Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Go fly a kite!

There have been a lot of festivals lately, eh? A couple of weeks ago Gwangalli Beach hosted the Oedong festival. I saw signs for this festival throughout March but they didn't give any indication of what the festival involves.

People brought their dogs, of course. This one not only has wings, but also a teeny tiny little bow on its head.

This is the best example of a dyed dog I've seen, and it's wearing little booties!

It was a windy day and lots of people had kites. Somebody took this further.
This line of kites stretched far into the sky, and there was a box on the beach with many more that he didn't put up (the existing line of kites swooped down and interfered with the "Oedong Festival" sigh that was suspended with balloons over the water.)

The festival included booths with demonstrations of pulleys and basketmaking, and free samples of kimchi and makalli (Korean rice wine--it's really good.) There was also a dance representing a bullfight.


The brown bull won.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Use a little muscle

A few weeks ago I visited the Cheongdo Bull Fighting Festival. It's nothing like Spanish bullfighting, and instead the bulls fight each other. Or sometimes they don't.

Korea really likes tourists. You'll see this if you arrive in Seoul, where the airport even has a culture museum and free arts and crafts for foreigners. I went to the festival with a few other foreigners, and we were greeted at the train station by people who handed us English brochures and told us how to get to the festival (a taxi is expensive--here, let me walk you two blocks to the bus station!)

The most inviting thing on the brochure was the "Magic Show of Levitation." So we saw that. The first part was this guy, who danced around regally while his mask changed colors and then disappeared. It's a difficult thing to capture in a picture.


Then some guys came out in bull suits to help with the levitation part. First, a little boy was levitated, but he started crying so they started over with another volunteer. The bulls removed the supports and look: there's nothing holding up the platform!


Also they had coconuts! Here is Pete using the official Coconut Skewer to make a straw hole. After drinking the juice, we broke them open on the concrete and ate with our hands.


And then my camera battery died... this is what happens when I start using my camera again suddenly. Shame on me.

Here's a good picture that I stole from the Internet:

So what happens is this: two bulls are led into a ring by handlers. The bulls are pulled together, face to face, by ropes through their nose rings. Like magnets, they suddenly lock horns and push each other back and forth until one of them turns around and jogs away. The other bull is the winner!

The bull fights were done by weight, so that the largest bulls fought last. For the last three fights though, the veteran bulls did not even fight. One bull would give up before they touched, and the other was declared the winner (to much booing.)

Monday, May 2, 2011


There is a delicious aspect of Korean culture that you should know about. It's called "Sam Gyup Sal" which means "Three Layer Meat." I like to call it "Giant Bacon." And it's amazing.


Here are three varieties: Spicy (the rolled up ones in the back,) Regular (in the middle,) and Galbi, or Marinated In Delicious (in front.) Also visible: Hite, a terrible Korean beer.

You barbecue the meat over coals on a setup in the middle of the table, like so:

And you use meat scissors, a lot. I didn't get a picture of the eating, which involves wrapping meat, garlic, onions, bean paste, and a tasty mixture of spring onions and hot sauce into a lettuce or sesame leaf. Lettuce-wrapped giant bacon is good for your health.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spring, spring, spring!


Korea gets very excited about cherry blossoms every spring. I mentioned something about the cherry blossoms in Japan being famous, and my students were shocked that Japan even *had* cherry blossoms. It was as if I told them Japan has four seasons too. I mean, Korea *invented* having four seasons!

For a couple of weeks Jangyu was full of them. I didn't realize that most of the trees that line the streets here are cherry blossom trees until they all exploded in pink.



The blossoms blew away, and now the trees are green and the weather is finally warm. The yellow dust also blew in from China, so my eyes are burning, but spring's still better than winter.