelujah. Yeah. Their uniforms were black crosses on a yellow field. I guess they’re sponsored by a church or something. Cheonan City FC won 4-0 (the last goal coming in extra time in the second half — just an extra kick in the nuts), but it could’ve been much worse. There were at least four more times the keeper was completely beaten but our players just missed the shot wide. Towards the end, you could tell only like three of our players were trying to score anymore, since they’d actually make a really good break, split the defense and have good positioning, but then none of the mid-fielders came up for support. It’s a little frustrating when a team just stops playing because their lead is insurmountable. I know it’s a dick move to run the score up, but you still have to stop the other team from scoring. You can’t expect them to just half-ass it and possibly let you back into it. After the game the Ansan players literally collapsed on the field and spent several minutes on their knees with their heads down. Utter shame. I love it. Then they held hands around mid-field and had a prayer. I really like these soccer games. There’s nothing better to make you feel connected to a city than a sports team to support.

Later, Dave and I spent several hours searching for a bar anything like Rhythm and Booze in Cheonan, to no avail. In Yawoori, pretty much everything is either a noreabang or a sit-down and eat bar that Koreans are so fond of. We found a couple more American-esque bars, but they were pretty empty, since the foreign population here isn’t that big, and no one likes drinking in an empty bar. Eventually we settled on the Banana Bar. We didn’t drink that much, but mostly played pool. Despite the fact that I’m shit at pool, Dave managed to carry us through four or five games of pool against other patrons. Eventually we met our match against two Korean women. One was cute in a Korean way and decent at pool, the other was drop dead gorgeous and a monster at pool. We played three games against them, and managed to keep them close, but eventually lost the third game and the series, then took off. The night was a little anti-climactic, but I still had a passable time. Certainly better than sitting at home and doing nothing, so I’m not going to complain about it.

Once this post is done I’m going to try and get a haircut. It’s starting to look unpresentable. Haha. After dinner, I may go back to Yawoori, catch a movie, then check out a hookah bar I saw a sign for. I’d talked to a couple people about hookah here, and they said they didn’t know of any place in Cheonan for it, which broke my heart. When the warm weather rolls around, it’s hookah time, so I’m definitely in the mood for it. It’s a little slice of home right here in Korea.

One last thing before I take off, I went biking and hiking today, and found some super cool stuff. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but my body allowing, I’m going to try to go back tomorrow and take pictures, so stay tuned.


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