In Korea, there is a festival for every thing.
Each city has a festival featuring whatever it is for which they are famous. In Gwangju, we have the kimchi festival since our region of the country is considered to have the best kimchi.
In Andong there is the mask dance festival. In Boryeong there is a mud festival. In Busan there is a film festival. In Muju there is a firefly festival. And the list goes on and on. And on.
These festivals have proven to be an amazing way for foreigners to experience Korean culture. And early on, Whit and I realized that events were the easiest and most fun way to learn about our new home.
This weekend, we went to yet another one of these fabulous festivals. This time, in nearby Hampyeong–just 45 minutes from Gwangju–where we visited the Hampyeong Flower Festival. Autumn is not only the season for leaf-peeping, but also for mums.
Mums are EVERYWHERE right now in Korea. Our entire school yard is a field of mums and buzzing bees. Restaurants welcome every patron with the smell of bright orange mums while you slip off your shoes at the front door. And they line businesses along busy thoroughfares.
But in Hampyeong, mums cover entire hillsides to the entrance of this famous flower festival. Lucky for us, my sweet yoga teacher who speaks maybe five words in English took it upon herself to take Whit and me and two other foreign girls in our yoga class to the festival on Saturday. She bought us tickets, drove us there, and then took us to lunch. Yet another Korean angel in our lives here.
It was yet another great festival, where we saw mum statues of everything from the Eiffel Tower and Barack Obama and the famous gate in Seoul that burned down last year to male body parts that old Korean women walked by pointing and giggling. (Seriously. Asians have quite a curious infatuation with phallic symbols.)
We even got to hold the creepy beetles that all our students have as pets. The kind of beetle that just creeps you out and no doubt about it could survive a nuclear holocaust.