February 26
Home Safe from Korea

I received a couple of emails last week urging me to be cautious and travel safe. I was off on a quick trip to Suwon City just south of Seoul Korea and the week before, some anti-American demonstrations had greeted President Bush's visit. Fortunately, the most dangerous thing I encountered was the food...

That's not to say that this was an easy festival. In fact, I wish some of the folks who criticize our AKA convention could have come along!

The entire event was held in a gravel parking lot, punctuated by lamp posts, and surrounded by vendor tents. There was a stage at one end, chairs and tables scattered around, and kids flying kites everywhere. Marching musical troupes wound through the audience. The wind, when it blew at all, came from just about every direction.

Suwon Festival Panorama

Oh, and I nearly forgot -- there were two huge "prayer pyres" in the center of the flying area. Darn -- maybe that's what we've been missing -- bonfires in the middle of our kite fields!!

Lighting the Pyre Fanning the Flames Fire Parade My Note -- Can You Find It??

Apparently you cover these piles of wood and brush with messages and wishes, and then incerate them. Can you find the one I wrote??

Stage Performances

Fortunately, this was a full-blown cultural gathering and not just a kite event. I say "fortunately because it was darned difficult to keep a kite in the air without it getting caught on a lamp, falling into the crowd, or catching fire.

A large stage, decorated with giant Korean Fighters, was at one end of the venue and through the weekend, we enjoyed traditional music, dancing, a fashion show, and constant promotion of the Soccer World Cup coming up in Suwon this summer.

Fan Dance Tradition! Drummer Girls Drummer Boys

You thought I was joking about the food...

Noodle Soup Lunch Companions -- Modegi, Michael, and Sachico Kim Chi Cabbage -- Yum!

Kite guests at the festival inluced Masaaki and Sachico Modegi from Japan, Michael Alvarez from Australia, Gerard Clement from France, and a team from China. We were hosted by the Mr. Roe of the Korean Kite Association who made sure we were comfortable, well looked after, and fed all the kim-chee we could eat.

I have to say that despite some flying challenges, that we really were treated well. The Koreans are great hosts and full of laughter.

We had a great time with the kids -- and when I got my large Cat into the air, had to chase them out of the line and tail just like here at home. Funny how kids are the same wherever you go.

Most of the time our gear sat on the edge of the field as we waited for wind. I took foils, inflatables, a giant penguin, mid sized cat, and pile of spinning starbursts and jellyfish. In other words, I dragged 150 pounds of the wrong kites to Korea. A small bag of roks, genkis and stunters would have worked much better.

So what do you do at a Korean Kite Festival if you can't fly kites??

Basically we sat back and enjoyed the show. I brought a few short videos back if you'd like to share the complete experience.

We finished up Sunday with a bit of flying and then headed for another fine traditional meal. That means dining on the floor at short tables with your legs tucked under you. Great food, aching ankles, but a wonderful experience.

With flights leaving Monday evening, we were able to spend a few hours sightseeing in Suwon.

Now check this out -- its a combination coffee machine, soft drink vendor, and phone booth. Kinda like one-stop vending. And I have no idea if it really works!

I left the group at about three and headed for Seoul and the new airport. Air Canada was bringing me home. It was a long, cold, uncomfortable flight, and I'm still waiting to see if they find my second kite bag. But that's another story.

Kiters and Kids Kids and Kites Our Kites - On the Ground Drum Parade One-Stop Vending

I arrived home Monday night and have plans to head for Zilker Park in Austin on Friday morning. The travel season is just getting started. See you out there somewhere!!

Here's something new. We've expanded our popular Pillow Tubes and are now offering them in custom lengths!

The standard Pillow has six panels and sells for $99. We'll add as many pillow sections as you want. After the first six, they cost $10 each. So a 16 pillow tube would be $199 and a 25 pillow tube $289.

Super Pillows

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