Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fun, fellowship, and festivals

Whew, that last post was kind of a doozy. I'm pleased to report that this one is substantially more light-hearted.

Last week Katie, Jenny, and I stopped in at the foreigner's festival being held near EXPO park. This festival combined an international food event with a hot air balloon extravaganza. Down by the river, there were hot air balloon rides (unfortunately pretty pricey for not going very far), hang-gliding, kites, building model airplanes, and other activities. On Saturday there was a taekwondo demonstration going on with little kids duking it out for an audience. Up higher on the bank, there were tons of booths for different foreign foods (although some were strangely labeled -- the Mexican booth had samosas??). There were so many delicious smells wafting through the air, it was impossible to decide what to eat. We went around collecting free samples, and invested in a couple of choice snacks.

This past Sunday the youth group from the university church took a field trip to Okcheon, where members Winnie and Katie (not YAV Katie) live, to have fellowship time. Okcheon is about 30 minutes out of Daejeon, and is the countryside in comparison. It was nice to get out of the city and see some green! First we stopped to visit a famous historical house where the former president's wife was born. I admit that the names of those people didn't mean much to me, but it was cool to see a large, traditional Korean house where the nobility lived (although it was actually a reconstruction). Afterwards, we went to Winnie's house, which is very close, to hang out. We ate mandu (dumplings) and delicious Korean grapes (juicier than the American kind), and then went outside to learn a trade . . . farming!

Winnie's father grows peanuts and sweet potatoes, and we had a lesson in harvesting them (fortunately, it's not very difficult). We happily yanked the peanut plants up by the roots and scrounged around in the dirt for the potatoes (got some really huge ones, too). The garden itself is very beautiful -- it is located in the house's backyard, and from there you can look out on amazing views of the mountains.

This week, Hannam had its school festival, lasting three days. During this time, there are many fair-like booths set up to sell food and drink, offer entertainment, and award prizes. You can play carnival-style games of chance and try to win big against slim odds. There are also demonstrations going on where the various school clubs show off their skills or otherwise attract people to their group. (The chaplain's office and the students who attend the university church, in particular, had a good thing going in the form of free coffee and homemade waffles with whipped cream and syrup.) The big highlight of the event is the famous Korean singers who come to perform and hold concerts at night. I visited on Wednesday afternoon with some of my Korean friends with whom I'm doing an English-language blog project. Very soon (as soon as she sends it to me), you will be able to read the article Hyojae wrote about it (and what we've written about other Hannam- and Daejeon-related topics) here.

I'll be in Seoul for the weekend with my fellow YAVs, and I hope to post about that trip too! I will also be uploading more pictures when I have more time. Once again, stay tuned, and I would love to hear from you!


  1. What is cooking in the big pot in the first picture? And how are sweet potatoes and peanuts served in Korea? And are the waffles the same as ours?

  2. When I see and hear about life in different parts of the world, I always remember the war years---WW2, the Korean War and Vietnam War marvelling at how countries have survived and progressed. The opportunity to visit Germany after being bombed by Germans during WW2 made a tremendous impression on me. Here's hoping that soon the Middle East and Gulf regions will return to peace and prosperity.

  3. I had to laugh at the strangely labeled food items at the foreigner's festival. When I was in Fiji, the hotel had an "American Breakfast Buffet". One of the items was spaghetti in a basic red sauce. Not something I usually eat for breakfast. I'd like to know what's cooking in the big pot in the first picture, too. :) Are there any foods you miss from home? Do you do most of your own cooking? Are there small grocery stores or is most food bought in open farmer's markets?

    I admire you for immersing yourself in another culture. I took a class in college where we discussed the practice of "anthropologists" popping in to villages for a week to study people, not knowing if what they were viewing was a common activity or a special event.

    I also enjoyed your comments about language. I took Ojibwa in college (American Indian). Every verb is irregular. It was crazy, but a nice diversion from chemistry and math.

    I look forward to your hearing about Seoul!

  4. Your visits to Okcheon and the foreigner's festival at Expo sound like they were fun. I have always wanted to take a ride in a hot air balloon, so if you get a chance and the price is not too high please try it out and let me know what I've been missing.