Friday, August 3, 2012

California Beach Water park

Claire and I are on summer vacation!  Guess how long that is  ....... 3 days.

Oh well, I'll take what I can get!

On our first day of summer vacation we went to a water park with some of my students.  It was a ton of fun but there were definitely some stark differences between Korea and the states.  Allow me to elaborate. (don't forget to check out the videos at the bottom)

But before we begin, I wanted to mention something.  I pointed out a "Made in China" tag on one of the light poles inside the park to Claire.  She said "Wow, the light pole is made in China, in a water park in Korea named after a state in America."  It was a really profound realization for me seeing the world as a global community right before my eyes.  I imagined how separate the world was even a few generations ago, and how truly close and tightly knit the globe is now.  Good or bad, the future is intensely exciting to consider.

Enough pondering and on with the story. The 6 of us drove to the park, groggy and slap happy about the coming day.  We left early, around 7:00, so that we could enjoy the park before it became packed like American chicken farms.

We all pitched in to rent out a bungalow.  While Sarena and Louise went in to pick out a bungalow, Ray, Jay, Claire and I waited in the parking lot.  We needed a bungalow against the wall of the parking lot so that we could sneak food in.  Food, like any amusement park, is insanely expensive at California Beach.

Our box of food.

After going inside Claire and I distracted the lifeguard closest to us with fast and high vocabulary questions about the park in English.  He was very confused but after taking a picture with us we became quick friends.  This allowed Ray to throw the food over the wall to Jay without being seen.  Very sneaky indeed.  Koreans are natural born shufflers and ninjas!  The successful distraction made me think about a life of foreign con-artistry, but in case this post serves as self incrimination later in life, I will digress.

Distracting the lifeguard.

At a Korean water park you must wear a life jacket at all times with the exception of the single person super fast water slides.  It was really annoying at first but we got used to it quickly.  On some of the rides you are also required to wear some sort of hat to stop hair from getting into the water.  Because my hair is so short I was good to go without a hat.  That left five people with only 2 hats.  I suggested that we just wrap some shirts around peoples' heads like turbans.  It totally worked!  Another strange thing is that most Koreans wear shirts even while swimming, many times even long sleeve shirts.  It is in an attempt to avoid being sun burnt/tan (being very pale and white is more beautiful in Korea). 

Everyone is wearing hoodies!

There are two rides I have never seen before at an American water park that I want to discuss.  The first is the not so lazy river.  We called it the tsunami.  You grab an inner tube and wade into a river with 12 foot walls on either side.  About every minute a voice announces to the riders "five, four, three two, one, LET'S GO!"  A 4-7 foot wave (depending where you are on the river) is released from the entrance of the ride like a charging war horse.  It slams into you and throws you with flailing arms further down the river to wait for another wave to come again.  It was exhilarating and one of the best water rides I have ever been on.

The river.

The best ride in the park is a water slide.  After climbing a steep set of stairs your reach the top of the highest slide in the park.  Above the entrance to the tunneled slide is a trap door that you stand on.  Above and around this trap door is what looks like a space ship escape pod with a glass window on the front so everyone can see you.  After stepping into the pod, you are told how to stand so that you do not get hurt.  Cross your legs and put your hands behind your head.  Tilt your chin down and don't move!  A man gives you a countdown and screws with you so that you have no idea when the trap door will open.  "3, 2, 1..... 1.....1..... go...... go......hmmmmmm, go..-POP!"  The trap door flies open and you are in free fall for a second or two.  Your body finally meets with the nearly vertical slide and rushes you down a tunnel in steep curves and high power turns.  When you finally reach bottom, your adrenaline is still pumping and your breathe is still held.  What a trip!!

Claire and Sarena. 

Jay, Ray, and Louise.

Water Explosion! 

For lunch and a few snack breaks we would return to the bungalow.  Sarena made kimbop for everyone and even prepared some for Claire and I without meat.  It was unfathomably good!  By far the best kimbop we have had in Korea so far!


Chilling in the Bungalow

By around 5:00 we were all exhausted and ready for some uninterrupted hibernation.

Relaxing in the hot tub.

The locker rooms were EXTREMELY nice.  First of all, as opposed to the states, no one cared about being naked.  No one was shy or embarrassed (if they were they didn't show it) about their bodies.  I am a solid believer that everyone's body is strange, and unique.  It is always so weird to me to see people so embarrassed about the temporary form they inhabit.

The locker rooms also had plenty of 10 second dryers for your swim suit and other wet belongings along with complimentary plastic bags to store your damp things in.  Thank you Korea.

I think that covers about everything. All in all, Claire and I were surrounded by some really amazing company and hilarious conversation all day.  Ray, Jay, Sarena, and Louise, you guys are awesome!  Thanks for an amazing trip!

A dragonfly landed on Claire's finger.  Good Luck!!

Check out some of the videos I took with my waterproof camera!  1 2 3 4

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