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Yeosu Expo 2012-Angola Pavilion

Angola Pavilion Entrance

Angola Pavilion Entrance

OK, so here’s my first pavilion review. Let me state that these are just my opinions and others may have different thoughts about individual pavilions, so caveat emptor, so to speak.

I was going to give a grade to each pavilion, but, me being a teacher, that seems too pedantic. I’ll just give a recommendation about whether or not a pavilion is “must see.” Most of the international pavilions that I’ve seen are worth a visit. If you’ve got a lot of time, take in as many as you can. However, if you’re only going to be in Yeosu a day or two, you’re going to have to maximize your time. You really need at least several days to browse around. Hopefully, these reviews will help you.

Angola would seem to be an unlikely country to have a great pavilion, but it does. It has a beautiful exterior that easily catches the eye, but it’s kind of off in a corner. I haven’t noticed any long lines, but I’ve usually been by the pavilion before noon, so later times might mean longer lines. (That’s true of any of the pavilions–go early in the day to avoid the lines.)

This is one of those pavilions where visitors are ushered in in groups, probably about 20-30 at a time. Once inside, you’re given an introduction to the country by way of several video monitors. Then, you’re led into a larger theater with a large screen that shows a several-minutes long video about the gorgeous Angola coastline. Very nicely done. After that, you go into a small interactive area that also has a few cultural assets.

If that were all that the pavilion had, it probably wouldn’t be worth waiting in line for. The thing that makes this a special visit is the restaurant and performance stage. The restaurant has an extensive menu, and you can sip on a beverage, including various teas and beers. When I ate there this afternoon, the staff told me that only a few choices on the menu were available, but the food items would be arriving in the near future. Also, the Angolan beer, Cuca, hadn’t yet arrived. No problem.

After around 2 p.m., you can also take in some of the Angolan musical performers and dancers on the stage in the restaurant. I haven’t been there late enough to check that out, but I hope to go there tomorrow evening to catch some of the performances, and I’ll post my impressions at a later date. At any rate, the restaurant seems like a great place to chill and enjoy some African music. Adding to the laid back feeling is the friendly staff. If you go there, enjoy a chat with Uzail, Bernie, Leandro or Eldon. Cool dudes, and everyone else seems very accomodating, too.

On a couple of these photos, there seems to be some odd ghost-like figures on the back wall, but music videos are projected there when live performances aren’t taking place.

Angola Pavilion Restaurant

Angola Pavilion Restaurant

Angola Pavilion Restaurant

Angola Pavilion Restaurant

Angola Pavilion Restaurant

Angola Pavilion Restaurant

Angola Pavilion Restaurant

Angola Pavilion Restaurant

The paintings along the wall are part of a monthly rotating exhibit of Angolan artists. Here’s a close up of one of them.

Angola Pavilion Restaurant  Painting

Angola Pavilion Restaurant Painting

Like I said, I had lunch there today. I ordered a rice and seafood stew and it was darn good! The downside was that there were a few small bits of crab shell that I bit into, so I don’t think I’d order that particular dish again, but it was good. I also had a small cup of coffee. The total bill was 16,000 Korean won , around 14 or 15 US dollars. Most of the pavilion restaurants, and there are many, charge between $10 and $20 an entree. You can get cheaper food outside the pavilions at any of the numerous food courts. The food in those courts, mostly Korean fare, is also quite edible. I promise, you won’t go hungry at the Expo. For even cheaper fare, there are many small Korean food stalls and coffee shops clustered around the main gate. Most of their food looks very palatable.

Angola Rice and Seafood Stew

Angola Rice and Seafood Stew

I didn’t notice a souvenir shop, but there may be a small one. I’ll report on that later.

So, here’s a short summary of the Angola Pavilion.

time and day visited–Tuesday, May 15th, 10:30 a.m. and Thursday, May 17th, 12:30 p.m.
decor–entrance good, restaurant awesome
lines–short in the morning, maybe longer later on
multimedia–large screen presentation, a few interactive screens
souvenir shop–??
cultural assets–a few, except for the restaurant, which has many
restaurant/bar–superb, prices in line with other International Pavilion prices
overall rating–I consider this a must-see for the restaurant alone, although the large-screen video of the Angola coastline was spectacular. Laid back atmosphere with friendly staff. Make room for the Angola Pavilion on your itinerary.

