When I first set out to travel the world, like everyone I had a dream. A dream to see and do everything possible. The reality of it all is that, it’s only a dream. I don’t really want to do everything, and I’m scared to do anything. The thought of venturing into unknown territory has always given me butterflies in my stomach. Like most scared travelers, I rely on the assistance of my friends when travelling as much as possible. Thank God, there are people in this world who love people. I tend to avoid a lot of first time travelling “alone” excursions. Then there are times when I do surprise myself, when I go at it alone.
Recently, I decided to not harbor in my apartment in the lovely Korean countryside to brave the unknown. This unknown happened to be a widely locally publicized festival (Yesan Story Festival) in my town that is actually twenty minutes from my home. I will admit, since I work within the city limits I go no further than I have to on a bus. Any travelling that involves me going anywhere has mostly been done by train. So, this was my first local adventure near home, and I was looking forward to seeing the unseen of Yesan. Luckily for me there was plenty of information posted everywhere about bus times and the event location. I read all of the signs so I was at the right place and even had the bus timetable. In my head I was prepared to take the free bus to the festival location. I read all of the signs so I was at the right place and I even had the bus timetable. After much waiting for a free small yellow bus that takes you directly to the festival dropping you right at the entrance. The only thing that came to my head was, “I wish I knew how to take the local bus there.” Like most of my great ideas they are ideas until I act upon them, but considering my lucky I stuck with the free bus. The bus ride wasn’t the best since there are people in this world that like to be lumped together like a can of sardines.
Once in the countryside, and happily off that bus I was amazingly surprised. For such a small festival it surpassed my expectation. There was everything about Yesan which is widely known for apples, and a friend told me ginseng (don’t know about ginseng). As I walked around, I was surrounded by the smell of deliclious foods scented in apples. Well, like a true “foodie” I followed my nose to those wonderful scents. What I found was apple marinated pork, apple wine, apple made tufo and lots of free apples. Also, there were venders everywhere selling the normal Korean street food, plus drinks loaded in sugar and free food samples from ready made pop rice to apple jam. I would love to tell you I tried the apple pork, but I didn’t. But something usually did happen to me involving an apple pie. Like anyone who happens to see a pie sitting on a table, and thinking “Wow, apple pie I have to have it.” That was me. It’s not like I see it everyday like I would at home (USA). In all smiles, I paid the money and asked for a pie.
Unfortunatly, I wasn’t given the response I was looking for, but instead an experience. I actually had to make my own pie, and it turned out pretty good. With little assistance (Bascially, I asked the lady to not help me. I don’t believe in many hands in my food.) I proceeded to follow the picture instructions. Once, finished I gave it to the lady in charge for baking and I set off to wander until it was finish. Walking towards the other booths I was able to taste apple tufo, and the highlight of my tasting was the delicious sauce that was paired with it. Needless to say there were too many people coming to the line for that sauce.By the way, it wasn’t made with apples and I didn’t get the recipe. I was able to taste apple wine which was really good, and reminded me of the wine I used to make with my great-grandmother. After feeding my face with some really good food, I picked up my finished pie.
As I set about eating my pie and walking through the festival I found other things of interest besides food. The festival offered bare hands fishing catching, traditional tea tasting and performances of various plays (dramatic pre-historic dinosaur story, high school performance of Chunhyang the “faithful” and other interesting comical performances). A lot of the performances were for kids and the kid at heart; reminding anyone that inside all of us there is a kid waiting to break free. As the day progressed to night, visitors were treated to a free concert with fireworks. For those that wanted music that is totally Korean this was the concert. Traditional dressed men and women playing traditional Korean instruments was a beautiful ending to an adventurous day.
All in all an adventure close to home reminds you that you don’t have to travel too far to have a great time. Find a local festival or event in your town and you may be surprised by what you find there.