Lanterns on the water

Trip Start Oct 12, 2012
Trip End Oct 14, 2012

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Flag of Korea Rep.  ,
Saturday, October 13, 2012

We all woke early and rolled out. We needed to get across town to meet up with the tour group that was picking us up at Daejon Bus Terminal. We found a cab, found the terminal, found a Dunkin' Donuts, found some more travelers, and found our tour group without much issue.
Then we were on our way to Jinju. First we made a quick stop at a scenic outlook area, where we hiked up to look up at the imposing mountains, and down at the peaceful lake. That didn't take as long as expected so we decided to take advantage of the other interesting things in the area. Some of the group split off to visit a tiny zoo that was just below the scenic outlook. The rest of us went a bit further to check out an itty bitty amusement park. 
The amusement park was pretty abandoned except for the handful of people who were working there. We swept in, buying tickets for rides before really looking to see what they had. The most impressive thing appeared to be the tilt-a-whirl, so we got on board. Once we were locked into our seats, the attendant started up the ride and started playing Gangnam Style and we went wild. The cars started to rotate around each other and we were waving our arms, singing along with the music as we cruised around the space. Suddenly the music cut out and there was an announcement in Korean. Could we be stopping already? That couldn't have been enough time. The music blasted back to life and we jerked into super speed. We all gripped our lap bars as the cars whirled past each other at high speed. We rocked back and forth in our seats as we shifted at whip-lash speeds. Finally the ride slowed to a stop and we cheered, waving our hands in the air as we carefully removed ourselves from our seats. 
Next up was a cute little "ride" that consisted of a track that ran around the outside of the park, about a story off the ground. Little carts were fixed to this track, that you could pedal at your own pace. Cute, right? I ran up the steps after the group, claiming my cart and starting to pedal. Oh man, that was terrifying! Each little motion made the cart sway and jerk, tipping slightly back and forth on the narrow track. I leaned toward the center of my cart, as if that would prevent me from plummeting to my death. Well, the only option was to move forward so I pushed my cart into motion. Little by little I made my way around the track, laughing at my own discomfort
After that adventure we were all ready to get to the lantern festival. We boarded the bus and were off to Jinju. I got to sit next to an awesome South African chick named Nicola who chatted animatedly with me the entire weekend. After we got off the bus we checking into yet another Love Hotel and grabbed some lunch. Then we found the river where the festival was taking place and started to look around. The set up was pretty incredible and extensive. 
A significant length of the river was filled with large, colored lanterns in the shape of various things. These were massive lanterns in the shape of everything from Santa Clause, to dragons, to lions, and even Disney characters. More of these large, character lanterns lined the river to be admired up close, or posed with for pictures. 
On one side of the river there was a palace compound that was filled with paper mache figures that filled the grounds. The figures included everything from trees and birds, to soldiers with weapons, to posing royalty. People milled through the figures, admiring them and posing for pictures.
There were also countless tents selling food on a stick (my favorite kind of food) as well as various goods from a number of countries. The festival has an international flavor to it, including lanterns with images from various cultures. This bled over into the food and merchandise, offering us fascinating African and Native American gifts... and I got to eat some tasty Turkish kebab. I also found an adorable tiny wooden hippo carving at the Africa shop that I couldn't pass up. Shopping around the stalls was a blast.
We walked up and down the river as the sun set, criss-crossing back and forth over the river by small, floating bridges.  We ate and talked and wandered as darkness made the lanterns more and more impressive. Soon it was time to light the small lanterns and make a wish. No one in my group made a lantern to put on the water, but we watched quietly as dozens of others took their little paper lanterns down to the water's edge, lit the candle inside, and placed them tenderly on the surface of the water. We watched as the current carried the lanterns away, clusters of them getting stuck in the rocks on the bank. 
After such an active day we were starting to get tired so we made our way back to the Love Motel earlier than most. After playing cards for a while in one of the boy's rooms, the girls were ready to call it a night. 
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Carlo on

I'd be the first one to advocate "Pedal fast, take chances" -- but I think I speak for everyone here when I say we're glad you were not injured on the rickety pedal car ride. ;)

Don't bite the hippo! :D

Sarah on

looks like and amazing festival - so glad you are having adventures! ( and thank you for sharing them with us via blog)

Mom on

These photos from your trip are amazing. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us. Your writing is so colorful, I feel like I'm right there seeing it with you.

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