OK, I hope you enjoyed my first review and I’ll try to get more of these posted on a frequent basis every few days, or, depending on time, perhaps a couple a day.

Laos Friends

OK, one final post with photos from my vacation in Laos and Thailand back in December. I put up some children’s photos last time, so this one has a few photos of adults.

Most of these were taken around the New Year holiday, but the Lao people like to start celebrating several days before and continue for a few days after New Year’s Day. Here’s lunch at Nai’s house on Dec. 31st, eaten by about 7-8 family members and friends. Let’s see, what do we have here? Looks like the remains of some fish, deep-fried chicken feet, various greens, a veggie salad and, of course, Beer Lao.

Lunch at Nai's house in Laos

Lunch at Nai's House

While some of us were eating and talking (with me pretending to listen–I don’t speak or understand the Lao language, yet), other folks, including Nai, were playing cards. It looks like a Lao version of gin rummy, I guess, with small wagers included.

Laos card game

Afternoon card game

These are a few of Nai’s brother’s friends, who are working on a good-sized platter of semi-congealed cow blood soup. Various herbs are thrown into the soup, along with a couple of hands full of peanuts. Yummmm! Nai’s sister Nui is on the left.

Next are Nai’s brother Pui (Poo-ee), in the center, flanked on the right by cousin Mot (Maht) and on the left by another lovely cousin, whose name I’ve forgotten. Mot’s mother (one of Nai’s sisters) and father live and work in Thailand, but he was visiting the homestead for a few weeks. I mentioned to Nai that Mot didn’t appear too happy to be here, but Nai told me he wasn’t happy to be going back to Thailand (and to school) soon. The young lady asked me, through Nai, to find her a Western boyfriend. I told her I’d put her photo on the internet, so here it is.

Laos friends

Laos friends

The day before, on the 30th, Nai and I were in Vientiane visiting a Lao friend’s pub. While shooting pool, Nai introduced me to a friend of his from Nai’s village. He’s a policeman in Vientiane, I believe, and a very friendly fellow. Here he is, posing with Nai.

Nai with his friend

Nai and Friend

I really love this guy’s expressive face. To me, he looks like one of the characters in the early-60s hit TV comedy “Car 54, Where Are You?” Actor Joe E. Ross played my favorite character on the series, Officer Gunther Toody. Mr. Ross is on the right. On the left is Fred Gwynne as Officer Francis Muldoon. Gwynne was also famous for the Herman Munster character on “The Munsters.”

Car 54, Where Are You?

Fred Gwynne and Joe E. Ross

What do you think–resemblance or not? To help you decide, here’s another photo of Nai’s friend with me, an obligatory shot, I suppose. Nai took the photo, but he did such a lousy job. It makes me look too fat! Where’s my chin? I DO have a chin. (I must have had my head tucked into my neck on this one!)

Ron and Nai's friend

Ron and Nai's Friend

We also took a walk along the Chao Anouvong Park along the Mekong. One of the signature features of the park is a larger than life statue of King Anouvong, the last ruler of the Lan Xang (Million Elephants) Kingdom. The Vientiane Times of June 15, 2010 (by way of LaoVoices) states that:

“Since Chao Anouvong is remembered for reuniting the country, his statue will depict the strength of his leadership, and should be as close to lifelike as possible,” said Head of the Ministry of Information and Culture’s Fine Arts Department, Dr Bounthieng Siripaphanh.

The statue, which is costing about 5 billion kip to make, will stand about 8 metres high and 3 metres wide. The king will be represented holding a sword in his left hand while gesturing with his right.

One of the greatest achievements of Chao Anouvong’s reign was the construction of Vat Sisaket, Vientiane’s oldest standing temple today.

This Wikipedia article, however, is not so kind to the king:

Modern Lao nationalist movements, on the other hand, have turned Anouvong into a hero, even though his strategic and tactical mistakes combined with his hot temper led to the end of the kingdom of Lan Xang (Million Elephants) destruction of Vientiane, and a permanent division of the Lao people between the country of Laos and the Lao-speaking provinces of northeastern Thailand.

