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Saturday, 14 April 2007

Yeuoido Spring Flower Festival--first attempt

Spring is here in South Korea...almost. Every year around this time thousands of Koreans and fans of cherry blossoms flock to Yeouido Park to check out the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival, or the Cherry Blossom Festival. Add live entertainment, miscellaneous street vendors, millions of people with their digital cameras, and what will you get? A good time of course!

The festival runs from April 1-15 starting on Yunjungno Avenue, right behind the Korean National Assembly. When you have over 1400 cherry blossom trees in full bloom over a 6km stretch, people go crazy and flock here as fast as they can, like it was the first day McDonald's in Korea started breakfast (okay, bad example). Last week we decided to check out the festival in its first weekend at the peak time in the late afternoon--bad decision!

When you have everybody and their monkey's uncle flocking down to Yeouido, it can get quite difficult to navigate through the crowds. During one stretch of road leading up to the official front entrance of the festival (they shut down the road to vehicles) it was probably the busiest I've seen so far in Seoul (Myeongdong at peak times would rival this). Battling the crowds is definitely not in my top 10 list of favorite things to do.

However, if you want to be truly evil, I have a couple aces up my sleeve that work like a charm when it comes to navigating through crowds. Normally, when two people are walking towards each other, both parties move slightly to pass. That is not always the case. Some people just walk like they are in a trance and refuse to move. This bothers me a bit so what I do is either play chicken and let them hit me and over exaggerate the contact--their reaction can be priceless; or I walk and point to the sky with my elbow in front of me. You don't feel like moving today? Have fun meeting my little friend, Mr. Elbow! This has been tried, tested and true in Hong Kong, Richmond, and now Seoul! Muahhaha!

Here is the main entrance to the festival. The road is closed off to traffic...to reduce the annual carnage levels:

Let's get a little bit closer...as you can see there are lots of people here with their cameras:

People will take every opportunity for a snapshot as long as there are some sort of cherry blossoms in the background (and mini vans; check out some female Korean fashion while you're at--mini skirts and knee high heeled boots. If you're not wearing high heels of any sort, you are pulling a fashion faux pas):

One of two stages setup for performances. We just missed the end of a performance but I'm A Seoul Man is lucky to be living next door to all the action:

We can't forget about some street vendor love...first up, cotton candy from the back of a scooter:

Ghetto-looking ice cream scooped from the wheelie cart of a masked-face Korean ajuma:

...and last, but not least, the sloppy seconds of a tub full of...just what are these things roasted silk worm pupa, or beon-dae-gi (번데기) (thanks suddenly susan!)? Someone help me out here (this is Fear Factor-esque):

Let's get onto the cherry blossoms...aren't they oh-so-pretty?

A little closer...

Remember how I mentioned the jam-packed street leading up the entrance? Take a look at the picture below. What made it worse was the fact that there were bus stop lined up along the entire street. So when you have hundreds of people at a stand still on the sidewalk, walking past them can be quite difficult.

Cue the video...this is not walking, it's more like taking baby steps:

See these people crossing the street? In about ten seconds or so you'll be watching a video of us blending in with the crowds. Notice how the cops have whistles that people tend to ignore, especially when the light is RED. Watch for the couple that gets turned away right at the end...priceless!

Read, set, action!

This was a good glimpse of the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival but I was determined to go back a second time to take some more pictures and see some more sights. You'll have to wait for second time around I was more successful and it wasn't as busy. So stay tuned for more!


suddenly susan said...

that fear factor meal is beon-gae-gi (roasted silk worm pupa). i find the smell vile but many people love munchin' on it as a snack. it's supposed to be high in protein.

acurrie said...

I believe the Korean term is pondegi:


Eva Karrin McKinnon said...

MMM silk worm pupa. I was served the little guys at a bar once. The smell was awful.

No- I didn't check out the festival but Hiroko and Min did. They were put off by the crowd- which you certainly captured through your lens!

Actually, when Hiroko saw the blossoms on the grounds of the National cemetery, she wished they had admired them there, instead.

No car show for you this weekend, Monsieur GDog?

Gary said...

susan: Yeah, the smell makes me want to hurl. It's nasty but people love them. Thanks for the term, post updated.

AC: Thanks for the close up pic!

Eva: Bonjour mademoiselle, Yeouido has lots of blossoms but the layout isn't that great for pictures. Too much concrete and cars. I'll have to check out the National Cemetary one day.

Today is the last day for the car show. I should've went but I didn't have much time. Darn!

LSteenblik said...

I want to go too! I'm finally in korea now - and I don't want to miss the cherry blossoms =D

Is your email the one on the sidebar? :)

LSteenblik said...

I want to go to! I'm finally in Korea now and I don't want to miss the cherry blossoms.

Is your email the one on the sidebar?

Gary said...

Lily: Yep, that's the one!

suddenly susan said...

oops! i meant to write beon-dae-gi(번데기). sorry for the typo.

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