Bokbunja & Black Raspberry Festival!

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I took an Adventure Korea tour to see the Black Raspberry Festival in Geochang. Activities included picking berries & drinking the berry wine, touring the festival grounds (including live eel catching), a dance party, and shellfish collecting.

Basically, the 45 foreigners provided live  entertainment for the small town of Geochang for the entire weekend. We were followed everywhere by Koreans and their cameras. An amusing weekend, indeed.

After a 3-hour bus ride from Seoul, we landed in Geochang. We began the day by enjoying some traditional Korean games and sampling the local black raspberries, one of Geochang's best-known exports.

Playing a traditional Korean game,
throwing upright arrows into kimchi pots
Laura enjoys some hand-picked
black raspberries in the greenhouse

Next, we took a covered tractor ride and sipped on some delightful black raspberry smoothies! We watched the passing rice fields and mountains in comfort and awe.

Tractor ride

Black raspberry smoothies and a covered trolley ride - nice way to beat the heat!

Worker in the rice fields

After our refreshments, we took another short drive to a nearby temple. We strolled through the woods, on a cool footpath beside the river, and we could see the locals busy farming and fishing.

Ladies looking for fresh water shellfish and seaweed to sell or eat

Me, touring the temple grounds

After a nice visit, we finally made our way to the festival grounds. First, we had the eel-catching competition for foreigners. Any interested contestants were told to enter a large inflatable pool filled with black-raspberry-coloured water. When ready, the organizers emptied bags of live eels into the tub! We had to catch the eels with our bare hands, and any we caught, we could eat. it took me about 10 minutes, but I caught one!

Me, actually jumping for joy after catching a live eel with my bare hands!

With some tasty eel in our tummies, we toured the rest of the grounds, snacking and photo-snapping. We tried the variety of black-raspberry-themed drinks and snacks, including bokbunja, a famous Korean black raspberry wine.

Deep-fried ginseng root. Delish!

Bokbunja, with a twist: soju cocktail, makkeoli, beer, and wine, all made with bokbunja

Exhausted and happy, we made our way to the hotel. That evening, our tour group was treated to a free bokbunja wine and dance party, and all the locals were out to celebrate, too!

Free bokbunja? Don't mind if I do!

Cheers! Laura and I enjoy some bokbunja at the local dance party

Bokbunja wine & dance party in the tent, tourists and locals welcome!

A lovely evening was passed and all too soon it was the next day. For our final leg of the journey, we made our way to some mudflats to do some shellfish-digging, in the traditional Korean way. We drove on a large tractor out to the flats, and were given rubber boots and baskets with which to do our dirty work. It was a fun day's effort, and we were sent home with our catch to enjoy at home.

Adventure Korea tour group snap at the shellfish-digging mudflats

All in all, a wonderful trip and an eye-opening experience. Yet another fun-filled weekend in the ROK!

(Author's note: This blog was posted December 27, 2011, but the trip took place June 12-13, 2010)

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Busan, South Korea
I'm a lucky young woman who has had the wonderful opportunity to live and travel in South Korea. My time here has taken me all over the country, and my blog follows those adventures. Enjoy!
You can also find my wiritng on The Korea Blog, the official blog of the government of Korea



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