Hero or not, it’s still an impressive statue.

Chao Anouvong statue

King Anouvong Statue

That wraps up my vacation to Thailand and Laos, so we’ll be goodnight and adieu, until next time.

Photo of the Moon and Venus

The Moon and Venus at Dusk From Nai's House

Laos-Thailand Trip Report: Nong Khai

So, if you read my previous posts about Wat Traimit and Bangkok, you probably know that I took the overnight train to Nong Khai, in northeast Thailand, just across the Mekong River from Laos. If I recall, this train used to run, more or less, on time; perhaps it was late, but usually no more than 30 minutes or so. However, the last couple of times I’ve taken it, it’s been 2 HOURS late pulling into Nong Khai. It departs from Bangkok’s Hualamphong Station at 8:30 p.m., but this trip, it didn’t pull into Nong Khai until 10:30 a.m. Hmmm, don’t know why it was so late, but perhaps the railway authorities were being cautious and slowed the train down because of possible damage done to the tracks due to the widespread flooding a few weeks before.

Anyway, I made it to Nong Khai OK and was met at the station by Nai. We checked into the Pantawee Hotel and stayed a few days there. The Pantawee had hung some new, attractive lanterns in the trees at the hotel since I’d last been there. I don’t know if they’ll be permanent decorations or if they were only seasonal, but they added a nice ambience to the property.

Pantawee Hotel Lantersn, Nong Khai, Thailand

Christmas Lanterns at Pantawee Hotel

Detracting from the usual peaceful ambience, however, was street construction going on right in front of the hotel. I usually like to sit at the outdoor patio in the morning to eat breakfast or just have a cup of coffee or two. The extreme noise and dust made it impossible to enjoy a quiet morning outside; sitting inside wasn’t too bad, though, and, occasionally work would halt for a short while, with the temporary silence standing in sharp contrast to the noise.

Nong Khai Street Construction

Street construction in front of the Pantawee Hotel

Another peaceful spot in Nong Khai is the promenade along the Mekong River. It’s quite pleasant to take a stroll, to sit in the shade of one of the gazebos, or to eat in one of the many restaurants. We usually have lunch and/or supper along here. Below are a few food photos of tom yam (tohm yahm), a spicy and sour soup, with fish, and fried rice with chicken. Nai and I shared the tom yam, and I had the fried rice. Both were delicious and cheap.

Tom Yam Thai Soup

Tom yam with fish

Thai Fried Rice with Chicken

Thai fried rice with chicken

You could also take a short excursion on the Mekong. Below are a couple of photos of boating leisure. The first was taken in Nong Khai and the second was taken last summer in Yeosu, looking down from the Dolsan Bridge. Which one would you prefer? I like both of them.

Taking a boat ride on the Mekong River

Taking a boat ride on the Mekong River

Lazy Day Fishing in Yeosu, South Korea

Lazy Day Fishing in Yeosu, South Korea

Probably the biggest highlight of the whole vacation was the chance to attend a live concert of Isaan music. Nai and I did just that on the evening of December 23rd. We enjoyed a 3 to 3 1/2 hour concert featuring traditional and modern Isaan music. Isaan is a region of northeast Thailand that features various aspects of Lao and Thai culture, including language, music and cuisine. I didn’t take any photos, but I did take about 50 minutes of video with my point-and-shoot camera. (I didn’t take the big DSLR with me on this trip.) The area in front of the stage was too crowded to get close, and I was handholding the camera in low light, so the videos aren’t all that great. But, I’m going to try to piece together the best bits into one video and get it posted here eventually. So, tune in for that and for a few photos of my visit to Laos. More later.

