• Hi Everyone,

        I hope you had a chance to go back and look at the pictures I was able to add to the May 29 notes.  Tanabata is something with all the wishes hanging and it you have never heard of glamping before, check out that "tent".  I put a  number of pictures there for you.  Some came out flattened a bit - gotta love html coding for websites.

       So, last time I talked about summer in Japan. Today let's look at China and Korea - I have not seen these in person LOL.


    As we know, China is a large country with a long distance to cover going north to south.  That said, the majority of the land looks to be between the same main latitude lines as the continental United States.  According to China Discovery, summer in China is from June to August, featuring hot and wet. Located in the northern hemisphere, China gets the most direct solar radiation on June 22th, making China is one of the hottest countries in the world. Along with the high temperature and rainy days throughout China, except the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, there is not much difference between north and south China, due to the monsoon climate. The northern China cities do really hot in June and July.  I would point out here that Chinese cities probably have a lot of smog.  You may have heard that during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, China made the local factories shut down for two weeks prior to the start, and didn't start them up until afterwards.  I have seen pictures of Tiananmen Square wehre the smog is so bad, you can't see across the Plaza.  It is a wonder what the health of people in Bejing might be like breathing all that in.

    China Discovery also says:

    There are many great places to go in the Summer months to avoid the sweltering summer heat. Tibet is perfect to go in summer time, with the mildest weather and beautiful scenery, most of local festivals take place in July and August. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, featuring the quietness and cool summer is a great chance to get into the Avatar world by total nature; the Yangtze River Cruise is such a leisure and relaxed trip to sightseeing China Landscape by light breezing; Or you may come to some beach cities like Qingdao, Xiamen or Dalian to catch some rays.

    Well one would expect Tibet to have cool mountain weather, being up in the Himalayas. I tend to think of Tibet as a separate country, but China does have control of it.

    So what to do in the Summertime.  Schools have off from early July through late August just like we do. I take it they may not have the entire two monthes by the wording on Trip Savvy. Trip Savvy also tells us that China is hot and muggy in the summer.  They list the best Summer activities in China as:

    1) Beach time.  Recommended beach towns are Xiamen which is opposite Taiwan on the Chinese coast, Qingdao, and Sanya in Hainan Island in the South China Sea. Xiamen is a small city with long beaches, seaford restaurants, and a laid back atmosphere.  Qingdao is a smaller city with famous beaches, and Sanya is mentioned as being for serious beach- seekers with top class resorts and is for a classy beach holiday.  To me Sanya sounds like those all-inclusive beach resort type places you hear about in the Caribbean. 

    Baicheng Beach, Xiamen, China   Baicheng Beach in Xiamen, China

    2) Seeing natures and being in the mountains. Again Tibet is mentioned and there are some great summer festivals going on.  Jiuzhaigou is a famous national park and reserve in Sichuan Province. Many ethnic Tibetans live there so it's culturally interesting but the reason to go is the scenery.  Mount Song & Shaolin Temple is a great destination if you want to combine a little history and religion with your nature walk. Yes, Shaolin Kung Fu was born here. There is a Kung Fu performance hall, theShaolin temple, and the Pagoda Forest.

    Mount Song and Shaolin Temple   Mount Song and Shaolin Temple

    Kung Fu display   Kung Fu display

    Four Buddhist Holy Mountains draw thousands of tourists and climbers every summer.  Also mentioned here is the Great Wall.  You don't have to go far into the wilderness.  Go there if you are near Beijing, along with hundreds of other tourists.  One section mentioned is the Mutianya sectionas it looks out over a boundless stretch of lush forests.


    Mutianyu Great Wall   The Great Wall at Mutianyu

    3) Most Chinese cities have a park to visit.  One that is highlighted is The Giant Panda Breeding Base in Chengdu.  Also Suzhou's famous gardens. Of course people go to famous sites such as the Great Wall as mentioned above, and the Imperial Garden in the Forbidden City. You can go boating on Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace, or walk among the lotuses in Beihai Park - this was a royal park for the royal family members. There is a lotus festival here from late June to mid-August when the flowers are in full bloom.

    Imperial Garden  The Imperial Garden in Summer

    Summer Festivals in China:

    Dragon Boat Festivals: In China these are in June.  It is an important public holiday! Dragon boats remind us of the crew boats full of rowers, but are a little big and brightly painted.  They are made to look like - Dragons!  According to China Highlights, Dragon boat racing is said to originate from the legend of people paddling out on boats to seek the body of patriotic poet Qu Yuan (343–278 BC), who drowned himself in a River. He was exiled Warring States Period of ancient China. He drowned himself in the Miluo River on the 5th day of the 5th Chinese lunar month, when his beloved Chu State fell to the State of Qin.  Hence, the races are held on the 5th day of the 5th Chinese lunar month, generally in June.

