Tag Archives: Korea

Bamboo on the Internet for March, 2015

bamboo prawnsBetter late than never? Bamboo on the Internet for this month is delayed by an abundance of delightful small and large adventures – none of which have anything to do with bamboo. To start, Bamboo Prawns, but not as we know it. Should you find yourself in An Nhon Town in the central province of Binh Dinh, Vietnam, you could pick up a pair for as little as US$16.

bamboo bikeNow that bamboo bikes are all the rage, the competition is fierce to gain an edge over all the other bikes on the market. Last month I wrote about a bamboo-flax composite bicycle. This month I’m bringing your attention to a bamboo-balsa composite frame with 3D printed parts. The bike has an inner layer of carbon fiber, followed by laminated layers of woven bamboo, a balsa core, another layer of woven bamboo, and finally a protective layer of resin.

Learn how to make fire with bamboo. The lesson starts at 4.45 minutes:

bamboo massageAnother must-have from Japan. Chris sent me a photo of a bamboo massage tool. It’s hollow, and he assures me it’s not as uncomfortable as it looks. (Thanks, Chris.)  Tattoos created with bamboo needles on the other hand, are painful. Read a first-hand account of a Westerner getting some traditional tattoos at Wat Bang Phra in Thailand. Interestingly, he mentions that invisible tattoos are becoming popular. Using sesame oil instead of ink, the tattoos still imbue the same protection as ink tattoos because the monks use the same process, design, mantra and powers as they do for ink tattoos.

winerackThis bamboo wine rack caught my attention for it’s sheer simplicity. But once you start looking at wine racks on Amazon, there are lots of different designs.

To finish up, here is another purely gratuitous image involving food. If you’re lucky enough to be dining out in Seoul, you’ll find the Spring Bamboo Delicacies special set at The Westin Chosun. bamboo shoots, bamboo spring

Everyday Bamboo – South Korea

Like Japan, bamboo in South Korea is firmly embedded in the local material culture. In this post I’m sharing a few everyday bamboo things I came across while wandering around southern parts of South Korea earlier this year.

bamboo gloves

EvrdyBamboo SK (7)Lightweight white cotton gloves have a thousand and one uses. These ones are bamboo though. They are intimidatingly pristine fresh out of the packet. Just the thing for protecting your hands against blisters from bamboo brooms.

bamboo saltSouth Korea is an especially great place for eating, (although maybe a little challenging for vegetarians). Snack foods abound. I found these roasted almonds with bamboo salt in the local supermarket. Very tasty. The same supermarket sold bamboo salt toothpaste.

Damyang is rightly famous for dining out, and is famed throughout South Korea for it bamboo dishes. As a major bamboo centre, Damyang also has plenty of shops specialising in just bamboo products. They smell fantastic.

bamboo

bambooThe 4 hour bus trip from Busan to Gwangu, (to get to Damyang), is broken up with a stop at a standard highway roadhouse. There is lots of food, bathroom facilities, clothing stores and stalls selling useful things. One stall was like a mini hardware (my kinda shop). Amongst its impressive selection, it sold everything you’d need to harvest bamboo: like bamboo saws, bamboo knives, splitter, gloves… Just in case you’ve come out without yours.

Do you have a favourite everyday bamboo story?

Damyang Bamboo Museum

TheBM lift doors bamboo museum at Damyang is quite a treat for anyone with more than a passing interest in the uses of bamboo. One room is dedicated to an exhibit about how bamboo grows, but the museum concentrates on displays that cover every imaginable use of bamboo, and then some. Even the lift doors have a bamboo motif.

Many of the displays, unfortunately for me, remain a mystery, as the museum provides very little interpretation in English. Given the number of other native English speakers I saw during my visit (none), this is hardly surprising.

One whole room is devoted to photos, graphics, and written information about the production and benefits of bamboo salt. But that’s all I can tell you about it really, as only Korean is used for interpretation. I’m sure it’s fascinating.

bamboo museumThere are several souvenir shops attached to the museum. Each one offers a slightly different range of bamboo products. They all smell wonderful – like freshly dried bamboo, a grassy, woody, friendly, comforting kind of scent.

The bamboo museum sits among gardens, nurseries, sculptures, and, of course, its own little bamboo forest.bamboo museum Bamboo museum Bamboo museum

I’ve got stacks more photos of displays within the museum, but inserting photos into the blog using a 7 in. tablet is testing my patience unnecessarily. I am on holiday, after all.

bamboo charcoal, bamboo museumThe bamboo museum in Damyang is short walk from the bus station and a very long walk from the bamboo forest. From Gwangju, a good base to visit Damyang, take local bus 311 from outside the Gwangju bus terminal. Where else might you see a bamboo charcoal dividing wall?

