Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Changwon Bike Party Santa Ride!

산타할배 (Santa Claus) strikes again!
Saturday was a day full of biking. I was looking forward to my third Changwon Bike Party ride, this one being Christmas-themed. To my surprise, there was also a small cohort of Koreans doing their own Santa-themed bike ride on the same day. In years past, Changwon City has organized a huge Santa-themed bike ride, drawing hundreds and even thousands of participants in an amazing red and white parade. This year, funding for the event was cut. What a shame for a city that prides itself on its excellent bike share program. In any case, these hardcore cyclists were not to be deterred; though only a small group of about two dozen, they had their own unofficial Santa ride around town, and Coby and I joined in on the fun.
I had my camera out this time and snapped some photos while riding. Dangerous, I know. This one of Coby and some Santas was taken at a red light, though.
It was fun getting to know the members of the cycling club, called 전차데이 (Jeoncha Day, and jeoncha is a Gyeongnam dialect abbreviation of 자전거, or bicycle). They were very friendly and excited to get to know the two foreigners in their midst. They even treated us to lunch at a 오리탕 (duck soup) restaurant and then coffee at Starbucks afterward! Amazing Korean hospitality, right there. They of course invited us to their next ride. 전차데이 rides once a month, just like Changwon Bike Party. They also do more epic rides, like a tour around Jeju Island (it takes about three days) last spring. One lady was very eager to show me photos of every ride over the past year; she turned to be a kind of amateur competitor in long-distance cycling. I was impressed.
Changwon Bike Party Santa Ride! I don't have a Santa outfit, so I went with a red and green scheme with my Christmas bow tie. We're in the Changwon rotary, with its giant Christmas lights tree behind us. Photo courtesy Coby Z.
In the afternoon, it was time for the foreigner redux, Changwon Bike Party! Us 외국인 being decidedly less spirited, nobody came dressed as Santa besides our fearless leader Coby. Fortunately, some of the 전차데이 folks decided to join us for our afternoon ride, so we still had Santas in our lineup! The Changwon Bike Party route took us to the 창원의집 (House of Changwon), one of the very few cultural establishments in this city. It is the old residence of a Korean scholar that is now open to the public. It was my first time visiting the 창원의집, so I took plenty of photos. It was nothing too special, though, I must admit.
별 and me in front of the House of Changwon (창원의짐). Taken by Coby Z.
We then rode down to Changwon FC stadium, home to our city's soccer team. I actually had no idea that this stadium existed, even though it's very close to the university and the educational training center where I worked part-time last spring. Finally, we made our way back to the city center, called it a day, and moved on to evening festivities. Two of Coby's friends were visiting from Japan; they were crash-coursing Korea for about twenty-four hours, so it was fun introducing them to a bit of the culture. This included warming up in a cafe while getting covers of the same three Christmas songs blasted in our ears, dinner of 춘천닭갈비, which was spicy and delicious, and then 노래방, or karaoke! I'll be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of 노래방 usually, but if you're with the right people, it can be a darn good time.
Ended the night with 노래방 (noraebang, or karaoke room)! Coby and 별 have this Korean rap song down like nobody's business.
When the group headed to a Thursday Party bar for 3차 (the third event of the evening), I went home to get some rest, since Sunday was to be a day of grad school and grant applications. This was a great way to close out my weekend, though. Even though I haven't left my city in a month, I'm glad staying in town hasn't turned out to be a huge bore!

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