Whale hunting used to be a way of life in Ulsan until international pressure caused it to cease. However, the city still embraces it’s history by hosting a Whale Festival every year.
There are many things to do and see at the festival.
Race Other Waygooks (foreigners) in Dragon Boats
|Team ajumma (old lady) pants getting ready to board their dragon boat.|
Be Interviewed for TV
There have been numerous occasions now where I have been interviewed for Korean TV. I think I am generally the “token foreigner” and just happen to be in the right place at the right time. My first time ever being interviewed in Korea was at Jinha beach while looking at the beautiful sand art. It was an awkward conversation but my newest experience definitely jumps to the #1 spot for awkwardness.
Of course, as soon as you do something laughable, such as don a ridiculous ajumma hat that only children are wearing, is when you get interviewed for Korean television.
As neither of our interviewers spoke English very well, our talk went something like this:
Woman: You……….festival………uhhhh……. (giggle) uuuhhh?
Me: (????) It’s a very fun festival and there are many things to do and see.
Woman: You……..Ulsan ……….uhhhh……….(giggle) uuuhhhh?
Me: (?????) I like Ulsan very much, it’s a lovely city to live in.
(Then there was an awkward two minutes where the five of us just stood there and smiled at each other until the cameraman decided that enough was enough and stuck the camera in each of our faces for a close up.)
Cameraman: You name?
We each said our name, and then bowed respectfully. The interview ended with us all laughing and smiling at the ridiculousness of our communication issues.
Explore the Village
There are many things to see, do, and buy at the festival.
|Who doesn’t want to get swallowed by a giant whale?|
|Or pop bubbles with the toddlers?|
There are plenty of souvenirs to buy for those inclined towards whales and weaponry.
|Playing with weapons is always fun!|
|Have some compassion child! I think spearing a bear when it’s already being roasted is a bit excessive, stuffed animal or not.|
|Alert! we actually found public trash receptacles (difficult feat in this country).|
Show Off Your Craftiness
I quite enjoy pandering to my creative side, and there are several craft stations to visit. Yes, they are intended for the children, but as foreigners we basically count as children.
|This station ran out of paper (that was the story anyway), so we couldn’t actually make the craft. The black stuff is actually “ink” from a sea creature (octopus, maybe).|
While the octopus ink picture was out of the question, we were able to take part in the seashell whale craft. I think we might have made the day of the woman helping us.
|please note the ages of the children doing the craft with us.|
|We weren’t allowed to use the hot glue gun ourselves.|
|Introducing my new friend, Whalebur.|
side note: Whalebur lost his tail while being transported. Emergency glue gun surgery is required. Thankfully, Korea is the plastic surgery capital of the world, so he should be ok. Don’t worry!
update: Whalebur is in good health and recovering from his wounds. His ego was only mildly damaged from this embarrassing ordeal.
Enjoy the Food
Food is a must at any and all festivals in Korea. Whether or not you choose to be adventurous with your choices is up to you.
I particularly enjoyed a few (yes, multiple) visits to the food tent for some delicious pajeon 파전 and makkoli 막걸리.
|If squid is your festival food of choice you are in luck!|
|Potato swirls on a stick (which I would eat if I ate potatoes).|
|Food tent: favorite place at the festival!|
The pajeon was so good we decided to go back for seconds. Actually, to be truthful, we went back for more makkoli and were given a service (free) pajeon as it was our 5th bottle.
Watch a Show
|Those are some serious hair bows.|
|Something tells me he wasn’t too thrilled with the performances.|
Although I did get to hear the beautiful voices of the Bow Girls, the one thing I did miss was the whale performance. Thankfully, some of my fellow expats have captured it beautifully. I wish I had seen it!
|I did catch some ladies from the performance walking to get a snack, but for great photos from the actual show please check out The Open Road Before Me and Life Outside of Texas for great details and beautiful photos.|
Check out more details (activities, timetables, etc..) at the Whale Festival website.