Sunday, September 25, 2011

Walking the Neighborhood

I went on a walk in my neighborhood today. Was able to walk around and get more acquainted with it. I've been walking the same path to and from work and to and from the station and have not done much in the city other than that. So I wanted to go out and follow a path and then eventually end up back to my apartment building. I was able to make an odd circular shape and make it back to mu building. Here are some photos.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chuseok (Korean Thanksgivng)

This weekend is one of the big holidays for Koreans. It is a time when family members come together to share food and stories with each other and to give thanks to their ancestors for an abundant harvest. At my school they wanted the little kindergarten kids to learn some of the customs that go along with Chuseok. This includes all the children wearing their hanboks (traditional Korean clothes), and that includes me wearing one too!

We also learned the art of tea making and drinking. While making the tea we were told to have a clear mind, to meditate while we are making it. The tea itself didn't really taste like tea. It tasted like warm water with maybe a hint of some sort of flavor. I feel it needed to brew longer. They were having us brew it for only a minute.

Then on Friday, we learned a couple tradition Korean games, we learned a dance, and we learned how to make rice cakes.

For the games, we learned jegi chagi, which is basically a form of hacky sack. We also learned how to play paengi-chigi, which is a game where you spin a top and have to try and knock it over with a rope. Another game we learned is called tuho, which is where we throw an arrow into a large pot. We played another game (I don't remember what it was called) where we had a small basket on our head with a wooden block inside and we had to walk to the other side of the room and drop the block out of the basket on our head to try and knock down a block that is on the ground.

We also learned a Korean traditional dance called, Ganggangsullae. This is a Korean circle dance performed by women and children. In the dance we would hold hands and sing along with the music. We would also let go of each other hands and move our hands back and forth, in and out of the circle.

One last thing we learned was how to make Songpyeon. They are a traditional type of food eaten during Chuseok. Your first start by getting a small piece of rice cake and flattening it out to make a circle. You then stuff it with either red beans, raisins, sesame seeds, or chestnuts. We had the choice of raisins or red beans. Once you have placed the stuffing on the circular rice cake, you wrap it up to form a ball. While I was making my songpyeon, one of my Korean co-teachers made the comment to me that if I make a beautiful songpyeon I will meet a good-looking spouse (if single) or give birth to a beautiful daughter (if married). The rice cakes are then packaged with pine needles to add a fragrance to the rice cakes.

That is all for now. I'm gonna try and get to one of the palaces during the holiday because they put on some special events for the holiday.
You can find more photos on my flickr account!
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