Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday at the Riverside

Spring and fall when the weather is bright and sunny, the riverside is swarming with people, especially on weekends. This Sunday was gorgeous after a slightly chilly spell so the riverside wasn't as packed, but it certainly was filled with entertaining activities for people to watch or participate in!

Bee-sting Therapy

Many times through the spring, summer and now the fall I've seen middle-aged and elderly people collecting bees. I'm passionately interested about the therapy used, how to do it, how effective and so many questions. Most people haven't talked with me - some because maybe they didn't want to, but others seem to feel that the foreigner just won't understand. Today this gentleman was really helpful and informative. Yeah, I certainly didn't understand everything and he wasn't very talkative but he sure did give me a lot of info about his collecting method which he feels is superior to others. [I agree. Others have used tweezers to snatch bees badly damaging the ones they catch as well as the very high percentage that gets away; others have places a baggy over the flower and bee and shook the bee to the bottom of the deep baggy where others were balled up, of course injuring the bees with all the rough shaking and them being compressed in such a small tight hot space; others use bottles but none as confidently or gently as this guy!]

He uses sugar cubes stuck inside the plastic water bottle so that caught bees won't get hurt or want to fly out when he's trying to grab others. Small holes allow ventilation and he doesn't bang the bees around and injure them, because he's collecting them for therapy, bee-sting therapy. He tries to get at least 25 stings for effective therapy. I didn't understand what the problem he was exactly treating but rheumtism and "places where people ache" seem to cover it. My friend in the states who has fibromyalgia says the beestring therapy she tried was somewhat helpful, but I've never talked with anyone in Korea who has explained more about the therapy on a deeper level, and where the idea and treatment came from. It's certainly another fascinating aspect of either traditional Chinese or Korean medicine!

Drum Concert

Events like picnic fundraisers, concerts and competitions are held at one of the many riverside park areas. Today there was a rousing drum concert with precision repercussion power rolling from the throats of the drums. Absolutely loved it! I think it was for a fund-raiser for perhaps physically and mentally handicapped youth and their families. Many young people with evidence of cerebral palsy, Mongoloidism, and other disabilities were swarming the area with care-givers, volunteers and family in attendance. The drum concert was one of the beginning events held and other musical events followed. Food tents were set up busting with people preparing hot "picnic foods" over bunsen burners.

[Kimbap boxes made early in the morning by some small company used to be the traditional picnic food but now people actually bring in cooking equipment and make hot food. Kimbap is not so commonly seen anymore as street food either ... and I really miss it. But according to my friends, cheap oils are used in making kimbap so people shouldn't eat it. And my thoughts, and cheap oils at high temperatures aren't used for making the now ubiquitous and very fattening fried street foods? Or white bread colored with caramel coloring is better for you than rice? I don't get it. Why spurn what one knows for something unknown but which tastes better, but in the long run will do a lot more harm to the body? Sigh.]

Kite Flying

Kite flying offers surprising constrasts in Korea. In the US children like playing with kites in the summer. However, in Korea children do like playing with kites but this has been traditionally a winter sport. With the right winds blowing on cold winter days making a blue cloudless sky, the wind and sky were perfect for enticing a colorful display of kites high. Also traditionally there were kite fights, but I'm not sure in what period they took place, which ethnic group introduced them or whether they originated in Korea. But what did take place traditionally long ago in Korea was a special kite flying on Lunar New Year's day. Children would fly kites in the sky, make a wish and then cut their kite strings to release their kite, aka wish, in hopes of having their wish be realized. I've heard that this tradition was causing a lot of kite trash around [much like releasing balloons in the atmosphere] so the government put a stop to it. As best as I can tell, this tradition stopped sometime in the 1980s.

Anyway, kite flying has become an activity for elderly men, and today there were three out flying their kites. There was also a father teaching his little girl how to fly a simple kite, but he sure seemed more interested in flying it than she. She quickly lost interest because she couldn't get it up in the air, not surprising since the elderly pros were really struggling too. What I love about these picts is the string cradle that Koreans use for easily spinning to allow quick soaring flights or to harness in a falling kite. Korea is famous for their kite skills and kite making is something that all Korean children learn in kindergarten and elementary school, kite making with kites that look like the Korean flag. Even festivals frequently offer this as a craft option.

Korean Croquet

I wish I knew the name of this "sport" but it definitely looks like croquet until you watch for a couple of minutes, then you begin to wonder why players sometimes overlap playing time, seem to hit more than they should, and the way they play in teams is REALLY confusing. However, this is definitely an old people's game. I have never, ever seen anyone under 50 playing. Women do enjoy it, but men thrive on it and play pretty much in all four seasons. For that reason, all along the long riverside bike trails is a quite occasion croquet court. The courts usually appear in areas near large apartment complexes, and they get a lot of grooming to maintain their flat, unscuffed appearance. There's one particular court where a gentleman plays and thinks I should hit the ball for "experience". I never have because I plainly don't understand their rules; they're different than how I learned croquet, and if I'm going to hit the ball, I'm going to play a whole game ... maybe not skillfully, but knowledgeable at least.

Car Racing

Racing remote control cars is the latest craze along the riverside. Old and young alike line up in droves to watch people "drive" their remote cars around and around and around and around in circles. Hypnotizing indeed! The cars aren't racing really; they're just going around, making maneuvers, and sometimes jumping. Nothing exciting but crowds get attracted. I have to smile. People go to the riverside for exercise, but this is the most sedentary activity here ... and with lots of people doing it - nothing!

Playing ball and Fishing for ball

Loads and loads of guys make teams and play ball, or vigorously practice solo shots. Really blood pumping workouts! Well, today another ball bounced into the dirty river, and one of the local fishermen was recruited to help. That fisherman was good at throwing his line just on the other side of the ball, but the slight current was pulling the ball away and eventually the poor fisherman had to admit defeat ... and another ball now bobs in the middle of the river. It just wouldn't be Sunday without adding at least one ball to the river!

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