    Dragon boats in Hong Kong   Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong

    Many practices such as hanging mugwort to ward off disease and wearing perfumed pouches to ward off evil have fallen by the wayside in the cities, but may still occur in the countryside.  The races and eating sticky rice dumplings continues!  Races are held all over the country. China Highlights mentions 4 big festivals in Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong, the Yuenang International in Yuenang Province, in Guizhou, and Hangzhou City.

    You don't have to go to China to see dragonboats. We have festivals here the United States!  Ours are not limited to June for that 5th day of the 5th month.  New York City has a big festival.  There are several boat clubs in the New York City area, and the 30th Annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is scheduled to be held August 8 and 9 this year in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens.  I don't know what will happen with that because of the Coronavirus.  The Festival would normally feature all kinds of food boothes, races throughout the day, arts and craft boothes, storytellers, and many community based groups with booths. It is a big NYC festival which means a lot of people close together.

    We even have a dragonboat festival here in the Hudson Valley. Crew racing is a big deal in the Hudson Valley.  Many local high schools have crew teams. (I know we don't but Kingston, Arlington, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh....)  by Marist College.  July 18th was to be the 4th Annual Paddle for Homes Annual Dragon Boat Race and River Festival on the Hudson River.  Forty-two foot long dragon boats were to be racing down the majestic Hudson River in head-to-head competition in support of Habitat for Humanity Dutchess County's. Sadly it is cancelled for 2020, but there have been dragons on the Hudson, and will be again after crisis ends.  Admission was free to watch the races.  Like any other festival, there would be food boothes, vendors, cultural displays.  If it is back next sumer, do go.  It is a fun day running from 8AM -3:30 with races all day.  It takes off from the Hudson River Rowing Association boathouse behind the southern end of Marist College's campus.

    Shoton Festival in Tibet: 

    China Highlights says it is one of the most popular traditional festivals in Tibet. It celebrates eating yogurt, the Tibetan monks who end their season of meditation, the watching of Tibetan dramatic operas, and Tibetan Buddhism. It is held annually in the month of August, or late in the sixth month or early in the seventh month of the Tibetan calendar.

    On the first day of the festival, the Thangka, a Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton, silk appliqué, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala, is scheduled to be unveiled at the Drepung Monastery. Then the celebrations will begin at Norbulingka. The residents of Lhasa will gather in the park and celebrate by eating yoghurt and watching the operas. Professional and amateur Tibetan opera troupes annually gather in the Norbulingka and perform various Tibetan operas. Along with the Tibetan operas and other religious activities, visitors can also watch yak races, horse races and dance.

    Shoton Festival  Shoton in Tibet    Unfurled Thangka and the yogurt festival at Shoton. 

    Summer Holidays: 

    In addition to the holiday for the Dragonboat Festival...

    The Double Seventh Festival (Qixi Festival):

    This is one of Chinese traditional festivals, and also known as a Chinese Valentine's Day. There is no public holiday, but a traditional celebration. It's based on a romantic legend about a weaver girl and an ox herd. It falls on the 7th day of the 7th Chinese lunar month. In 2020 that's August 25 (Tuesday). Wait - a weaver girl and an ox herder? TANABATA!!!  WOW, something else the Japanese borrowed from China, although they made it their own as we discussed in my last notes.  In China it focuses on giving gifts (flowers, chocolates, ties...) to romantic partners, romantic dates — dinners, movies, etc.  It is the most romantic Chinese festival.  However, in the countryside there are other activities to celebrate including such things as offerings to the weaver fairy, Vega, displays of skill such as who can thead a needle the fastest, children picking wild flower to place in the horns of the oxen in town, and eating "Skill Fruit" - fried, thin pastries of different shapes.



    According to Summer School Korea, the Korean summer starts in June and lasts until early September. It's usually hot and very humid. Half of the annual rainfall occurs during the wet/monsoon season from late June to early July. Small wonder.  Korea is a neighbor to Japan so we would expect little else. I would explore this website.  While I referened it for the weather, there is all kinds of info about Korea - do some exploring : ).  Despite the name of the website, I didn't learn much else so checked Edarabia to learn about school holidays. 

    South Korea is known for having a rigorous eduation system whose students are globally competitive. The school year is divided into two semesters.  The academic year in South Korea, as in Japan, starts in March and the first semester ends in the middle of July.  The year picks back up the end of August and ends in mid-February.  I gather that Korea has a few weeks between school years if it ends mid-February.  My friends in Japan have had graduation on March 17, and they had only two weeks between the end of one year and the start of another.  Korea sounds like they get a month.  Much better!