Laos-Thailand Trip Report: Bangkok’s Chinatown

In all my previous visits to Bangkok, I’d never visited Chinatown, except for a crazy tuk-tuk ride on my way to another area several years ago. I’ve read and heard that this section of Bangkok is one of the city’s most interesting and fascinating to visit. Here’s what Lonely Planet has to say about it:

“Bangkok’s Chinatown is the urban explorer’s equivalent of the Amazon Basin. The highlights here are a rather complicated web of tiny alleyways, crowded markets and delicious street stalls. Unlike other Chinatowns around the world, Bangkok’s is defiantly ungentrified, and getting lost in it is probably the best thing that could happen to you. The neighbourhood dates back to 1782 and relatively little has changed since then. You can still catch conversations in various Chinese dialects, buy Chinese herbal cures or taste Chinese dishes not available elsewhere in Thailand. Getting in and out of Chinatown is hindered by horrendous traffic but the area is a brief walk from Hualamphong Metro station.”

Although my time in Bangkok was very limited this trip, I decided to take a brief excursion to the Chinatown area, knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to see it in depth. I had several hours to kill before I hopped aboard the overnight express to Nong Khai, so I dropped off my big bag at the luggage holding room at Hualamphong Railway Station and made the short walk (15 minutes) to Chinatown.

It’s easy to find the main road, Yaowarat–just look for the large gate marking the beginning of the area.

One of Chinatown’s main attractions is Wat Traimit, which is a short walk from the gate (I took the shot of the gate from the top of Traimit). It was on the right hand side of the road as I was walking down Yaowarat.

I wasn’t sure how much time I was going to spend browsing around the area, so I decided to visit the temple on the way back, if I had time.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have all that much time to spend in Chinatown, with its many shops, side streets and vendors’ stalls. It was extremely busy and crowded with shoppers and tourists, and walking was quite slow, although it’s probably faster than driving. Motor bikes would probably be the fastest way of traveling through the dense mass of traffic.

It’s a very popular place to buy gold, gems and other jewelry, but it appeared that, in the short time I spent there, you could buy just about anything you might be looking for. Here are a few items that caught my attention.

Traditional clothing.

Tassels

Fruit and vegetables.

Stuffed crab, anyone? Chinatown is renowned for it’s nighttime outdoor eating venues. Unfortunately, by nightfall I’d be on the train to Nong Khai. The next time I’m in Bangkok, I definitely want to visit this area at night.

Oh, and did I hear you say that you need a barber’s chair?

So, just about anything you need or want, you can probably find it here.

Yes, I did return to Wat Traimit and took the tour of the temple area. This post is getting rather long, so I’ll save the wat for next time. More later.

Back to Work

After enjoying more than a week off while the students took mid-term exams, I go back to work tomorrow. I didn’t do a whole lot during the time off, but I did get up to Seoul for a few days; I needed to get some more pages added to my passport. I wouldn’t have needed any more until my passport expired, but the Laos government chooses to take up an entire page with their large tourist visas. Because I go there so often on vacation, I use up quite a few pages in a short time. Although I enjoy Seoul, I don’t really like going up there because I spend so much money in a short time. The passport pages used to be a free service, but now the U.S. government charges $82 for it. Add in the cost of transportation there and back, a couple of nights in a guesthouse, eating, visiting the Kyobo bookstore for a few reading materials, and a trip to the Foreign Food Market in Itaewon, and the price climbs. I was able to get a few spices that I can’t find here in Yeosu, including a Cajun Spice Mix and a bottle of cardamom. I also discovered that they have all kinds of beans and pasta, so I got a couple of bags of couscous and, unbelievably, black-eye peas. Now I can have that traditional southern U.S. dish, Hoppin’ John, which, if eaten on New Year’s Day, will bring you good health and prosperity for the rest of the year. Yummmmm, I can’t wait. Heck, I’m sure I’ll cook up a few batches before then. I might even have to make another Seoul run.

Well, the World Series is over and the Rangers kind of blew it, but what a classic game 6 that was! I watched the replay on MLB TV when I returned from Seoul. I avoided checking the Internet and my email as a precaution to avoid seeing the game result before I watched it. A really exciting game and hard to top, as game 7 seemed rather anti-climactic (unless you’re a Cardinal fan).

I’ve still got a lot of photos to put up, including some from Seoul, so stay tuned for more later (sooner, I hope.)

