Now, "festivals" in Korea always sound a lot cooler than they actually are. This is just a warning.
I figured that the flower festival would be the perfect time for my friends to see my fair city at it's finest. So, Rachael, Lauren and Jen ("Lajal," "Rauran" and "Jenn-ee-pah" according to my host family) made their ways from Mokpo, Hwasun (near Gwangju) and Gwangju, respectively, to Gurye.
Rachael and Lauren stayed with my Friday night. Their first impression of my host family? My brother jumping out from behind the apartment door and yelling, "Boo!" in his underwear. Yeah, I don't think he was expecting my two friends.
We went to the festival on Saturday (Jen came in Saturday morning). Honestly, I was expecting a tent with a potted plant to be the festival, but, it turns out, it was actually quite a spread. Lots of food and random vendors (leggings, fanny packs, sharp knives, tea) surrounded a large stage, where people performed, largely, traditional musical pieces (samulnori [drums], traditional string instruments, etc). I've never seen so many 아줌마's = old women - in such a concentrated area.
There were also horses, which, naturally, I was drawn to. They were giving rides to kids and doing equestrian performances. They were really good!
Oddly enough, the only thing lacking from the festival were actual flowers. We didn't really see any. I think the festival is more of a "spring is coming" festival rather than an actual exhibit of flowers. While I did not go, I know that they had a children's art competition/exhibit on Sunday that was flower-related. You could also make little lotus lanterns.
After an hour or so of walking around, we decided to end on a good note and head for home. Here are some pictures of our adventures.
Lauren/Rauren sporting an edgy new hat "유행" look for all of those young ladies over 70 still farming
Lauren and Jen on an exercise "machine." The circle plates spin, so you kind of spin your lower body while keeping your torso straight (Lauren = correct, Jen = incorrect). We're all pretty sure that the machine does nothing in terms of muscular fitness, but it does stretch (a little), and it's pretty fun. These kind of machines are everywhere in Korea. I like to play on them, but there's usually a long line of seniors.
A samulnori performance (not on the stage, obviously). They were performing "The Time for Flowers." It was really pretty. Their hats are suppose to be flowers.
Actually, a few weeks ago, I was walking home from school and nearly got run over by a parade of these people running into a convenience store. They were in full costume (with those silly flower hats and everything). And me, not knowing (like always) what the hell was going on, just kind of sighed, shrugged my shoulders and tried to tell myself that Koreans living in America are probably just as confused and scared when walking past a Wal-Mart.
Lauren and Jen left a little later to meet people in different cities, but Rachael stayed the night. (Jae-gyeong, the younger brother, was also having a sleepover! Three 10-year olds that kept saying, "I love you, Amy," and pronounced Rachael's name as "Lazer.") We decided to bake!
For those that don't know, I discovered this past week that my family has a toaster oven. I did a trial bake of chocolate chip cookies with complete success (24 cookies disappeared into the bellies of (essentially) 3 people in a matter of 2 hours). So, using peanut butter cookie and brownie mixes sent from home, Rachael and I baked.
We learned that brownies cannot be cooked in a toaster oven. Oh well, better to have tried and failed than to have never known.
We salvaged what we could of the brownies (burned on the top, uncooked on the bottom). We both thought they tasted fine...but, then again, we haven't had a real brownie in 8 months.
Naturally, my host mom served the cookies and brownies at breakfast the next morning, where she told me the family thought that the brownies looked like "dung."
Oh well, more for me!! :)
So, that was my wild weekend in Gurye. It was actually pretty fun. I'm glad that some ETAs were brave enough to venture into my little farm village.