Sunday, June 2, 2013

“If we look at the world with a love of life, the world will reveal its beauty to us."

First off, I have to say that is the most stunning spring I have ever seen in my life. I know I was thinking that last year with Georgia being incredibly green, but this is just unbelievable! It is so bright and beautiful! All the flowers' colors are so vivid and vibrant, and they are absolutely everywhere! If there is a tiny space open anywhere there are flowers! I love it! It truly looks like an enchanting, magical flower wonderland!

So, about a month ago I had the opportunity to go to an incredible
festival called the Jindo Miracle Sea Festival. Korea's version of Moses and the parting of the Red Sea. Check out this article from National Geographic! It is really a amazing moment! The sea actually opens up so that you can walk across a "sea road" to the nearby island.

Yes, some people might just think of it as a scientific "tides" thing, but I prefer the magical legend! Many many years ago, the area was being overtaken by tigers and the people needed to escape. They fled to the nearby island, but one woman was left behind. Everyday she prayed to the god of the ocean for her to be reunited with her family. The god told her in a dream that a rainbow would appear in the sea to cross the ocean. The next day she went out to the sea and it miraculously parted, and the rainbow road appeared. Pretty cool, right?

Anyway, this was a really fun day! There were the usual street food stands and craft/hand-made product vendors, but this time they had  booths each representing a different country. It was neat to see goods/foods from places such as Thailand, India, Ecuador, etc. There were several unique musical performances as well. This was the biggest festival I'd been to so far, and the most crowded! It was chock full of foreigners and Koreans everywhere!
It was such an experience to trek through the water with everyone. And completely bizarre to look around and take in the fact you are in the middle of the sea!

The following day was the Namwon Chunhyang Festival. It's said that this is the oldest festival in Korea.  Namwon is called the "city of love."  This festival is all based around Korea's legendary love story and folklore. It is similar to that of Romeo and Juliet, but with a happy ending.

The festival and city was beautiful! So many bright colors in both the decorations and flowers, and the gorgeous warm sunny day made for a wonderful experience!

The following weekend, I went to 2 more festivals. First was the Hampyeong Butterfly Festival. It was so great! It was held in an insect-themed park with butterfly decorations, various large bug figures scattered throughout, and flowers all over the place! There were a couple exhibition halls with butterfly crafts, insect exhibits and art, hands-on activities, and different interactive ways to see and learn about nature, ecology, and these delicate little creatures.
This festival also had several greenhouses to wander through. There was one filled with succulents, another with pumpkins, gourds, and squash hanging, and a couple with other various plants and flowers. The detail they incorporate into these greenhouses is exquisite! They have miniature life scenes, stone walkways, streams and waterfalls! It's so cute! And of course there was a butterfly one. The temperature was that of a tropical rain forest, the exotic flowers, interesting plants, and fluttering wings surrounding you. It felt like you'd stepped into a magical butterfly fairy tale!

The second festival of that weekend was the Damyang Bamboo Festival. It was so cool! I started off exploring the festival area. There were tons of activities and exhibits showcasing both the beauty and function of this plant. There were bamboo boat rides on the river, bamboo basket fishing, places to make candles and water guns out of bamboo, sports involving bamboo, baskets, hats, natural soaps, bamboo wine, and jewelry. There was also a cultural center building that displayed the weaving process of different items, numerous bamboo products, and a few local food samples.

 The best part though was the huge bamboo forest! It was a really dense forest with meandering pathways and bamboo as far, wide, and high as the eye could see! It felt as if I'd stepped into another world. As I wandered through this maze of bright green, I made a couple stops for a refreshing bamboo flavored ice cream (or 2), chilled with some pandas (only little statues unfortunately), and checked out a bamboo culture village (traditional houses, fan making, drums).

Following the festival, I met up with one of the travel groups and rode with them to a nearby park for some hiking. It was as if I jumped into a picture painted with only the brightest green possible. It looked seriously unreal! There were several waterfalls along the way, a river parallel to the trail with crystal clear water, hundreds of rock towers, and a pretty scary suspension bridge about 250 ft long and about 165 ft high. I conquered my fears though, whew! and crossed it (twice!!).

got the lovely sandal tan happening
This trail is known for the hikers trekking it barefoot because of it's healing powers for your feet. It's a sandy path with some rocks along the way and a few river crossings. I did it on the way back since I had more time and freedom as the big group had already left on their bus. It was the perfect nature-infused end to this fantastic festival-filled weekend!


P.S. A few weeks ago I finally sat down and learned how to read and write in Hangul (the Korean alphabet), I'm pretty excited about that!

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