Yeosu Indoor Fish Market

Here are a few photos taken in one of Yeosu’s indoor fish markets last April, which just goes to show how timely I am at posting some of my shots. :smile: The fish markets are located in the area of town where there are dozens of folks selling vegetables, fruit, fish and other staples in a hodge-podge of outdoor and indoor markets. Here’s a view of the main street of this area.

Anyway, the outdoor market is still open, but the indoor ones, of which there are a few, are much nicer for winter shopping. Here’s a photo of the outdoor market, which I took way back in October of 2008 (and which I DID put in the main photo gallery, but not on the blog).

Inside the market, folks are busily engaged in buying and selling all sorts of seafood.

Following are several shots of various creatures from the sea; I know about the crabs and fish, but what the others are called, I have no idea. If anyone knows, please leave a comment. Enjoy.

Two Sides of the Mekong

I stayed a few short days in both Nong Khai, Thailand, and Vientiane, Laos. I mainly hung out along the Mekong River, and both cities have built up their respective riverbanks.

Nong Khai hasn’t changed all that much in the year since I’d last been there. It’s a pleasant walk along the river, where you can duck into one of the small shelters, out of the hot sun, and take a nap if you’d like.

There are also any number of small, open-air restaurants. Go in, sit by a fan and grab a snack or a meal. Here, Nai and I prepare to chow down. I’m the fella without glasses. Oh, sorry about that. You’ll just have to guess which one of the handsome guys is yours truly.

I forget what Nai ordered, but I got shrimp pad thai (first photo below) and spring rolls. Yummmmm.

You can also eat dinner ON the river by taking the dinner cruise boat, located at the end of the river walkway. It’s not too expensive and it’s worth it, in my opinion. Nong Khai is very colorful from the middle of the Mekong. One of my favorite sights is the Big Buddha that sits on top of one of the temples, contemplating the river and gazing into Laos.

This particular evening, the sun was close to setting and the golden light it cast really bought out the colors along the river bank.

Let’s take a look into Laos, shall we?

Not too much to see except temples and lots of vegetation. But, then again, it’s not Vientiane. You have to go about 20 kilometers upstream, as the river flows, to get to the capital city. In the past, the river was lined with small restaurants, merely chairs and grills set up to serve diners, but it was a nice spot to watch the sun go down over Thailand. Here’s a shot of one of our favorite spots from days gone by (actually, from December, 2009).

Here’s another one from the same time from the fourth floor location of the Bor Pen Nyang bar. However, this one shows some of the dramatic changes that would be made to the riverside. The image below it gives a broader look at the construction that was still ongoing in June of 2010.

The result of all that work is a very pleasant riverside park, one that Laotians can be very proud of. Gone from that area are all the old dining areas (they’ve moved farther down the river), but there’s a very nice walkway, play areas for the kids and lots of greenery. Here’s another view from almost exactly the same location from the Bor Pen Nyang. The park stretches nearly to the large, white Don Chan Palace hotel in the background, and I believe work is still being done on the section near there.

The two shots below were taken around 6 p.m. on a Saturday, so the place was fairly crowded with families, couples, singles and even a few monks, all out enjoying a stroll or riding their bicycles in the cooling evening breeze.

So, yeah, it’s a nice park and a welcome addition to Vientiane. I kinda miss the small eateries, but they can still be found if you look for them. Sitting on the river, sipping an ice-cold Beer Lao or another beverage of your choice and watching the sun go down over the Mekong is also still possible and a memorable experience.

That’s it for now. I’ll get some more photos up later of Bangkok and Phuket, so stay tuned.

Thai Planes, Trains and Mototaxis

This is the first post, then, about my recent vacation in Thailand and Laos. Let me say congratulations, though, to Yingluck Shinawatra, leader of the winning party in Thailand’s recent election, future Prime Minister and sister of deposed ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra. Hopefully, the election will help to unite the country and heal the wounds caused by all the strife there recently. Some commentators on Thai politics think it will be a good thing, but there are those who think another military coup is possible. I left the country just a few days before the election, and, while I did see more than a little campaigning going on, I didn’t see any demonstrations or acts of violence. Good luck, people of Thailand!

