Sunday, April 18, 2010
Weekend 7 of 52.
Korean Folk Village, Tourist activities at Seoul Tourist Information Center, Reattempt at Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival
Friday was Happy Day again at Dah-un Jin. This time, the school took the students to the Korean Folk Village in Suwon. Just so happens that was on our list. Just so happens they invited me along, too. It is, as it sounds, a traditional Korean village, set up to show what life used to be. The kids (and some teachers) got to pound rice cakes, which, after splinters from wooden mallets were removed and bean powder was applied, we ate. It was really pretty there. It's such a different kind of pretty than is Ohio, and it's always so strange to be in it in real life. It is nice still to be experiencing completely new things as a young adult.
On Saturday afternoon, we went with Korrine and some of her friends from Adventure Korea to do some low-key tourist activities at the Seoul Tourist Information Center. Koreans love photo ops, so we took some pictures with cardboard celebrities and dressed in Hanbok. We also picked up a bunch of brochures and an illustrated guide to eating Korean food. There was even a phone set up for making free three-minute international calls.
Saturday night we were invited to a Beer Tasting Bonanza hosted by Chris and Heather Jones, a couple from our church. I will mention first their friendly dog, Koree, who let us pet and play and scratch his chin. We had a dog once, so very very long ago. You may recall him as such:
What a sleepy little babe he was.
But now we are in Korea and Tater is in Cincinnati with his grandmom, and I will end this aside to say that we very much appreciated Koree's affection last night. We also appreciated the opportunity to taste and very skillfully, with our excessive knowledge and experience, grade a variety of beers. We looked up beer tasting criteria even and filled out score cards to describe things like mouthfeel and aroma. Dan and I are not drinkers, obviously, because we are total babies, but that almost made it nicer to be able to taste a few without the commitment to a full 12 ounces. We tried Beck's, New Castle, Guinness, Sam Adams, something German starting with a W, and Mike's Hard Cran-Lemonade. I get now why beer drinkers think Mike's Hard is grammar school, because after a sip or two of Guinness, the Ade seemed completely non-alcoholic (read: tasty). Heather also made food pairings for most of the beers. We had orange sweet potatoes for the first time in months (Korean sweet potatoes are white inside) and hamburgers and guacamole and other things. Yay for guacamole.
Today, Sunday, we went to a church that meets in the chapel of Yonsei University. This is the University at which we attended the Park Yong Ha concert, but this time we got to look around a bit. After that, we decided to right our ill-timed, ill-planned failure trip to Yeouido for the Cherry Blossom Festival. I'm glad we did, because it was blooming, bustling, and bawesome.
The trip to the village was about an hour and a half away, depending on traffic. We rode down in these decked out Kia charter buses.
One of the students brought Fred's Bagels for the teachers. How nice are Koreans? So nice. Also nice, the cream cheese jars. I snagged two of the squat glass jars with lids. Parents of students also made for us gimbap (Korean sushi), sandwiches, dessert ddeok (rice cakes), and fried rice balls.
Here is Dan with Jiwon and Marius, two fellow teachers.
There was a stream running through the center of the village. There were different ways to cross it, this bridge the most gentrified.
Me and an "I love you" mushroom. Notice my track suit.
Dan being a good sport.
The village was more of an attraction than just an experience. There was a section with rides and various gift shops.
Spring is slow to Seoul, but it is sure.
Situated right in the middle of a city.
Wrangling students for a group photo.
Getting ready to pound some rice cakes.
Boys on one side, girls on the other, giggling abounds.
Dan and Marius malletting for an audience.
Rolling out and slicing the rice mounds into ddeok.
Traditional hut with drying vegetables.
Beasts of burden. Smelly ones.
You don't have to remember this, but these are totems and rock mounds like the ones we saw at the National Folk Museum our first weekend out.
An acrobat. He was a very daring and seasoned professional.
Another of the several ways across the water. Marius on the narrow footpath.
I don't know what this is other than thatched and coned.
Waste not, want not. Waste here, want here?
Jiwon showing off his seesaw skills.
Marius on a huge swing.
Another way across. This is a traditional stepping stone. Take care the drop and watch out your step, please.
There was a tea house at the village. We tried some red bean porridge. It was beany, and I have had my fill.
This was lunch on Saturday, bibimbap. You add rice and stir it up. It is very balanced and very good.
At the tourist center. Dan got a fine calf rub and a meet and greet with a star! But we don't know who they are.
Pretty much we are best friends by now.
Dan and Chris being much too large for their hanbok.
Korrine is such a good photo getter. She was very traditional in her traditional garb.
We do find Korea to be very !nspiring.
Korean Snow White. She is my fave princess, don't you know?
On Yonsei's campus. It was lovely.
So many motor bikes! Clever students.
Dan needed to make a call. Actually, the first weekend we were here, Dan really did try to make a call in a phone booth, but we could not figure it out. It is lucky that he now has a cell phone.
Yonsei's campus is in Sinchon. We found this somber dog (the weekend of dogs, apparently) on our way through the alleys to On the Border for lunch (our to-date most Western dining experience in Seoul). He was parked near this exhortation to "tAKE DRUGS". Maybe that is why he is sad, though it also appears he's been drinking.
Because this country runs on happy time, there was a man on stilts together with his costumed co-conspirator handing out balloons and balloon animals in the subway at Yeouido station.
We found our way to the festival after all!
It really was just beyond the National Assembly Building.
Completely worth it. It was so pretty.
On the right are booths, which we mistook for food or festive merchandise peddlers. Instead, they were sort of like convention booths with brochures for certain products and services.
Instead of caricaturists, there were portraitists drawing incredible likenesses of seated patrons.
We found some art made out of trash, and that always proves interesting and artistic, so we enjoyed that.
And we ended our festival activities with the whitest, fluffiest, most cottony candy floss ever fired from the back of a motorcycle. He made it seem effortless. Won well spent.