Fire Dancing!


In March 2013, we enjoyed a brilliant fire dancing performance during a weekend getaway to Ko Samet, a small island off the coast of Pattaya, Thailand. Ko Samet is a three-hour drive south of Bangkok and a great overnight getaway for those visiting Bangkok or Pattaya who don’t have time in their schedule to visit more popular island destinations such as Phuket and Ko Samui.

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (2)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (1)

Fire dancing originated centuries ago in Samoa, a Polynesian island in the South Pacific. The islanders of Bali, Indonesia developed the Fire Dance independently as a mystical Hindu ritual known as the sanghyang to ward off witches during epidemics. Fire dancing is now practiced around the world primarily for entertainment purposes. The Ko Samet performance we saw at our beach resort was definitely entertaining.

It’s difficult to explain in words what photos and videos could show you, so without further ado, here are some shots of fire dancing on Ko Samet. Time elapse photography created the fire rings.

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (3)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (4)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (5)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (6)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (7)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (8)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (9)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (10)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (11)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (12)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (13)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (14)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (15)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (16)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (17)

Here are some photos of the beach on Ko Samet at night. What a wonderful getaway! If you visit Thailand, visit Ko Samet or one of the country’s many popular island destinations for a great beach vacation.

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (18)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing (19)

2013_03_02 Thailand Ko Samet Fire Dancing

Here’s a video clip of the performance.

Fire Dancing Performance, Ko Samet, March 2, 2013
Map picture

clip_image001M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

The Adventures of Fishman (with Photos)


In keeping with the superhero theme kicked off by my interview with super author Kevin Rau, I’m updating a post I published in January 2005 called The Adventures of Fishman — this time with photos. May it inspire anyone with young children to turn their toys into characters of a story that will help parents have fun too.

Whenever I play with my son, I try to have fun. We play well together; in fact, my wife tells me that he has a great time whenever he plays with dad. Sometimes my mind gets carried away, and I make up epic stories with whatever toys are available at the time.

The other night I happened to stick a toy fish on the head of my son’s Mr. Perfect doll, and presto! the superhero “Fishman” was born. Thus began The Adventures of Fishman, a crazy aquatic superhero. Eat your heart out, The Incredibles!

Fishman (1)

Fishman (2)

By day, “Fishman” is Mr. Joe Perfect, a mild-mannered consultant for Discovery Consulting. He’s Mr. Everyman, the kind of guy you can bring home to meet the parents. He’s courteous and thoughtful, everything anyone could ever want in a man. He says sweet things when you press his stomach such as, “The ballgame doesn’t really matter. As long as I’m with you, I don’t care what we watch.” Or “Here, let me make dinner tonight,” or “Let me stop and ask directions.” He wears beige khakis and a snazzy blue dress shirt, the wrinkle-free kind with the indestructible buttons. He sports a short, preppy haircut. He’s masculine but not macho. He’s single but a great catch.

By night, Joe is “Fishman,” a mighty superhero. Endowed with a ruby red iron Fishhead to mask his identity, he carries a candy trident that he uses to fight crime in Discovery Village. After eating a bad filet of soul one night at a local restaurant, Joe found himself suddenly endowed with the superhuman sense of knowing when something fishy is happening. Determined to use his power for good, he uses this ability to sniff out all things rotten and fight evil for the good of mankind and fishdom; well, at least Discovery Village.

Fishman (3)

Fishman (4)

Fishman’s greatest nemesis is the One-Eyed Monster (OEM), a villain who escaped from the sinister labs of Monsters, Inc. and terrorizes the good citizens of Discovery Village. Our superhero’s mission is to stop OEM from carrying out his sinister plans to wreak havoc on the village.

Fishman (5)

Here are some action shots of Fishman thwarting OEM’s plans to derail a commuter train. Fishman pins down OEM and saves the train before it falls off the edge of Discovery Garage.

Fishman (6)

Fishman (7)

Fishman saves the day again! Three cheers for Fishman!

