After returning from Hahoe Folk village, I stopped in downtown Andong to try and find where the main area of festival was being held. I had an idea where it was but sometimes Google maps fails me here in Korea. In this case, it had me walking through a bunch of train tracks to get to the area I was looking for. I strolled through parts of downtown, walked through the traditional market, passed some shops, and even happened along an area where they were doing some mask festivities. It seemed that there were about four different areas you could go to enjoy parts of the festival. Downtown, they had people dressed up in masks in front of store fronts. Below are a few pictures I took as I made my through town.
I eventually found the venue, after about an hour and a half of walking around and halfway searching for it. I was getting a little hungry and I knew there would be food there.
Finally I made it, and it was packed. It was easy to locate food alley, just follow to crowd. And so I did, walking shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the people.
Here I will give you a cultural observation. I may have made it before in a previous post, but I feel like this is a good place to re-visit it. Here, in Korea, be prepared to be mowed down by people as you are walking. You will be shoved, you will be physically moved, and if someone is coming from the opposite direction and you are in what they believe is their path, it will be up to you to move out of their way, because they won’t. Instead they will play chicken with you, and will ultimately just run straight into you, berate you, then give you a dirty look and a cluck of their tongue. Here in Korea, it is totally a dog eat dog world, survival of the fittest, eat or be eaten, and any other idiom that may fit this situation. I’m sure this is big city culture, but it is nothing like I have ever experienced before in the U.S.
Now, back the festival. There were all kinds of different tents that were overflowing with foods, goods, artisan crafts, and what I would call “just seen on T.V” junk. You could hear music playing, people talking, vendors selling, and children laughing. It isn’t unlike any other fair that I have been to before. I didn’t stay too long. I caught a little bit of a dance show and saw some artwork. It was getting cold and I didn’t come prepared for the drop in temperature. I hailed a taxi back to the temple.
Day two is almost to a close. The monk had turned the Ondal (floor heating) on and the floor was nice and toasty. I took a shower and settled in for the night.
I awakened around 4:30am to the rhythmic beat of a drum , or maybe more like a gourd or hollow block of wood being hit. It was time for their morning chants. Although it initially wakes me up, the rhythmic beat always lulls me back to sleep until my alarm goes off at 6:00am – the time I have to get up and get ready for breakfast. I make my way to the dining hall and begin to feel drops come down. I checked the weather and sure enough, it was going to rain most of the morning and afternoon and I didn’t think to bring an umbrella. Oh well.
After breakfast, I just hung out on the porch adjacent to my room and enjoyed the view as the rain fell. After about 30 minutes I went back in and took a snooze. Around 10:30, I woke up to the sound of heavy rain. The monks were beginning their chanting again so I decided to bring a book out onto the porch and listen.
Soon it was time to eat lunch. After lunch, Sirchon, the main monk, invited me to have coffee in his sitting room. The abbot and the caretaker joined us. We chatted about where we were from and the places we have traveled. We talked coffee and tea, and also about the mask festival itself. The floor was warm, the coffee superb, and the company was delightful despite the language barrier. It was one of the highlights of my trip. I love travel, and I love visiting cities and experiencing their hustle and bustle. But, I love returning to a quiet place, with few people. I am a true social introvert. I enjoy being in the mix of things, not necessarily as a participator, but as an observer, but I also need a quiet space to recharge and regroup.
After coffee, the rain had let up and Sirchon offered me an umbrella to take with me. I made my way back the bus stop and waited for my bus downtown. This time I vowed I would not wander aimlessly and would find the venue without any problem.
Well, that did not happen. I found the venue, but beforehand, got…well, I wouldn’t say lost per se, I think I just decided to take the longest possible route. I walked a lot. But, I discovered one of the two stone pagodas (I think the five storied one) and this beautiful park that is part of the Andong dam project.
After a few miles of walking. I finally found where I wanted to be. I made my way to the theater area where most of the traditional dances were being held, bought my ticket, and sat down. The dance I was about the see was from the Yangju area. It was all in Korean, but from what I could gather, it was about arranging a marriage for a young maiden, choosing the right groom, and collecting the dowry. Then it changed over to another story about an older woman dying. It was very Shakespearesque, a comedy amidst a tragedy. Despite not understanding it, I really enjoyed the whole theatrics of it. Later I saw a creative modern mask dance that I also enjoyed. Here are a few pictures.
Despite the rainy start, it was another eventful day in Andong. I was scheduled to leave the next day around 3pm so I still had half a day to explore a little more. Next week, I will share my last afternoon at the longest walking bridge in Korea and some pictures of the scenic ride home on the bus. I hope you enjoy this weeks adventures in Andong. And that everyone has had a wonderful Halloween weekend.