Ruby Ramblings

Gochang Bokbunja Festival
June 20, 2010, 2:00 pm
Filed under: Korea, Travel

mmmm, blackberries. Adventure Korea took a trip to Jeollabuk-do provence this weekend for a mish-mash of activities centered around a Blackberry Festival. Although Adventure Korea is a fantastic group that does a great job organizing field trips for locals and foreigners, this one was a bit on the odd side. I don’t think AK realized that we were invited the festival as a kind of foreign dog and pony show. We were followed constantly by local camera crews, photos snapped, interviewed, and English practiced upon.

Gochang is a pretty remote town, with some awesome geologic features. As can be found often down south, there seemed to be an obsession with statue penises. There was a giant statue of a 7 foot tall penis with a woman’s face looking at it admiringly on our drive in. I didn’t manage to get a photo of that one, but it might be safer for you that way. Not everyone is ready for the public display of affection for the male member.

Next to the festival was a nice temple – Seonunsa. The majority of temples in Korea are extremely similar, and even myself, the eternal temple hopper, is finding my interest in them waning. This is a gorgeous spot in the mountains, and the original structure was built somewhere around 574, it has been reconstructed at least twice. I kind of like the look of the new, unpainted buildings, so simple and pretty.

The night concluded with a free for all wine “tasting.” We were duped into thinking we were going to a private costume party, where instead we were placed front and center at a giant event surrounded by at least half of the village and video taped every second. What made it worse is that a few of the group of people immediately set to getting hammered and giving the locals a prime example of every terrible stereotype in the book. Although I have nothing against having a few glasses of the local brew and dancing a bit, this was a small town where most people’s opinions of foreigners are based a lot more on stereotypes then on real experience, and unfortunately I think some of those stereotypes were concretely reiterated. All in all, it was a good time, but there were more than a couple of us who were embarrassed to be associated with a few of the folks in our party. Blackberry wine would have been Bacchus’ drink of choice.

The next morning we headed to the beach. It’s always great to hear the ocean. Stranded jellyfish littered the sand. I didn’t attempt to find out if they stung or not.

While the larger group was playing soccer and digging for clams in the mud flats. I took a stroll with a delightful S. African couple through the tiny town we stopped in on the way home. Great, old traditional houses, bags upon bags of empty clam shells, and rice paddies between every house. I spent too many years doing archaeology work to go play in the mud if I’m not getting paid. 😉

May Reads
June 4, 2010, 6:17 pm
Filed under: Books

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Kindle Version

A Bookleaves bookclub selection. We tore it to pieces. Although I think everyone enjoyed the quick nature, and it was a good suspense, crime mystery, we really couldn’t see what the hoopla was. Also, at least to this quick witted group of feisty ladies, it seemed like the author was on a self-aggrandizing male-fantasy.


Rock, Paper, Scissors
Kindle Version

Anyone who has taught in Korea will understand why I found this title irresistible. Rock, Paper, Scissors is the ubiquitous problem solver for any conflict between students.

A House in Fez
Kindle Version

This was a delightful journey through remodeling a house in an unlikely location. Tuesday Teaser Post

Sea of Poppies
Kindle Version

This was a yet another fantastic historical fiction by Ghosh. Outlandish play with language, people bucking the chains of society way ahead of their time, and the chains people purposefully put on to get out of their current situation.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames
Kindle Version

Ella Minnow Pea
Kindle Version

I loved this book. I read it in one sitting at my favorite tea shop in Bupyeong, which I hadn’t gone to in ages. Chinese Pour tea, nice scenery, and a novel that couldn’t be more about the elusive nature of communication.

My Life in France
Kindle Version

Another Bookleaves choice. Another surprising winner.

The Battle of the Labryrinth
Kindle Version

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
I’m teaching a fantastic reading class for our advanced students. This was book #1, and I was estatic to revisit the book version of a cartoon I loved as a kid.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Democracy Matters