Blue skies greeted the cherry blossoms on Jeju Island. Photo by Douglas MacDonald.
It is that time of year when self-cam shots threaten to crash the Kakao system and the avenues of Jeju are full of would-be romantics, picking petals for their dearest, while bending to achieve the optimum 45-degree angle - into oncoming traffic - for that perfect shot.
Yes, the cherry blossoms are in bloom.
Traditionalists might prefer the erstwhile site down on Jeonnong-ro, while the unconventional sing the praises of Jeju National University’s blossoming avenues. Southsiders, naturally, scoff at these, proclaiming their first-in-the-nation bloomers as the benchmark.
Vendors served up a variety of meats and sweets which for many rival the blossoms themselves. Photo by Douglas MacDonald
Nevertheless, the Cherry Blossom Festival, March 29-31, was held around the Jeju Sports Complex last weekend and the scenes on the banks of the Hancheon (river) were something to behold, as blossoms bloomed and high school students flocked.
Those mainstays of the Korean festival, the white tents, funneling visitors towards the attractions, were also out in force. For many the tents are the attraction themselves, as an earthy feast of makkeoli (rice wine) and jeon (Korean pancakes) sweetens any festival experience.
If you can resist such temptations, a wander around the tents is a real assault on the senses. Silkworm pupae (beondegi) scent pervades the air, mixing with roast pig, festival sweets and fruit. The initial joy of eating might even lead to regret as there is little room to try more. Where there is a will, however, there is a way.
Couples strolled under the blossoms on Jeonnong-ro. Photo bu Douglas MacDonald.
A great touch of the festival is the fact that the tents raise money for a supported cause. There was a tent for bereaved families of the Jeju Massacre, Jeju multicultural families, welfare programs, environmental programs, and many more. This really helps when making a decision on where to eat.
Of course, the main attraction are the blossoms. To the west of the bus station, on the east bank of the Hancheon, the blossoms are beautifully backdropped by the rocky dry river bed. With soft evening light dappling the petals and glinting through the boughs, it was the perfect walk to aid digestion.
After a few minutes you are ready to assault the tents again for round two.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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