Friday, May 31, 2013

South Korea Day 41: Busan International Firework Festival 2012

So this is another backdated post. Last post on South Korea! Finally the last agenda before we took a long bus ride from Busan to Incheon International Airport. Busan International Firework Festival 2012 held at the infamous Gwanggali Beach, Haeundae Busan. It was an amazing annual event, just that we arrived late (didn't get to have closer view) and it was raining cats and dogs, was practically poked by umbrellas most of the time wtf 

 Busan is the second largest city after Seoul. Photos are not as good as professionals because I was hiding my (lousy when taking photo in low light) camera from the pouring rain most of the time and caught nothing much except umbrellas and the roof of the temporary camp because we stood by the roadside. We were really far from the bridge where the fireworks were set up. It was really beautiful but our view was blocked. Many people came late (after dinner) so we decided to leave earlier when it got really cramp.



With our drenched look, we went off for dinner and settle at a restaurant near our hotel. I can't help but to order one of my favourite Korean cuisine, the Spicy Stir Fried Pork. Here we experience something weird where the workers in the restaurant were having verbal fight. It was scary cause they were yelling to each other even though there were other customers >.<

The next day we settle for Korean BBQ Fried Chicken as brunch and went around Haeundae beach! ^^

That's all for Korea's post! *phew*
Next post shall be on the Koh Samui/ Philippines :)

Below are all the links to my 41 days in Korea :

With Love,
Mei Lin

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

South Korea Day 25-39: WWOOF Korea @ Gyeongsangnam-do, Changwon

안녕하세요! It has been a long time since I blogged regularly, studies and other side activities have definitely taken up all my free time. Most of the time I just prefer to watch some movies or series then set myself to rest to regain back my energy.

Almost 2 years are going to pass since I went to South Korea for WWOOF Korea, now for the last farm. We stayed here for 2 weeks, which is why I took very, or extremely long time to blog about this farm because I hate picking less than a hundred photos from thousands. I took almost 600 photos from this farm, excluding a few hundreds which were given to me by the host family (taken by them). So this post is going to be pictures heavy, even after sorting for what's necessary to explain what we did, and of course the magnificent scenery! 

For almost 2 years, these may not be the vivid memories of WWOOF in Changwon but it is one of the best travel memories. This is also where we made many friends, and interacted more with the other volunteers rather than the host families. 

The host at Dagam Farm 단감, Changwon is Mr. Kang (we actually added all our host Dad on Facebook! They are all tech savvy like that ^^). Dagam Farm is a large scale Persimmon Farm, they also supply paddy, strawberries, potatoes and other side products. When I contacted Mr. Kang before we flew to Korea, we arranged a date for only a week and initially decided on 4 farms, 1 week each. However Mr. Kang said that Dagam Farm will be having Sweet Persimmon festival which is held yearly and 2011 was their 100th anniversary. So for this festival, they need more volunteers to help. We thus decided to extend our stay till the 2 days festival ends. We were however, unlucky to not able to stay till the harvesting period. At Dagam Farm, we met many other volunteers compared to other farms, particularly because of the large scale production. We met Phillips from Canada, Yoko from Hong Kong and many other Korean University students volunteers for the festival, all of whom you will see in the photos below ^^ 

Though with tough working hours, almost 12 hours a day, the colleagues make it less tiring. Probably because of the Sweet Persimmon Festival, the job scope is very different from other WWOOF farms and different from as described in the WWOOF guide book. Most of the time we were farm guides to visitors who come to visit. They can be a young as kintergarden students aged 5 to 6 and as old as grandparents aged 70 and above. It was really a great experience. Most of the time we were guided by senior Korean workers/volunteers as we do not interact with the host directly.

From Farm 2 at Jeollanam-do, we took a bus to Gyeongsangnam-do, Changwon bus station. And from Changwon bus station, the host picked us up. For more information about WWOOF Korea or Dagam Farm in particular as host family, can just drop me an email kuehmeilin[at]gmail[dot]com. Now let the pictures do the explanations! Posted photos are all taken with my camera, however with the need of 2 working hands, I only brought out my camera when we are more free than other days ^^ 

Dagam Farm, the first visitors we had when we arrived were little kids. We guided them to the Persimmon Farm and helped them with picking the Persimmon fruits :)

