Friday 8th April, 2011
I'm feeling quite lonely without my sidekick Jenny and the weather hasn't been too charming unfortunately. So I'm feeling abit down about everything and I'm missing home too. And my dogs... and creme eggs. Hmmmm.
I woke up this morning and the streets were wet. It had been raining for the past two days and all night and it seemed cold outside. I told Daniel I really wanted to go to the Cherry Blossom Festival but only if it cleared up. The Cherry Blossom Festival is a week long celebration in the city of Jinhae (???) The town is best known as home to the world?s largest number of flowering cherry trees, or beotkkot namu (?? ??). For only a few short weeks each spring, an estimated 340,000 trees burst into a virtual sea of pale-pink blossoms. This was something I was NOT going to miss!
I love Cherry Blossom trees so much, that Daniel and I bought my mum one for her birthday a few years ago. It now lives in my front yard at home and she flourishes every spring.
While Daniel headed downstairs for breakfast, I decided to eat alittle later. I've been trying to get rid of this annoying cold I've had for a few days now, so I decided to have abit of a lay down. I dooded off, eventually waking up at 9.11am. I got up, checked my emails and then headed downstairs for a quick snack.
I came back up to my room and looked outside. It was still very much overcast, but I could see that the sun was trying to poke it's sunshine out between the clouds. I waited for around an hour to make my decision. The streets were drying up and I could feel the air was getting warm. I was going to the Festival! I quickly got ready, packed my camera and a water bottle and asked the reception girl if she could write Jinhae, Cherry Blossom Festival in Korean for me. With the note in my hand I flagged down the first cab and away he took me...
I was keen to just lay back and enjoy the 15 minute ride to Jinhae, but turns out, my cabby driver was eager to test his English speaking skills on me. Arghhh, just my luck. Turns out he, Yun Lim, studied English for 6 years all up, went to University, worked for the Coca-Cola company here in Korea and now he drives cabs for a living. Once he found out I was from Sydney, Australia, he wanted to know everything! From the Opera House to the beaches, he was not going to let me have a quiet ride. He kept complimenting me and saying how nice the girls and guys were at the beaches, you know with the 'beautiful' bodies, curving his hands as he said this. I just kept saying 'yeh, yeh' and thinking- get me out of this cab NOW....
We finally reached my destination and he pointed in which direction to walk in. We pulled over at a huge round about and there were four entry points, so I'm not too sure which way he meant for me to go in. Hahaha. Anyway. Atleast he was nice and got me here safely. With that, I said thanks and started making my way to the market stalls.
It was still early, I arrived just after 11.30am and there were only a few people around. The first thing I noticed were the horse drawn carriages!!! My god I was happy. These were the first ever horses I'd seen in South Korea. I absolutely love horses, so this was a nice way to fill in the void of missing home. They were so cute and neighed as they stood in line to take people around. The markets here are huge and go on forever. If you like markets, you should definately come to Jinhae for the Cherry Blossom Festival. You will find every single stall imagineable. Clothes, food- sweets and fresh seafood, toys, furniture, pottery, jewellery, just to name afew. I found some interesting things- dried squid which Koreans snack on and the big pig cooking on the rotisserie. It smelt soooooo good.
As I was walking through the markets I noticed a stall that was selling South American items, such as musical instruments and art work. I walked over to have a closer look and got talking to the seller. I introduced myself and told him I was Chilean and it was nice to see something I was familiar with. Turns out he was Peruvian, living in Seoul and him and his friends put this stall up. He is a musician and would be playing a set in a few minutes. I hang around to listen to a couple of songs and watched a crowd gather to watch him. He played beautifully and made me think about Chile and home. Yup, I was really feeling home sick!
After I left him, I continued to walk through the stalls until I reached the start of the steps, which take you up to the Janhaetap Observatory Tower. I decided to go up and see the view of the city from above. Ohhhh what a climb. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate going up stairs? After several stops (mainly to take photos, or to admire the view, that's the excise I'm using) and 365 steps later, I made it to the top, which was really just the base of the Observatory. I took about 20 minutes to get my breath back and have a good drink of water. It was beautiful. The entire observatory tower was surrounded by forest and cherry blossom trees. They also had animal sculptures just outside the entrance to the tower. I sat on a bench to just take it all in, but I was interrupted by a little girl, getting all excited and pointing into the forest. I got my camera ready, preparing myself to capture a bird, but as I zoomed in I couldn't believe it! I was looking at a little Korean Squirrel!!!! Ever since I was made aware that Korea had squirrels, I was dying to see one and here, today, my prays had been answered. I just couldn't believe it. I clicked away and just stared at this little guy. He looked more bad-ass then his American counterparts. He was a darker brown colour and had spiky little fur on his head, almost like a mohawk. He was just the cutest thing ever! I can truly say my stay in Korea is now complete. Just as he magically appeared, my little furry friend, made a quick getaway, climbing and jumping the trees like a little acrobat. He totally made my day.
As I stared at the Observatory Tower, I was really hoping there was an elevator to reach the top. As I walked inside, with my fingers crossed, voila!!! I saw an elevator. I happily pressed the up button and waited. It didn't take long to reach the 8th floor. You could go higher, but you would have to use the steps. I stepped outside onto the balcony and my gosh, what a view. You could see the entire city of Jinhae and beyond I reckon! The day really cleared up and there was only a slight breeze, which made it very comfortable to be so far up. I was able to take some amazing photos of the view. Walking up the stairs was definately worth it. To go back down, you could either take the sky carriage or walk back down the same way. I decided to walk. I was on a roll and going down is always easier then going up!
Once I was back down, it was around 1pm and lunch time was long over due! I didn't know what to have! there was way to much food to choose from. I settled on a corn stick. I love having these back home, but they seem to taste different here in Korea. It was kind of rubbery and didn't have much taste to it! I was a bit disappointed, but finished it anyway. As I got up ready to leave, I saw that the police officers were gathering together to have a meeting. I assumed they were getting ready to patrol the streets and keep the crowds in check. A mini concert had started in the middle of the round about and had already attracted a decent size audience. Who knows what they were singing, but it sounded good! By this stage I was just walking around and taking photos until I spotted the coconut stand! Back in Cambodia, all I wanted to do, was drink from a coconut, but I missed out and here I was in Korea and I could complete my dream!!! I was so on to it. I went over and for W3,000 I got my sweet coconut juice, complete with a straw. After my coconut, I deserved some ice cream and so I got a strawberry cone from the Cream Fairy stall. The icecream was super soft and fluffy- yum, yum, yum! So far I was having a great day. I was seeing some great and wonderful things. It's amazing how much fun you can have on your own.
I was getting ready to go home, so I started heading to the Jinhae Train Station. I figured there would be cabs waiting on hand. Before the crossing, there was another South American band playing some native music. It was beautiful. They had flutes, whistles, drums and rain sticks and wearing their native costumes. I had a moment of 'where am I??' I was confident I was in South Korea, but at the Cherry Blossom Festival I had seen more South American food and acts than what I expected to!! Totally unexpected, but so good. Although I was missing home, to be able to talk to people from my country and speak in Spanish was as good as being home with my family. I watched them play and afterwards I went over congratulated them on a great set. They were so lovely and I learnt that they were from Ecuador and had been living in South Korea for the past two years. They travelled around the country doing festivals and show casing their talents. I soon said my goodbyes to them. I had an absolutely wonderful day in Jinhae. I totally recommend visiting Jinhae for the Cherry Blossom Festival. (Spring- April 1 to April 10,
When I got back to the hotel, I had a package waiting for me from my mum. My day just got better and better. Love you mum! x