Next, I have to comment on the quality of Thai Airways. I used to enjoy flying with the “Smooth as Silk” airline, but lately their service has really declined. The quality of the food served on flights has gone down noticeably from, oh, say about five years ago; the attendants, while not surly, don’t seem as interested or caring; and the in-flight entertainment has become sub-par. On the trip to Bangkok, all we had were the overhead video monitors–no individual seatback screens with video on demand (older planes, I guess). On the trip back to Korea, we did, indeed, have the video on demand, individual screen system–nice. However, less than halfway through the flight, the system went down–no video, no music to listen to, nothing. That made for a much longer flight. Yeesh! I’m gonna have to start booking my travel on another airline, methinks. Sorry, Thai Air, you’re gonna have to pick it up quite a bit to keep my business.

Ok, I got that out of the way. I only stayed in Bangkok for one night, so I didn’t get around too much. One thing I always do in Bangkok is eat at the Bourbon St. Restaurant, which, as you might guess, serves mouth-watering Cajun cuisine. It’s only about a kilometer or so from the hotel, so I could have walked there. I felt like having a little fun, though, so I decided to take a motorbike mototaxi, a rather unsafe way to travel in Bangkok’s notorious traffic.

It was around 7 p.m. and Sukhumvit Road was experiencing its usual rush-hour jam, so taking a regular taxi probably would have taken around half an hour. On a mototaxi, it took about 10 minutes, with the driver weaving between the non-moving cars and buses, working his way to the front of the pack waiting for the traffic light to change. Then, at the green light, he roared to the back of the next stalled pack and again squeezed to the front. You have to really keep your arms and legs tight to the bike–you’re the meat in a sandwich and the buses and cars are the bread. It’s actually not that bad in a traffic jam, because not too many of the big vehicles are moving–just watch the arms and legs. I took a couple of videos while I was riding on the back, holding on for dear life with one hand and holding my compact camera with the other. I’ll try to get one of them posted here for your amusement.

So, I did make it to the restaurant ok and had a great meal of red beans and rice. Fantastic! Be sure to give the Bourbon St. a try if you’r ever in Bangkok. It’s on Sukhumvit Soi 22. Check their website for directions.

Another thing I like about Bangkok is all the surprising cultural trappings that seem to pop up out of nowhere. I walked back to Sukhumvit 11 (no sense pressing my luck on the mototaxis), and this statue caught my attention. It looks like it might be a shrine of some sort, and it was located across the street in front of a bank or department store–I really don’t remember which. I didn’t notice it on the ride down, but that was probably because I was too busy taking the videos and trying not to die. :smile:

More mundane transportation is the overnight train to Nong Khai. It departs from Hua Lamphong Station at 8:30 p.m. and arrives in Nong Khai around 8:30 a.m. The train is usually late by about 20-30 minutes, although it’s been on time occasionally on my past trips, but this time we were 2 HOURS late getting into the northeastern Thai city. Again, on the return trip, the train was almost 2 hours late arriving in Bangkok. Very unusual, but not a big problem for me, since I wasn’t on any real pressing time schedule. (Nai had a pretty long wait in meeting me, though.)

Here’s a shot of Hua Lamphong I took from a restaurant above the main waiting area.

I kind of like the rickety, over-aged night train–it’s seems like an escape to the past, when people weren’t in such a hell-bent-for-leather hurry to get somewhere else. On the train, it’s not the arrival that’s important, it’s the trip. The train has a dining car, so I rocked and rolled my way down a few cars and sat down to have a snack. You meet all sorts of interesting folks. I talked to one Norwegian guy who co-owns a guest house in Vang Vieng, Laos, and he told me that the police up in the “frat” town (about which I’ve previously posted) had clamped down on the after hours (closing time–midnight) partying there. That’s excellent news–it’s a beautiful area, but the young backpackers that seemed to party ’round the clock had turned it into something less than appealing to older folks like me.

I also struck up a conversation with one of the police who patrol the cars, checking passports, watching for thievery, and other such mundane chores. I took a photo, but for some reason I had the settings on my camera messed up and didn’t get a clear shot of him. However, it does give some idea of the swaying motion of the train, so I kind of like it anyway.

So, I’ll end this rather long post with my arrival in Nong Khai and try to get some more photos and stories up this weekend. Stay tuned.