One of the many types of persimmon is the heart shaped Persimmon. In Malaysia, Persimmon fruits are only imported and are considered expensive fruits. We were lucky to be able to eat Persimmons everyday!
The kids were given short explanation about Persimmon fruits production
Though it was not harvesting period, some of the fruits were ripe faster than expected. We had to harvest the fruits before they get over ripe and being attacked by pests. Note to self: Persimmons are really heavy fruits!
This is the Restaurant or 식당. This is were we had our lunch most of the time. In the program for the visitors, they visit the farm a whole day and lunch was provided. While the visitors had their lunch here, we had ours too! And our accommodation, which is the guest house was just behind the 식당 (not in picture).
Paddy plantation at Dagam Farm. Since the field is really wide, the view at Dagam is really nice! Archery is a traditional sport for Korean, which is why this is called Traditional Archery field.
This fencing was for the Rabbits! It was a very tragic case for the rabbit when we stayed there. If I recall carefully, the day after the fencing was made (in preparation for the festival), the host bought 10 rabbits. The rabbits tried to escape by burrowing holes under the fence. There were 10 rabbits and 8 small ones escaped, left with 2 larger ones which cannot escape through the small burrowed holes. All the 8 were missing. We found 2-3 horribly torn bodies, which were most probably killed by the dogs in the neighborhood. Others escaped into the paddy field nearby and we spent whole day trying to catch them but they were too fast. I am not sure whether they still have this rabbit area today after the tragic lost >__<
Kids playing the Korean famous game, the "Chicken Fight". Am sure you know about this game if you watched Running Man. The last man standing Kim Jongkook :D
Not a really nice outfit for the pretty view but I must say, the air felt so much fresher here. With the Autumn breeze which I dearly miss
We wore rubber boots most of the time because once in a while we will be at the farm and since my sneakers was white, I would rather walk around in these than dirtying my one and only white sneakers
Preparing for Autumn :)
This is the store room. Nicely painted by WWOOF Korea volunteers from Singapore who were volunteers at Dagam farm before we arrived :)
This is the office building! It is really unique, like a mini countryside house. From the balcony, the view is the wide Paddy Field and the host family main house.

We get to experience how the Korean traditional snack (puffed rice) "Ppeong Twi Gi" 뻥튀기 is made, everyday! We even helped out with the process, by turning the machine and filling in the container of rice :P But even for Koreans, not many get to experience this process.
Free 뻥튀기 for the kids! And if you are wondering why they got their ears covered, it's because it creates a very loud "Bang!" when the lid is open, which also explains the smoke from the machine and the puffed rice spilling all over the floor.
Dagam Farm is a Star Farm! And proud that we were there :)
In preparation for the festival, we also did some furniture works. The guys handmade all these tables and we girls had them painted.
Another view of the farm. This is the small shop selling all kinds of Persimmon products :)
Mrs. Kang or our host mum gave us a bottle of Sweet Persimmon Ice Wine!
Autumn coming~
Another view of the farm. This is where they kept and preserve the Kimchi.

There was one day where there were not many visitors so we didn't eat at the restaurant but host family bought us pack Bibimbap 비빔밥. I love Korean food delivery, they can deliver anything and still at perfect condition :)
This is one of the puppy at the farm, very playful :D
View of the Sweet potatoes 고구마 before they were harvested. Searching and harvesting for 고구마 is also a new experience to us! We did it at Farm 1 too but this farm is bigger!
Teaching the kids on how to make rice cakes!
We made rice cakes too! And now I'm craving for Rice cakes >__<
We also had some fun! Saw the kids playing with these and we asked them where they got these, apparently there was a tree with this spiky seeds near the restaurant. So we picked some and decorated the shoes and cap Lol
There were visitors from UNESCO. They came to visit the farm and this is the traditional house "Hanok" 한옥 which is installed with heated floor "Ondol" 온돌. We were also lucky that we were able to stay in a 한옥 were not many Koreans youngsters get to experience. Note: Heated floor also alternative to clothes dryer during rainy season :D
Since Phillips (WWOOF volunteer from Canada) is able to converse in French and also have good understanding in Korean, he was the translator for the host and representatives from UNESCO. If I am not mistaken, Phillips stayed at Dagam Farm for a month :)
We followed them and get to witness Paddy harvesting
And the rep riding the Paddy harvest machine :D
I took advantage of the scenery
Hangul 한글 wallpaper, must take photo :D

