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The Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

Ever Evolving Primate: Travel, photography, food, cooking, and just about anything else.: The Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

sakura sakura
noyama mo sato mo
mi-watasu kagiri
kasumi ka kumo ka
asahi ni niou
sakura sakura
sakura sakura
yayoi no sorawa
mi-watasu kagiri
kasumi ka kumo ka
nioi zo izuru
izaya izaya
mini yukan

This weekend Carolyn and I went to Jinhae, a small naval port west of Busan, for the annual cherry blossom festival. I've always thought of cherry blossoms as a Japanese spectacle, but seeing as Jinhae was a Nihon Kaigun port during the Japanese occupation it only makes sense that the town would be covered with cherry blossoms. We took the saemaul train after work on Friday and arrived in Jinhae at about 10:40pm.

Even under complete darkness it was obvious that the cherry trees were blossoming in a huge way. It was obvious that the town was painted pink with these delicate, beautiful flowers that only stay bloomed for about 10 days before they peacefully float away in the breeze. The festival at night was quite brightly lit, and several people were shooting off fireworks in the night. It was quite active and exciting. After months and months of working to get ourselves to Korea we were finally in a festival that we could absolutely not be at anywhere in the United States.

After stumbling around the festival for a bit we decided to find a place to sleep, and the only place available was a Korean LOVE MOTEL. A love motel is a place you can rent, umm, by the hour. We had luck finding a place to stay, but were amazed by the amenities. The room came complete with a circular shaped bed, a table and chairs (complete with fresh stains...) and a half empty bottle of control lotion, a half empty bottle of "Exciter" lubricant, and a can of bug spray. Classy to the end. After midnight I had the unique experience of listening to a sailor from the navy base (I'm pretty sure an American) get his money's worth from one of the working girls. I was tired enough to sleep until about 8:00am, when we got up, got ready, and headed out to join the festivities.

The first thing we did in the morning was pick our jaws up off of the ground, as the cherry blossoms were out in full force. The streets were all lined with cherry trees, and the weather was gorgeous.

We immediately climbed the "year" stairs, which get their name from the simple fact that there are 365 of them. From the top of these stairs you could see the entire waterfront surrounding Jinhae, and many beautiful blossoms. It was an astounding sight to see, with streaks of pink in and around the city, and covering the sides of the hills and mountains in the distance. You could see into the Sea of Japan, where the distant islets and mountains hung like mysterious clouds on the horizon. What an amazing sight.

Unfortunately ever since the earthquake in Japan a month ago our internet service in Korea has been somewhat unreliable. If you want to see more cherry blossoms you should go to my flickr page where you can see the rest of the day's photos.

We also met up with some friends who teach english in Busan, and after spending the day cruising the festival and sipping on soju we went to a no rae bang (singing room) for some Karaoke action. I might have sung "Toxic" by Britney Spears, among other horrible songs. We finished there at about 3:30am and headed out to grab a bowl of noodles. Hot udon on a cold night is an amazing treat. Then we started looking for a place to sleep. The Motels were all full, unfriendly, or expensive, so we tried to find a jjimjilbang, which we were unsuccessful in locating. Luckily the dude from Busan we were with is a total computer gaming nerd and knows PC bangs pretty well. We pulled into Bobo's PC zone a little after 4:30am and slept in nice comfy chairs until about 7:00am, for the huge fee of 3,000W each. Super cheap. Then we boarded our train for Daegu and headed home.

The festival, the blossoms, and the time we spent with friends were all amazing, and I can't wait to do something like this soon. Very soon. We're going to Seoul this weekend.

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