Second to the right and straight on till morning

I arrived in the city of 1.4 million just as the sun was setting over the river. Daejeon was beautiful! I stared in wonder out the taxi window as we headed toward the river. The driver dropped me off at the end of a bridge. I made my way to the Deli Festival. It was a very small gathering of food booths from “around the world.” Well there were a few booths with non-Korean food like pizza, spaghetti and kebabs surrounded by food booths serving Korean foods.

I had a kebab for 4,000 won. It was spicy beef cabbage wrapped in a flour tortilla. It was good, but a little more expensive than it was worth.

I checked out the air festival going on across the street next to the river.  Ropes and material was laid out near baskets for hot air balloons on the grass. Across the bridge there were people on hang gliders being whipped around by a crane. Vendors were selling lamps, fans and paper planes. There were beautiful square paper lamps in red and white tissue paper. Children and adults were having a great time painting their paper fans and planes. There was a small talent show in the middle of the fair, right on the edge of the river. A band of three teens took the stage and played some smooth jazzy blues before I wandered back to the Deli Festival.

Back at the food booths, I decided to try out the spaghetti. The spaghetti, apparently representing Spain, was a plate of pasta, tomato sauce and veggies. It was delicious! The best spaghetti I’ve had in Korea. I sat down and confidently ate my spaghetti with chop sticks. I instantly felt better and it was well worth my 6,000 won..

I sat on a small wooden bench with my feet stretched out before me to enjoy my dinner. I heard a bang and looked up. Brilliant fireworks filled the sky. An American had just taken the stage behind me. His band played rock music to a well-timed firework show. As the fireworks fell, the band rocked on. I couldn’t have been happier. Something about that moment of music, light and food was just magical. When the final waft of firework drifted away, the band exited the stage. Right on cue.

Soon paper lamps were rising in the dark. The Air Festival crowd had released hundreds of lamps. A small fire wafted hot air up as the lamps floated over head. The lamps dotted the night sky like stars. I couldn’t help, but smile. The floating red square lamps rose up from the river before drifting lazily over the festival the wind carrying them across the city. A few of the lamps blew out and fell gently on the festival tents. Before long a huge hot air balloon went up. As the flames lit the ballon I could see the words “It’s Daejeon” light up. The balloon flickered for a few minutes as the music got going.

A few people flew over the festival on powered hang gliders spewing red hot sparks. The crowd waved to them as they passed above. The music played in the background.

I joined the crowd in front of the stage and rocked the night away.


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