More kids picking Sweet Persimmons. Most of them were too little so we had to help them pluck the fruits. But once you help them pluck one, they will follow you everywhere and look at you with puppy eyes *so cute!!* And they are so competitive, they want more than their friends' even though their plastic bags were already full >__<
And sitting behind lorries ain't so bad given the nice weather :)
These are teenagers visitors. Auntie here showing how to remove the grains from the paddy plant using the machine.
Since Archery is a traditional game, we did archery! I've never done so much archery in my entire life. We did archery almost everyday for almost 2 weeks, but I didn't get any better, though I no longer miss the board :D
Also one of the traditional Korean game
With the Auntie and Korean school girls who were also volunteers during the Sweet Persimmon festival
"I made soap!" LOL
Another Korean traditional game during the festival
After the festival ended, the guys played soccer, under the rain Lol. The match was between the high schoolers and the volunteers
In action!
We also had briefing before and after the festival to make sure everything goes well. These are the other volunteers, mostly are high school students and they called us Eonnie (*^__^*)
During days which were more free, we went to nearby town and had Pizza, bought some bakery food from Paris Baguette, how I miss that bakery. Koreans usually don't eat Breakfast outside so this is where we got our breakfast when we were in Seoul
Then we went for some entertainment
Korean men seemed to love playing Pool or Billiard a lot! I see lots of these places around :)
Star jump!
There was a day where I got change in appetite and decided to ditch rice (though I am called the Rice Queen Lol). Koreans eat rice for every main meal, even for breakfast. So that day we went for some Fried chicken!
Ppeong Twi Gi 뻥튀기!
WWOOF Korea: After the Sweet Persimmon Festival, we were quite free so we went around taking photos.

With Mr. Kang, our host Dad. He is a really friendly person. And he said his brother in law works for SM Entertainment so he got SNSD albums for free, which is true cause we saw some limited editions at his house. But we are YG Entertainment supporters so not much of a hype there. Just...he saw SNSD closed up in person *jealous*
Removing the beans from the plant. With Mrs. Kang (squatting) and Yoko (in blue) ^^
Mr. Kang went to a meeting somewhere further downtown, like a hour drive and since we were free, we were asked to tag along. Get to visit another Hanok. And this one is 2 floors Hanok built as traditional heritage in the village.
Even door also traditional :)
Dried Sweet Persimmon are yummeh too!

Sweet Persimmon Festival Supporter!
Sorted Sweet Persimmons

With Yoko and Mr. Kang
I miss the Autumn weather~
Mr. Kang also brought us to visit a bigger farm away from Dagam. It is located at a hilly area and the Persimmons covered almost the whole hill!
Our last meal with Farm 3 was Jajjiangmyeon 자장면! All the host families seemed to know that we love Jajiangmyeon :D
There was an after party after the Sweet Persimmon Festival, lots of Soju & Mekju that night. There was also Karaoke session. Let's let this photo be the only photo for the night and the rest kept private and memories remain as memories :P

With other volunteers Bora, Minji and Yoko, group photo before we left.
And finally with the Auntie who was really nice to us!

That's all for Farm #3 WWOOF Korea 2011. The final Korea post will be on Busan International Fireworks Festival! But before that I might want to complete Thailand Part II and Philippines trip in just single post.  

Till then! Below are links to my 41 days in Korea (except Day 41):

South Korea Day 1: (Jeju) Manjanggul Lava Tube, Maze Garden, Seongsan Ilchubong
South Korea Day 2: (Jeju) Yongduam Rock, Loveland, Oedolgae Rock
South Korea Day 3: (Seoul) Gyeongbukgong Secret Garden, Dongdaemun
South Korea Day 4: (Seoul) Gyeongbukgong, Folk's Museum, Insadong, Namsan Tower
South Korea Day 5: (Seoul) 63 Builing-Wax Museum, Myeongdong
South Korea Day 6: (Seoul) Yeolbong @ Gangnam, Little France
South Korea Day 7: (Seoul) YG Building, Hongdae Night Market
South Korea Day 8-15: WWOOF Korea #1 @ Gangwon-do Naetgang Village
South Korea Day 16: (Gangwon-do) Mount. Seorak, Seoraksan National Park
South Korea Day 17-24: WWOOF Korea #2 @ Jeollanam-do, Jangheung
South Korea Day 25-39: WWOOF Korea #3 @ Gyeongsangnam-do, Changwon
South Korea Day 40: (Busan) Hallyu Beach Concert 2012 @ Gwanggali Beach
South Korea Day 41: (Busan) Busan International Firework Festival 2012 @ Gwanggali Beach
With Love,
Mei Lin