Namji Canola flower festival

It’s the seasons of festivals here in Korea! Now that spring is all around us the festivals won’t stop until the heat of summer.

Namji, a town about 40 minutes southeast of us, was having their famous Canola flower festival. (I had never considered where canola oil came from before this festival, truth be told.)

Our students and our Korean coworkers had been buzzing with the news of the festival for a while, calling it the “rape festival” because the flower is also known as “rape.” We quickly explained why “canola” is a better word to use. It was pretty funny/horrifying to hear a bunch of 10-year-old boys exclaim, “we love the rape festival! I go and eat and watch the rapes!” Canola, kids. Canola.

Jordan and I borrowed our friends/coworkers’ scooter and drove to Yeongsan, a small town about 5 kilometers south of us. From there we caught a bus to Namji. It took about 30 minutes to get there. At the terminal we got a taxi. Although we could’ve walked, we weren’t entirely sure where it was and didn’t want to get lost. Our taxi drove for about seven minutes, then pulled over on the side of the road. Through gestures and a few Korean words we learned that he wanted to drop us off here, before traffic got clogged on the bridge. We paid him 5,000 won (a little pricey, I think) and walked up a bridge, then to the field on the other side. It’s a part of the Namji sports complex.

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Yellow flowers greeted us, and the river made the perfect backdrop. We walked among the stalls, sampling Korean festival food and watching street performers. There were Peruvian performers we saw in Jinhae last week. Jordan doesn’t think either of them are actually Peruvian, they just have a show/music with Peruvian culture.

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It threatened to rain all day, but we enjoyed walking through the paths and crossing the footbridge over the river. We paused at a small Buddhist temple, then backtracked. Because of the weather we didn’t stay very long, and we walked about three kilometers back to the bus station. It was pretty crowded due to the festival, but we snagged the last seats on the bus!

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From there it was easy to return to Yeongsan and pick up the scooter again. Because Gyeseong is so isolated we have to take the bus everywhere we go. Being beholden to bus times is annoying for us independent Americans. But this time, using the scooter, we felt liberated! It was wonderful to feel the wind in my hair and realize that we could go anywhere we wanted, on our own, without waiting for someone else’s schedule. Man, that felt good.

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Morgan S Hazelwood

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