Last Saturday I participated in a scavenger hunt around Gwangju. The event was organized by the Gwangju International Center and I was excited since I got to hang out with some other foreigners and hopefully win some prizes!
My partners in this adventure are Amanda and Scott from New Jersey. I’d met them a couple of weeks prior and learned that they had met in Calculus III. How many couples can say that? We meet up at the check-in desk but run into a snag because there are only three of us and evidently you need four to participate. We talk to the organizers and ask why we would not be in the scavenger hunt if we had signed up and shown that there were only three of us. They were a bit hesitant but they let us in anyways and we even got to keep our group name which was Jack, Johnny and Jim.
Now as the main guy is explaining the scavenger hunt and what we have to do we get our instructions and the official shirts. Everyone is complaining about the color of the shirts and how ugly they are but I think they look pretty good. Orange is always in fashion where I’m from and eight days out of the year you won’t find a sexier sight than Neyland Stadium in Orange and White.
While I’m having flashbacks of Neyland Stadium Scott noticed that written on the pavement is a unique quote that states, “Art is but a virus from outer space.” I barely hear him as I’m listening to the instructions and the guy is saying that we have to follow the clues given to us and then take a picture of us and the clue together. Also the order that we take those pictures must be on our camera, no camera phones allowed, and must match the order that we found the clues. Lastly, we only have two hours to try and find as many of the 50 available clues around the city.
So we get going and I quickly realize that Amanda is pretty goal-oriented but Scott is a man who lives in the moment. We go and find our first clue which is the fountain in front of the check-in area.
We then head past downtown Gwangju to go where Amanda thinks most of the clues are located. I actually have no idea where we’re going but I’m surprised that Amanda does. They’ve only been here in Gwangju a month longer than I have but they tell me that in that time they befriended a Zen Buddhist monk. Yup a real monk who’s been out of the monastery for over a year after spending the previous 30 practicing his beliefs in isolation and that a couple of weeks ago he showed them around Gwangju. Turns out that most of the clues are the places that the monk showed them.
Our next clue is a bridge that crosses the river and in the distance is the Statue of Liberty!
After crossing the river we move up a hill and find our next clue which is a 100 year old house.
While we’re walking Scott realizes that the clues we’re following are the same things and are in the same order that the monk showed them. He says, “Art is but a virus from outer space” which is his way of understanding this epiphany. We continue further up the hill and find the English radio station and then continue up towards a beautiful park.
After going through the park we come to our next clue which is a five story Pagoda that has an incredible view of Gwangju. I learn that a Pagoda is a Buddhist temple or sacred building, which explains why the monk took them there.
And this is the view from the top of the Pagoda: (No I have no idea what I'm doing with my arm.)
And from the other side:
After the Pagoda I think that the next clue takes us towards a wooden Gazebo that I saw from the Pagoda. We head down away from the Pagoda and up another hill to the Gazebo. We figure that it isn’t the right Gazebo but we take a picture anyways.
Leaving the Gazebo we walk down a long flight of stone steps and see one of the organizers leading people to a coffee shop so we can get our next clue. I hear “Art is but a virus from outer space.” Oh man is Scott cracking me up but we go up the elevator to the coffee shop and take some more pictures.
After we leave the coffee shop we go and wander a bit looking for some clues but we’re not having any luck until Amanda realizes that the stone steps we walked down to get to the coffee shop are actually one of the clues. Scott and I hurry back and take our picture on the steps.
We head back to meet up with Amanda when Scott steps off the stones and goes down a worn out dirt path. I wait for him to come back but he doesn’t so I go down to catch up with him when I realize that we are at another clue! Now I’m starting to think the monk’s mojo has worn off on Scott. We get our picture and go back to the coffee shop and meet up with Amanda.
We leave the coffee shop and start to make our way back to the check-in desk. We find a couple more clues on the way and again Scott remarks on how, “Art is but a virus from outer space.” Seems that Scott is delving deeper into the mysteries of the Universe the further we go on the scavenger hunt. Since we took the long way back to the check-in we really have to hustle to make it back, organize our clues to match our pictures and then turn them in.
We jog back, find the last clue we can get before we run out of time and then I grab the clues and sprint back to the check-in desk. I sit down and start to furiously organize everything knowing that I only have five minutes remaining. As I’m finishing up Scott and Amanda stroll right up high five one another and then give me a high five. I mean these two really know how to live in the moment! I count all the clues and we only got 29 out of 50 which I don’t think is that bad considering that I really didn’t know where we were in Gwangju. But I’m happy that we did our best, I learned a lot more about Gwangju and we finished in time.
I push through the crowd and hand our sheet to one of the organizer's who looks at me and asks, “How was it?” “Art is but a virus from outer space” I answer, turn around and walk back to my teammates.
Pictures courtesy of A.S.