Monday, May 10, 2010

Flowers? Flower Festivals!

Flowers come and go every season, every year, yet people still get all excited over them again and again. It's quite endearing to be honest. Makes you want to believe in the good side of mankind, no matter how hard a cynic you may be.

This spring has been the wonkiest spring that I can remember. It caused the flowers and trees to go through identity crises. (Heck, it almost made me go through an identity crisis.)
Flowers were blooming in weird intervals. Festival planners and tour organizers were in full panic mode. I had planned on going to more festivals than I did, but trying to match the timing was such a braintease I sort of gave up in the end.

I never managed to get photos of the cherry blossoms because after two days in bloom during which I was trapped indoors working on papers, rain descended upon the country with pounding vengeance and that was that. Flattened blossoms, meet earth. No photos of cherry blossoms from me.

Did get pictures of maehwa (plum blossoms), though. Made a trip to Gwangyang Maehwa Festival in March. Gwangyang is in Jeollanam-do, the southwestern part of the Korean penisula, and has the beautiful Seomjin river flowing through its heart.

The plum trees lie in clusters on hills and slopes overlooking the river.

An unexpected patch of bamboo woods create some diversity.

Why is Gwangyang famous for its maehwa? It's mostly because of its fruit, the maesil (green plum, equivalent of the Japanese ume), and its jangajji (pickles marinated and fermented in sauce). It is home to Mme. Hong SsangRi's Cheong Maesil farm, the well-known maesil farm that makes jangajji the traditional way.
The farm from afar. You can see the rows and rows of the traditional earthenware jangdok, where the maesil is stored. We were told that there are hundreds of them.

Lunch was bibimbap with maesil sauce. During the festival they had set up a temporary food tent to accomodate all the tourists - thus the food ticket.

The pot of maesil sauce. Spicy and fragrant.

Plain bibimbap with fried egg on top. Add sauce, mix and eat. I was too busy eating to take a pic of the mixed version. (I was very hungry.)

After Gwangyang we headed to Gurye, where sansuyu were in bloom. It started drizzling when we arrived. The blossoms were trying to be a cheery yellow on the grey backdrop. They weren't all in bloom, unfortunately.
Sansuyu remind me of mustard flowers, or those wild flowers which I thought were mustard flowers when I was a kid.

I of course did my regular geeky thing and took doll pictures.

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