Korean Seafood Soup

One of the highlights of our annual Vision English class field trip is the awesome lunch that we’ve always had. This year was no different, and, as a matter of fact, we ate at the same restaurant that we patronized last year. Again, we had a marvelous seafood soup–haemul tang (haymool tahng). It’s more like a stew, however, with all the seafood basking in a thicker liquid than you’d find in a soup.

As with any Korean meal, there is a large selection of side dishes, of which everyone partakes and if you run out, just ask for more at usually no extra charge.

Here’s the stew, chock full of clams, shrimp, crab and veggies, cooking at the table. Dig in!

Here’s my first bowl of this delicious bounty from the sea. I hate to admit that I pigged out and had four, ummmm, maybe five?, bowls. Well, SOMEBODY had to finish it off. (One of the other teachers helped me out, downing about the same amount. It’s hard to stop once you get started, eh Cathy?)

In just a couple of days, I’ll be chowing down on Thai food. More later.

Children’s Day, Turtle Ships

Before it gets to be too far past the fact, I’d better do a post on Children’s Day, which was on Thursday, May 5th. There’s really no equivalent holiday in the U.S., particularly since it’s an official national holiday, an off day for government workers (and English teachers :smile: ). That should tell you something about how most Koreans feel about their kids. That week was also the Turtle Ship Festival, which is held in conjunction with the holiday. The festival celebrates legendary Korean naval commander Admiral Yi Sun-shin, inventor of the turtle ship. I posted last year about Children’s Day and the Turtle Ship Festival.

It was a gorgeous day–warm, with brilliant sunshine and blue skies (no yellow dust blanketing the area). The festival area is located at the Jongpo Ocean Park Walkway, from where I’ve taken a number of photos, such as this one.

Last year’s festival was a bit on the small side, but this year’s was much, much larger, due to the upcoming 2012 Expo (May-Aug 2012), so one of my former advanced level English students informed me.

Naturally, there were kids with their parents everywhere you turned, playing games, having fun, enjoying the beautiful weather.

There were dozens of tents set up for food, cultural exhibits and local organizations, with a few surprises along the way.

Here’s a fellow demonstrating kitchen knives.

This guy was doing something with these hamsters (gerbils?); I’m not sure what, but they were rather indifferent to his efforts. They lay there, not moving, either tired or drugged. If the latter, the guy should be taken to the woodshed for mistreatment of animals.

Wanna buy a sword?

Small turtle ship replicas.

Korean junk food, with french fried sweet potatoes in the lower right corner.

This food vendor was pretty good at tossing and stretching his noodle dough.

You could also buy paintings depicting the defeat of the Japanese naval forces when they tried to invade Korea way back in the late 16th century.

And continuing to walk along, I ran into surprise #1–MontanaRon is shocked to see a Montana Native American!

Ok, not really. It was a Korean dressed in Native American garb, selling flutes. Pretty cool, though.

Just a few tents down from him, I stumbled onto surprise #2–schawarmas! A couple of Turkish fellows were selling lamb or chicken schawarmas (They had a couple of Turkish flags hanging in their tent, so I assume they’re from that country.)

Unfortunately, I had just eaten and wasn’t hungry at all. They were doing a booming business. It’s coincidental that a reader left a comment on the blog about schawarmas. (Alan, are you reading this?) And, while I’m at it, let me give a BIG SHOUT OUT to his website, which features tons of recipes for this fantastic mid-Eastern food. Check it out at ShawarmaRecipe.com I hope the Turkish guys are here to set up a schawarma restaurant–I’ll be one of their best customers. (Yeosu has very few options if you’re hungry for something other than Korean food.)

There were also a couple of stages set up for performances, but my timing was bad–nothing much going on in that respect, though this small group was hamming it up and playing music for the crowd. Check out the older Korean on the far right and the man kicking up his heels to the left of him.

This wasn’t too far from the new bridge, which still isn’t open.

Overall, it was a great afternoon out. I can hardly wait for the Expo next year when there will be dozens of international booths (along with their respective foods). Gotta go–gettin’ hungry for breakfast and gotta work soon. More later.