    I went to 10Mag to see what things there are to do in the summer.  This of course focuses on South Korea.  There is a lot going on from a big music festival in the Seoul Jamsil Olympic Stadium to the Boseong Green Tea Festival at the Boseong Tea Plantation.  Like anywhere, hiking a trail or mountain is a great past time such as visiting the Hallason National Park on Jeju Island just south of the Korean Peninsula.  Zip lining on Nami Island is popular.  I must confes, I had a chance to zip line in Stowe VT, but it was a good mile down and I wussed out - not like me at all. Also popluar, like here, it going to amusement parks such as Everland, South Korea's largest amusement park.  Everland has 5 different themed areas: Global Fair, American Adventure, Magic Land, European Adventure, and Zootopia.  Like our own Disney, Everland has many restuarants featuring food from around the world.  It has a big Rose Festival in May through June and a Sumer Splash Festival June through August.  

    Nami Island Zipline  Nami Island Zipline

    Everland   Everland Amusement Park

    Like anywhere, there are people that like to visit famous places.  The Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul is one. 10Mag reports: "Built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace is located in the northern part of Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul and is one of Korea’s most iconic tourist spots. Here, you can visit what originally served as the home of Korean kings and their families. For a real treat, try to catch the changing of the Royal Guards in front of the main gates, which takes place three times a day every day except Tuesday when the palace is closed. Entrance is free to those who wear hanboks (한복), traditional Korean attire."

    Gyeongbokgung Palace  Gyeongbokgung Palace

    Summer Festivals:

    Boseong Green Tea Festival mentioned above. The Boseong Tea Plantation is the ounly tourist tea plantation in Korea. This actually takes place in early May when the leaves are greenest.  There is a variety of tea events such as a ritual to the Tea God to pray for good harvests, tea leaf-picking, making tea, and tea ceremonies. Here, you can also enjoy tea-inspired dishes such as green tea ice cream and green tea infused bibimbap (비빔밥). Bibimbap simply translates to “mixed rice with meat and assorted vegetables“.  I hope next year we can reschedule our Korean Dinner; this was one of the dishes I believe they were making for us. Note in the picture below how tea grows as low bushes.

    Boseong Tea Plantation  Boseong Tea Plantation

    Buyeo Seodung Lotus Festival:

    This takes place every year in July for a week. The festival celebrates the beautiful lotus flowers that have blossomed for the summer and highlights the importance of preserving these flowers and appreciating natural beauty. The week-long festival’s main events will include an opening performance, celebratory performance, the birth of King Mu, and Seodong Seonhwa (서동 선화) Impact Show. Other hands-on programs like lotus flower origami classes, lotus flower soap making lessons, and lotus leaf-shaped candle-making sessions will also be available. If you have never seen a lotus plant in person, it is really pretty.  I have seen them up along the Champlain Canal, at the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic CT, and at the Korakuen Garden in Okayama City in Japan. They are really pretty, floating along the surface of the water, each flower opening for one day.

    Buyeo Seodong Lotus Festival  Buyeo Seodong Lotus Festival

    Boryeong Mud Festival at Daechoen Beach:

    The festival holds many activities like mud wrestling, mud sliding, a marine mud training course, and swimming in a big mud bath. The events are also perfect for kids, as there is a Mud Kid’s Land for children to have fun in the mud. Those looking to relax while at the festival can spend their time at the mud massage zone and end their night with music and fireworks at the beach. It attracts not only the locals, but international visitors.  They do have a lot of K-Pop stars come to preform, but I am not into the mud myself LOL.

    Boryeong Mud Festival  Boryeong Mud Festival

    You can also check out the Busan Sea Festival and the Jangheung Water Festival. I will let you read about them on 10Mag and follow links 10Mag has to more info on them.  I am a bit more interested in water festivals than mud festivals LOL!  However, in searching Korean Summer Festivals, on Trazy, a blog where I did another look for summer festivals, I also found

    The Sinchon Water Gun Festival.  Oh yeah, forget paintball! Te Water Gun Festival in July takes place on the streets of Sinchon, where a huge crowd of people will be squirting each other with water guns. 

    Sinchon Water Gun Festival   Sinchon Water Gun Festival

    Summer Holidays:

    There are two official holidays, Memorial Day June 6 and Liberation Day August 15.  According to Imagine Your Korea (english.visitkorea.or.kr), Memorial Day, like its American counterpart, serves to honor the soldiers and civilians who have given their lives for their country. While memorial services are held nationwide, the largest ceremony takes place at the National Cemetery in Seoul.  Liberation Day commemorates Japan's acceptance of the Allies' terms of surrender in 1945 and the following liberation of Korea from the Empire of Japan.

    So, we have looked at the school year and summer in our three countries.  There are some things that sound like a lot of fun!  I will try to post one more time at least before we head off for our summer!