Thursday, April 29, 2010

Adventure Korea Trip, part 2: 나비 축제

The butterfly hill
When we left our story, the other intrepid Korean adventurers and I had called it a night at the Motel Boom after an excellent hike and some yummy galbi. The large portions didn't treat me so well, but by morning I was ready to go again!

Sunday was the 나비 (Nabi, meaning Butterfly) Festival, in a town called Hampyeong. The festival seems to be famous enough that my volleyball friends (from a different part of the country) knew about it, and the town even has a giant butterfly design on its hill!

When we got off the bus, we were introduced to one unique aspect of this visit: we had paparazzi! At least three photographers and a whole camera news crew would be following our group around for the festival,
The butterfly greenhouse.
taking promotional pictures and shooting footage for the Korean English-language news channel. We were instant celebrities.

The first part of the festival consisted of several group activities, the first of which was the butterfly greenhouse. This was a pretty neat opportunity to see some different types of butterflies, some within large glass enclosures, but some flying freely around the greenhouse.

The greenhouse's entrance pavilion also had some intruiguing butterfly exhibits, including museum-style butterfly species pin-ups and posters giving information
The butterfly queen
(I presume; they were in Korean) about the butterflies displayed. However, there were also some more interesting displays, including some butterfly artwork.

As neat as the butterflies were--those alive and those not fitting that description--the best parts of the fair were to come. Our guide, Seokjin, rounded us up for some baby boar-catching!

Unfortunately, there were no baby boar available, so we had to make so with catching chicken and rabbits. We were assured that this was much easier.

We warmed up to some K-Pop. For those for whom I am the first exposure to Korean culture, please let me introduce you to Korean Pop Music. It is infectious, like Spice Girls when we were kids. If you need proof, check out a band called Big Bang with Sorry Sorry. I impressed (or at least I think of it that way) the crowd with my super warmup dance moves.

After the warmup, we lined up, waiting for the signal to pursue our furry and feathery prey. And then we were off!
The bunnies weren't the only cute things at the festival!
The paparazzi went wild at the sight of 40-odd westerners, mainly city-folk, chasing and cornering small barnyard creatures.

I have done more challenging things with animals -- holding down young cows at the branding at Cousin Murray's ranch comes to mind -- but it was still exhilarating. Erin taught me and some others how to properly catch and hold a chicken (apparently you're not supposed to palm it like a volleyball), and I got to chase cute British boys with bunnies... wait, I mean chase cute bunnies with British boys, or something like that. Lots of fun.

Next up: mudfish catching. Roughly half the group decided this was too gross for them, and took off on a tour by bug-caravan, leaving us brave souls to wade into the pool and skim our hands through the mud searching for the squirmy little fish.

At first, even though I was consciously feeling for the fish, whenever I actually touched one I was surprised and pulled my hands away in shock.
One of the few mudfish I caught.
I didn't catch many at first, though I did get one by luck as the jerk of my hand brought it out of the water and into my bucket.

Eventually, though, I settled down and quite enjoyed feeling around for the slimy creatures and pulling them out of the mud. It was still quite difficult, as they were quick and would take fright at any movement, but I got a few.

Earlier I mentioned the paparazzi; the cameras were out in full force for the mudfish catching. They were desperate for a good shot of foreigners catching mudfish, so they repeatedly brought over a bucket of the fish to refill our end of the pond, causing a brief period of frantic activity in which the fish would try to swim away as fast as possible and we would try to catch them as fast as possible. When we did catch one, we would hold it up and smile for the cameras, then deposit it in a water-bottle eagerly being held up by a Korean schoolchild.

We got cleaned up after the mudfish-catching, got butterfly tattoos, went to find lunch, then all too soon had to get on the bus back to Seoul. I had made a bunch of new friends, had a few new experiences, saw some of Korea that wasn't Seoul, and was tremendously content with my weekend as I drifted to sleep on the bus ride home.

New friends!


  1. Keep the travel stories coming Steve! I'm really enjoying them.

  2. I'm enjoying the travel stories and the pictures Steve. Hearing about you travel reminds me of my traveling in China.