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Published: June 15th 2009
Well it looks like I better get cracking! It’s been a while since I last wrote and I seem to have accumulated so many photos over the past two months that I’m trying to establish the chronology of events….Ah yeh Nonsan Dalgi Chuktche.
Easter weekend, it’s so weird being in a country that has absolutely no Easter. I mean how on earth can you celebrate Christmas and no Easter that’s just totally not right, anyhow that was the case here in the Republic, not a single acknowledgment of the event, in fact not even a retailers acknowledgment so not a single Easter egg was to be found and definitely no Good Friday or Easter Monday and no family time! Kinda weird to look back and think that a year ago I was lapping up the sun in the Delta and now I’m half way across the world! A group of us did decide to make the most of Easter by gracing the Nonsa Dalgi Chuktche AKA Strawberry festival, in the buzzing metropolis of Nonsan, with our presence.
Nonsan is a tiny hole towards the South of South Korea and it’s safe to say that if I
getting settled in for the journey.
had landed up in this little middle of nowhere one horse town I might have packed my bags after a week and headed back home this being said however it did make for an interesting and enlightening weekend adventure!
We got ourselves on one of KORails very efficient trains and after a few hours we arrived on the main road that is Nonsan. Since Nonsan is possibly only one road big at least searching for a motel should be easy, making our way from the top of the street we approaching two spots marked with the motel sign, only to find that they had both closed up shop. Hoping to be third try lucky we headed down a set of somewhat dodgy steps that lead to another supposed motel. It’s safe to say the spot was so shady that we couldn’t decided if we were entering a brothel or a motel so we made a beeline for the light of day and thankfully and luckily found ourselves an alternative napping location . Well perhaps lucky is a strong word since the accommodation was hardly amazing (stunning dimly lit hall ways, maroon carpets, faded posters of San Francisco bridge and a
Nothing like a properly decorated old school retro food cart!
woman wearing an 80’s, locomotion, spandex leotard, and aerobics pumps) at this point however as long as it was clean and cheap were weren’t complaining and at least I can say I have visited a dinkum South Korean outback town motel it was classic!
What is most amusing for me about places like Nonsan is how you become a complete spectacle. Walking around Nonsan felt like I had walked into a completely different world where foreigners don’t ordinarily exist. Everywhere we went we had beady local eyes giving us the once over. I must say I quite enjoy the perplexed look that falls upon Ajoshies faces when I tell them I am from South Africa, the sign language that follows when trying to ascertain how I can be African if I have white skin is just classic! They really are great people I have to say wonderfully naive but always friendly and interested in those that are foreign in their little back of beyond environment!
After dumping our bags in our phenomenally wall papered room and figured we best head to the festival since they had advertised a fireworks and it was starting to get dark. Now when
you think strawberry festival (well at least when you are me) you picture lush green strawberry fields something like when you head down to Stellenbosch right…well turns out this was a little different. Firstly there were no visible strawberry fields what so ever instead we were welcomed by a dusty, open show ground with myriads of tents lined up to sell strawberries (already closed up for the evening). Apparently with night fall the strawberry selling stops and the night life comes alive. Admittedly we had expected as much so the idea was to spend the night enjoying the fireworks “magnificent” fireworks display allowing the following day to indulging in strawberries!
Turned out the evening entrainment was rather entertaining and I mean entertaining in the sarcastic ‘haha’ sense! The festival was abundant with a much older crowd and the highlight of entertainment was the load of karioki type singing going down along with some classic cross dressing musicians singing classic Korean songs while the older folk clapped in unison and contributed to the already horrid singing. It all made for a very good laugh and one very different experience to what was expected.
As for the fireworks which were
supposed to be a highlight, well it’s safe to say if you had sneezed you would have missed them. While the fireworks display was next to nonexistent there was a consolation, some very nice traditional dancing which is always a treat. After a good couple of hours of amusement at the evenings Dalgi Chuktche night proceedings we decided to bid the show grounds goodnight and go in search of a spot for some sustenance.
Now ordinarily in South Korea the two things that are never in shortage are Nurae bangs and Coffee-Hoffs, unless you are visiting a little spot like Nonsan. We trawled the high street in search of a watering hole but there was no sight of anything, in fact high street was pretty much closed up for the night and even the local establishments were few and far between so we settled for a stop in at a trust familymart where we stocked up on some essentials and we then headed back to our Motel for a chilled evening.
Sunday morning arrived and we needed to make the most of it since we had to catch a train in the early afternoon if we were going to
a bad attempt at trying to capture a nice sun set through the window
make it home. Making the most of a morning is very difficult when things only start opening at 10am. First stop of the morning would need to be a leisurely breakfast to allow time for things to get going. Yay, our one and only sign of Easter, the little bakery had an Easter poster on the shop window and the lovely little baker gave us each a little chocolate. Not quite the same as being back home but sweet none the less.
The Strawberry festival, while all in all an interesting and insightful (from a cultural point of view) turned out to be somewhat overrated. There we 100s of boxes of strawberries on sale most of which had done their time in the sun or in a transportation vehicle and the crowds made it a little difficult to engage in any of the other cake icing, strawberry papier-mâchéing and animal petting but this being said we got our fair share of photos with guys dressed up like giant strawberries, we got to see a great Tai Kwando performance, we got accosted by a three tooth bearing ajuma and we ate enough strawberries for a life time so it was
Laura and I
Bit blurry but what can you do :-)
well worth the random excursion!
At 1:15 we decided we best leave the enthralling festival and make our way back to the train station. We had entrusted out bags to the motel owner but had forgotten to mention the fact that we were catching a train at 2pm so on returning to retrieve our bags the dear motel owner had clearly headed out to indulge in some strawberries himself ….so much for 24hr reception service hey. Since, apparently, I speak Korean (NOT) the girls made it my job to call the emergency cell number on the reception window. Somewhat classic trying to communicate with a Korean speaking person over the phone cause your hand gesticulations just don’t seem to help get the matter of urgency across. It’s hard to say how but 15 minutes later the somewhat annoyed, previously friendly, motel owner graced us with his presence ensuring that we would not be spending another night in Nonsan.
After a fun and interesting weekend out of the Seoul smog we headed back to the city for yet another week!
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