May 19, 2013 by rkpcs
On the morning of Saturday 18th May the team said goodbye to the kind hospitality of their hosts from Jangheun and moved on once again – bound for Nok-dong.
En route the team stopped off at the Boseong Green Tea Festival which is set in the area of the famous Boseong Daehan Dawon Tea Plantation. This plantation was initially established during the Japanese occupation of Korea in the early twentieth century and is a truly spectacular place with row after row of green tea bushes set on a hillside amongst green fields and cedar trees. The team took the opportunity to enjoy delicious green tea ice cream and green tea cookies before they headed off to attend the rest of the festival.
There was an especially warm and friendly feeling around this festival and a real party atmosphere following the public holiday the day before. This was further enhanced by the large stage at the front of the main festival area where everything from traditional Korean folk dancing to recreations of Psy’s “Gentlemen” dance were being performed. There were also many foreign tourists enjoying the atmosphere, including a large group from the USA. The team were able to look around the various stalls before experiencing several Korean traditions first hand including how to drink green tea correctly and how to make green tea from scratch. This involves selecting the leaves, sorting out any yellow leaves and other debris, frying the leaves in a dry pan (to give the green tea the proper colour, smell and taste), then rolling the leaves out (to destroy the leaf tissue and improve the quality of the tea) before drying the leaves again in the heat of the pan – a very labour intensive yet rewarding process which takes about an hour and a half to complete.
After this the team had the opportunity to help out in the process of making a traditional sweet Korean rice cake (called dduk) which is made with rice flour, water sugar and salt. This involved the team members using a very large wooden mallet to pound the dduk before it is rolled up into a cylinder shape and cut into pieces ready to be eaten.
Following all this hard work the team were ready for lunch at one of the festival stands. On offer was traditional food from various countries including chicken soup from Vietnam, a sweet biscuit from Cambodia, rice parcels from Japan and rice cakes from Korea. All the food had been prepared by women who were native to the respective countries but had since settled in Korea – it was absolutely delicious!
After lunch the team had the opportunity to try traditional Korean archery (which is much harder than it looks) before travelling to Naganeupseong Fortress. This one of the best preserved fortresses from Korean history, having been built in 1397 to fend off attacks from Japanese pirates, and contains more than 90 private houses within the fortress walls. At the centre of this settlement is a spectacular 600 year old Ginko tree which is regarded as the village guardian.
From Naganeupseong Fortress the team travelled to Na-ro-do where the day, which had been dedicated to several Korean traditions, was rounded off by a delicious and highly enjoyable traditional Korean meal. The team are now based in Na-ro-do for the next few days.