Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cheongdo Bull Fighting

The village of Cheongdo is about an hour train ride from Busan. Not much goes on in this little farming town, but once a year for a week straight Cheongdo hosts a Bull Fighting competition. People come from near and far to watch these huge animals go head to head in the arena. Before attending this festival, we looked up the rules for this type of bull fighting. There are a few different techniques for fighting, but only one way the bulls can win a fight: by being the last one to turn their backsides to the other bull.

Here is the outside of the arena. There were local vendors selling all kinds of food and junk (really, just random, needless things). There were also many performers throughout the day inside and outside.

This was the arena in which the fighting took place. It was inside with a large retractable roof, and the temperature was not too bad inside. It began to rain later in the afternoon, so we were very blessed to have cover.

Each bull has its own trainer. These are usually farmers in the area who raise the bulls for this specific reason. The trainers are in the red and blue and stand in the arena with their bulls until the end of the fight. Doesn't seem like the best safety strategy, huh?

After the fight, leading his bull from the arena.
This is a video of how the fighting went. Sometimes it was really exciting, but sometimes the bulls would be idle for minutes and not move. But in this game, there are no stale mates, they will fight for as long as it takes until one turns its back on the other.

The cool posters they made for the event and put up everywhere! We happen to get our hands on one, too :)
Head to head!
Winner winner!! Here is a video of one bull finally giving up the fight. The winner celebrates by taking a victory lap around the arena.

Here's the jumbotron inside the arena. The bull on the right is named "Bin Laden". Haha. I think he actually won...
Loren playing with the mascot bull.

"Cute" police man and woman mascots. Not sure if they could have stopped any crimes in this outfit. And yes, we are wearing HUGE, blue paper visors that were given to us upon entering the festival.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Taejong Dae-Suicide Cliffs

Taejongdae is a rugged stretch of coastline, crowned by a 250 m-high cliff face. It is named after King Taejong Muyeol, who used to practice archery here. Inside the park, you can look down from an observation deck at the fishermen perched on the rocks below. The cliffs are nicknamed the Suicide Cliffs because of the number of young Koreans who have leapt off of them. Koreans live in a very stressful society, with lots of pressure on their young people. For many teenagers and young adults, it is to much for them to handle.

On the hike around the park we stopped at one observatory deck over looking the Sea of Japan.

View of the steep cliff face.
Here is the midway point of the park's loop. It serves as an observatory with a few telescopes and a small snack bar.
In order to prevent future suicides, the local government erected a stature of a mother watching over the cliffs. The Statue of Mother and Children was built in 1976. It helps remind those who about to commit suicide of their mother's unconditional love for them and will hopefully encourage them to not give up on life.
Video of the cliffs.

All of the nature and trees made us feel a bit more at home. It was nice to get a break from the busy and noisy city streets.
Being a Recreation and Parks major, Alaina LOVED these water faucets!

Taejong Dae is an island, so you have to take a bus to get there. Along the way you could see the bustling container port of Busan Harbor. Here we passed huge ships, warehouses, and more massive boats being constructed. Since it is the farthest point south of Busan, there are a lot of industries in this area.

We are heading back to the city. Alaina is sitting on a bus, with plenty of room everywhere around, yet this woman decides to stand as close as possible to my side, forcing me to stare out the window for the remainder of the ride. Koreans have no idea or understanding about 'personal space'.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jalgalchi Fish Market

Jalgalchi Fish Market is one of the most famous fresh fish markets in Korea. Early every morning, the fishermen bring in their catches of the day and supply the market with hundreds of thousands of creatures from the sea. It had an extremely pungent odor (of course) so we decided to go while the weather was still cool. Can't imagine what the smells would be like mid-summer...

Here is a panoramic view of the live fish market (click the play button to show this clip).

There are rows and rows of tanks filled with any and every type of sea creature you can imagine. Here are some muscles....not sure what the ones on the far left are, but Koreans say they are "very healthy" for you.

Here is an example of how most of the market transactions went down. Notice at the bottom of the screen, a fish escapes, falls on the floor and the man casually picks him up and throws him back into his tank.
A tank full of zebra fish!

Some really beautiful striped shrimp.
Crabs galore!

Of course they were many octopus (pi) for sale.
An octopus was trying to be friendly...but I think we scared him. It was a really funny feeling when he grabbed on to your finger.

Some Adjumas (older, married women) hacking away at the fresh catches. It seemed like the majority of workers here in the market were older women...where were all the men? Maybe out catching fish...?
This video pans from a cute little girl, to an Adjuma stripping the skin from sea worms (like eels). Notice how they are still alive and squirming when she throws their naked bodies into the bucket. Warning!! If you have a weak stomach, you may not want to watch this. It is quite disgusting.
Here is a huge hunk of shark meat! It took the woman a while to identify what type of fish this was in English ("chalk"). While we visited Jalgalchi for the purpose of experiencing the hectic and smelly sea creatures, most people actually purchase dinner here. It was interesting to see the bartering and buying that happened in this fish market.
Outside of Jalgalchi, in the streets, they also sell fish and other sea creatures. You can chose your meat of choice and they will fillet it and cook it (or make sushi) for you right there!
This is the port right outside of the market, where the fishermen bring in their success (or failure).
Drying fish on the railing for "fish jerkey". We sampled this at the tasted about like you would expect.

Above the ground-level, live fish market was a dried fish market. They sold all different types of dehydrated sea creatures, as well as fruit and other, unidentifiable items. Yes, those are dried octopus (pi) hanging above the products.
These are bins full of dried anchovies (bottom left). Whitney, Lauren and Loren....excited and ready to tried the fish samples!

Loren holds a Sting Ray!!