Fishman (8)

buythumbM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Korean Folk Village (with Photos)


This is an update of two blog posts I published in July 2005 about our first visit to the Korean Folk Village near Seoul, South Korea. Although other folk villages in Korea also showcase traditional Korean architecture and culture, this is the one most locals think of when they hear the term “Korean Folk Village.” The village is featured on my list of Top Ten Things to Do in Korea. This post combines the original two posts into one and includes photos. The original posts are here and here.

My family ventured July 15 to the Korean Folk Village in Yongin, an exurb of Seoul. Reputed to be one of the best daytrips out of the city, it lived up to its reputation. If you visit Seoul and only have time for one daytrip, this is a great place to go.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (1)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (2)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (3)

Opened in 1974, the village is the grandest of all the folk villages dotting South Korea. Although it was built as a tourist attraction, it’s fully functional. Many of the employees dressed up as peasants and in hanbok (traditional Korean dress) also live there. It’s an intriguing sight to see next to the modern high-rise apartment buildings that loom next to the village gates.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (4)

The route to the Korean Folk Village two hours south of Seoul is not well marked, and finding northbound Interstate 1 heading north is not easy.We missed the Giheung exit off Interstate 1 on our way to the village and ended up driving past it to Osan. We backtracked on an arterial road that paralleled the freeway.

By the time we arrived, we were so hungry that we stopped to eat at “Korea Restaurant” near the village gate. We thought that a restaurant with a lofty-sounding name representing the entire country had to have delicious food, but it turned out to be a cafeteria-style, massed-produced food operation with a limited selection and mediocre cuisine. All the restaurants near the entrance looked the same. At least the friendly help took a liking to our young son! If you visit, you’re better off making your way to the far end of the village and eating at the open-air village “Bazzar.” We eventually arrived at the “Bazzar” and saw some of the delicious foods sold there. Live and learn.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (5)

After lunch we went to “Seonangdang,” a religious shrine where one can pray to and solicit favors from the village’s guardian spirits. Koreans, like many peoples around the world, at one time carved ancestral totems out of wood. The ones in the village reminded me of the totem poles made by the Native Americans and First Peoples of the Pacific Northwest, although these totems were bit more free spirited (no pun intended). Korean totems can be whimsical and a bit chaotic with laughing, asymmetrical faces. They also follow the curvature of the wood and occasionally lean.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (6)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (7)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (8)

We walked to the ceramic village, where I bought my first kimchi pot (a ceramic jar used to make kimchi, not kimchi-flavored marijuana). As the national dish of Korea, kimchi is held in high regard in Korea. No meal would be complete without a side dish of spicy and sweet cabbage, radish, or cucumber kimchi. The Italian restaurant where my wife and I occasionally dine in Seoul serves sweet pickles as a substitute (western restaurants in Korea often serve sweet pickles in lieu of banchan, or side dishes).

I’ve wanted to buy a pot for quite some time because I thought they looked decorative. Mine is not too big, perhaps one gallon (two kiloliters). It’s not large enough to make enough kimchi to feed a family. To do that, you would need to buy at least a 20-gallon drum! Although I overpaid for the jar, I was happy to buy one from the shop where it was made. Knowing its source gave it character and an identity.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (9)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (10)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (11)

We made our way through the village and visited a replica of a typical traditional Korean peasant farm.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (12)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (13)

We stopped to watch two elderly women in hanbok making silk. I had never seen how it’s made. One woman boiled silkworm cocoons, killing the larvae, separating each from its cocoon and casting it aside, and helped another woman unravel silk from the cocoon. The second woman spun the raw silk thread around a spinning wheel. Watching them produce silk was fascinating. It’s amazing that such a manual, unglamorous process ends with the creation of one of the world’s most luxurious fabrics.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (15)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (14)

In an open area in the middle of the village, we came upon some traditional Korean games, the see-saw and arrow throwing. In a simulation of the ancient Korean game, some locals tried to throw three-foot long sticks into narrow jars. (Arrow throwing is akin to the western carnival game of throwing balls through holes on a backboard.) The Korean see-saws were thick planks of wood straddling sacks of hay. My son enjoyed giving it a try. Daddy put his foot on the plank and bounced him up and down. He laughed and held on for dear life as daddy rocked him. He then took over and did it himself.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (17)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (16)

