2 Canadians in Korea

Welcome to our blog. It's designed to give people back home an idea of what it's like living in South Korea and to allow you to follow us on our journey.

I've been blogging a lot of facts and I feel I should say that some of it is copy pasted from books, the internet and the signs that I took pictures of at the tourist site itself.

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mask Museum

We went to a museum in Changwon called the Seongsan Art Hall and it was showing a mask exhibit with masks and other artifacts from all over the world. We saw some really interesting pieces from Tutankhamun to Native American totem poles. If you were wondering what they had for the Canada section, it was a few Chief head dresses and totem poles.

We saw some really nice wood carved masks that were really old, some were interesting, some were not. A few of the masks were half the size of a grown man with detailed carvings on every inch which was really quite amazing.

We found this really cool wood carved chair called the Dogo Chair and it belonged to the Dogon tribe leader in Mali. They carved it out of a big log and again every inch had detail. The back had a very intricate statuete carved in it. Very awsome!

The event was easy to get to and at $3.50 cnd a person (if memory serves me right) it was quite cheap. Angele, Ben and Vanessa went back the next day and made a mask of their own using the arts and crafts they provide for kids. Angele's mask didn't turn out as fancy as Ben's and Vanessa's but I still like hers the most.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Cherry Blossom Festival

We had no idea what the Cherry Blossom Festival was until one day out of no where we were, just like every other day of the week, walking to school and imagine our surprise when we saw what used to be bare trees look like this overnight. As soon as we got to work we asked about the beautiful flowers growing on the trees and that's when we found out what the Cherry Blossom Festival was.
We were told that the best place to be for the festival was in Jinhae which should have been 30 mins away but because of all the traffic it took us a little over 1 hour to get there and we were still not at the centre of the attraction. We walked for about 1 mile through a beautiful town glowing with cherry blossoms. The sad part is that these flowers only last about 2 weeks and sometimes less due to weather. They had bloomed about 1 week before we were there and already they were falling from the trees. With a little wind the pedals from the flowers fly away, my kids call it snowing cherry blossoms. We tried to catch it in action here but it's hard to see.

They also have a hiking trail in Jinhae that is lined with these trees and you can see where the trail goes in the mountain as you see a white cherry blossom line along the mountain. Read more about cherry blossoms here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Festival's Food Options

Where there is a festival, there has got to be food. We managed to find some of the best foods for festivals that we would like to see back in Canada and here are the top 5.
1. Chicken on a stick, taco-gui go-gi in Korean is definitely our favorite. We find it everywhere and there are several stands that are loyal to their daily spots and would know us by name if we spoke Korean. We have blogged about this before but look at the size of these ones. Wow! 52 cm of chicken goodness. Yummy! $1-$2 cnd.
2. Tornado Potato. We don't see this as often but everytime we find someone making these puppies we buy one. They have a spiny tool that cuts the potato in one big spiral then they impale it onto a stick and deep fry it until crispy then they shake off the excess oil and you get to dip it into salty flavoured seasonings like BBQ and cheddar. We have got to make these back home. $1 cnd.
3. Coconut juice stands. Angèle loves these and they are full of coconut juice and lasts quite a while for Angèle. Then we bring the coconut home and she eats the coconut after I break it up. $3 cnd.
4. Crab booths. We have seen several of these guys at big events and we haven't tried any since Angèle doesn't like seafood and I don't think I would like crab without the garlic butter. From what I've seen they don't get much tools to eat this with either.
5. Last but not least, pig roast. They only roast the sides of the pig and we didn't try any yet because we saw them cut the portions for people to buy and they have 50/50 meat and fat. It smells great when we walk by and if they only gave you the good meat we would totally buy some, but they don't...
6. Beer. You can buy beer at just about any booth that sells food or small convenience stores around the festival and you can get a good price if you look around. We were paying $1.50 cnd a can and you can walk around anywhere you want while drinking. The liquor laws are very relaxed here.

Festivities - Cherry Blossom Festival Cont'd

Here are a few more pictures and stories about the Cherry Blossom festival. They shut down several roads around the city's roundabout, which is where the stage was located. Along several streets there were a lot of tents and vendors selling everything from souvenirs to food.
They had more than 1 stage with random singing and little shows throughout the day. However, we were not really impressed with most of these preformances as it seemed more like karaoke.
They had a few advertising stands which would promote a few products or a company and sometimes they would offer samples. For advertising a new store opening or a big sale they often place 2 girls on a 8 foot stage dressed in similar attire (as you see here) and they talk and dance a little to some music playing on big speakers. We also had the pleasure of seeing this same kind of advertising at a small bakery/coffee shop by our house that sells 4 products: a roti bun, coffee, tea and 1 more item. We could hear them from our apartment for several agonizing hours. These girls are present at every new store opening.
This is a game we frequently see at festivities. You place your planks on the numbers you want, then you pick a card out of a tin can and if you covered the number that you picked, you get the prize as described on the plank, which is a kind of sugar candy of various shapes and sizes. We haven't played. Maybe one day...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Jinhae Cherry Blossom Concert

This post has been brewing in my mind for a long time now and I'm finally writing it. In early April, we went to a Cherry Blossom festival in Jinhae, South Korea. The concert part of the festival started at 8pm and finished at 10pm, which seemed very early considering the amount of work they put into the set up, as you can see in the pictures.

We saw all kinds of different groups and most of them were military performances, which really got the crowd going since they are extremely proud of their military. Every male has a mandatory time to serve in the military and when I asked my kids about it they were all really excited and looking forward to doing it, which explains the hype of these performances. They did some marching and gun twirling, which was quite impressive. However, they weren't as synchronised as I thought they would be.

We saw a few traditional performances, such as these 4 guys drumming away. Some of them also twirled big flat wheels (like plates) on sticks and did some tricks, which I'm assuming is a traditional Korean thing.

Nothing beat this Backstreet Boys knockoff group of young, skinny, Korean Sailors. Oh yeah baby! The crowd went wild! They missed a few notes on the singing, although they did pretty good since it was in English. They did however lack the choreographed dance moves. They all just did their own thing up on stage.

Maybe I should have started with this, but the stage set-up was magnificient. It had all the light effects you can think of, topped off with a disco ball. The stage was a great show in itself! We really enjoyed the evening, and everything was free-of-charge, which was also impressive.