Juknokwon – the bamboo forest, Damyang

As you climb up the stone stairs at the entrance of Juk-nok-won, relax and feel the breeze blow among trees and refresh your tired body and soul. Walking in the bamboo woods, with the crisp sound of bamboo leaves and sunlight spreading over you, is an uplifting feeling. (From the official brochure).

bamboo forestBamboo swaying gently in the breeze, broad paths to stroll along, small pagodas for resting… It all sounds peaceful and idyllic. The bamboo forest at Damyang is beautiful, but peaceful it is not.

The day I visited the bamboo forest there was quite a crowd. Yes, there was a major festival in full swing beside the forest, but a bloke playing music with an amplifier (not bamboo) to promote his CDs? It was really loud. And the music was a bizarre Korean interpretation of old-style Western crooner-type songs.

bamboo forestWhen I did get far enough away from him to be comfortable, I spotted a pagoda through the bamboo and went over for a short rest. There were some old women sitting about. I thought they were resting too. No. They were exercising. To music, of course.

And, similarly to Taiwan, people like to stroll around in nature carrying, and sharing with everyone, all manner of music. No, there is not enough noise in the world – we need to make more.

bamboo forest

Where else might you find a traditional house with an electric massage chair?

There are lots of birds inside the forest. In between the family groups, the girls in high heels, the lovers, and the sharers of music, there are small pockets of peace. Within these pockets, birds can be heard. By standing still, the birds can be seen too, hopping around in the bamboo leaf litter that covers the ground, flitting from culm to culm.

It’s all too brief though.

Bamboo rice in Damyang

Wandering around Damyang for the bamboo festival there is very little to assist non-Korean speakers, probably because there are few non-Koreans. When I saw a restaurant  that provided an English translation of their small menu, I dived in.

Eating in Korea is a social thing, so as a solo traveler I was not surprised to get some strange looks, even a few sympathetic ones. But here I was at the Damyang Bamboo Festival and I was hungry. I ordered the bamboo rice set.

bamboo festival

The first arrivals. Fresh bamboo shoots to the left.

Several side dishes arrived and I started. I was feeling pleased with my choice as it all looked quite manageable. Wrong. More side dishes arrived, then the bamboo rice.

The table that seats four diners was full of dishes. Each one was small and special.

bamboo festival, bamboo rice

Bamboo rice to the left.

I tried all of them but could only finish some of them. It was just too much.

The bamboo rice had some kind of beans in with it too. I didn’t detect any special flavour to the dish because it was cooked in the bamboo, although I’m sure the locals would argue otherwise.

The Damyang Bamboo Festival, South Korea

Bamboo everything and more. The 16th Damyang Bamboo Festival is in full swing as I write. The otherwise quiet town of Damyang is noisy, chaotic, and everyone seems to enjoying themselves.

bamboo festivalThe festival is wrapped around the river on one side of the town, just beside the bamboo forest. There is everything one might expect to find at a summer festival in this part of the world: music, market stalls, parades, food, and, of course, bamboo.

bamboo festival

Bamboo baskets are strung along the bridges

Over the coming days you will see more posts here about the Bamboo Festival, the Bamboo Museum, and the famous Bamboo Forest in Damyang.

bamboo festival

Preparing for a parade

 

Fresh bamboo & clear spirit

bamboo festivalFresh bamboo & clear spirit is the slogan for the 16th Damyang Bamboo Festival. The festival is planned to run over four days from June 27 to 30, from 10 in the morning to 10 at night – if you happen to be in South Korea on those dates. I will be.

The festival schedule is now posted. There seems to be something for everyone, although not necessarily related to bamboo. A multicultural joint wedding, throwing bean bag game, and a Flash Mob are just a few events planned for the main stage. Hopefully this means I’m in for a very local event.

While the stage events are not really that tempting for me, the activities, exhibits, and stores are. Damyang is the centre of the South Korean bamboo universe. That alone is reason enough for me to go. But wait, there’s more: a bamboo museum; a bamboo theme park; a bamboo park; and hot baths perfumed with bamboo. Plus, another bonus, the province in which Damyang is located, Jeollanam-do, is especially famous for food. What better place than a local festival to sample great local food and delicacies?

You can reasonable expect to hear more about bamboo in South Korea over the next month or so. I’m also visiting Kyoto, another centre for bamboo craft (and food and hot baths).