Ready for a treat, we went to the “Bazzar” and stopped for ice cream. I loved the atmosphere of the open-air market filled with traditional buildings and workers dressed in peasant clothing. At that moment, contemporary Seoul seemed far away.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (18)

We left the “Bazzar” and crossed the Arch Stone Bridge, a picturesque structure straddling a gentle river flowing through the village.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (19)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (20)

We wandered along the far bank of the river through a group of farmhouses modeled after those found on Jeju Island made of volcanic rock. For the first time, my son saw farm animals that he knew well but had never seen before—rabbits, chickens, pigs, goats, and geese. His eyes lit up when he saw the real version of animals he had read about in books and saw as toys. He especially liked the rabbits. Unfortunately, the geese were unruly. We stood about ten feet from them until four decided to come after us. We backed away quickly and moved out of their territory. I wasn’t about to get bitten by a goose and end up getting rabies shots. That would have been a lousy end to a beautiful day.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (21)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (22)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (25)

I enjoyed trying some of the rudimentary milling equipment, a gristmill and hammermill. It made me thankful that I buy my bread, rice, and pasta at a store.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (23)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (24)

After wandering through replicas of old Jeju Island farms, we ventured into an open area where a Korean acrobat on a high wire performed a delicate balancing act. He did a fabulous job defying gravity, bouncing up and down on the rope, sitting on it, straddling it, and balancing himself on top. He balanced himself grasping only a handkerchief in one hand and a large white fan in the other. He used the fan to control his balance, waving it slowly, then feverishly to bring his body back into equilibrium. Dressed in a white traditional costume, he wore a black Korean-style hat reminiscent of a Korean sage. I enjoyed his performance.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (26)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (27)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (28)

We then headed to the Manor House, where we witnessed a traditional Korean wedding. The condensed ceremony that took place in the main courtyard highlighted some of its interesting aspects. As the ceremony began, the groom took his place to the east of the wedding altar and faced west, sitting cross-legging awaiting his bride. Symbolic foods lay atop the altar, waiting to be parceled to the bride and groom. An old sage to the north of the altar faced south and read the vows from a wedding book.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (29)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (30)

A few minutes later the sage called for the bride to come. She left the Manor House and descended its steps, entering the courtyard with two female assistants. They escorted her to the altar and helped her kneel on both knees to the east so that she faced towards her future husband facing west.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (31)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (32)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (33)

As the sage chanted the wedding vows, assistants offered food and drink to the betrothed couple. They ate chestnuts, a symbol of the yangban, or Korean aristocracy, and other delicacies. The bride’s arms were crossed and positioned over her face so that the groom could not see her until the ceremony ended. Prompted by the sage, the groom and bride stood and bowed to each other. Dressed in hanbok, they made a handsome couple.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (34)

The sage pronounced the couple married, and the ceremony ended as quickly as it started. Having seen many weddings around the world, I enjoyed this unique depiction of an age-old tradition.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (35)

After the ceremony ended, we headed to a modern children’s amusement park in the southern portion of the folk village across the river. Filled with amusements, modern architecture, and contemporary sculptures, it was much different than the rest of the village. We took our son on several rides. He had been such a good sport putting up with our wandering that we knew we needed to treat him to something he would enjoy. He first rode a roving mechanical dog. He was apprehensive about getting close to real animals but had no qualms climbing aboard this slow-moving “dog.” Afterwards, mommy took him on a carrousel for his first merry-go ride, and daddy took him on his first train ride aboard the children’s train. He had a great time.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (36)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (37)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (38)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (39)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (40)

Our son had so much fun that he didn’t nap all day long. Once we finished and went home, he was out like a light. I was tired too and wanted to do the same but had to wait until home to crash. Our fun adventure at the Korean Folk Village wore all of us out.

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village (41)

2005_07_15 Korean Folk Village

Map picture

buythumbM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.