21 August, 2006

The never-finished blog

I have been working on the Ulleungdo post for a week now, and for some reason, I just can't get it done. I posted what I had written because I couldn't stand looking at it anymore, and maybe in another week or so I'll get to the rest of the story. I know it's a real cliff-hanger, so sorry to leave everyone in such horrible suspense.

14 August, 2006

Ulleungdo, August 1-3, Part 1

After lying on the beach for three days straight, Bryce and I thought that maybe we should do something semi-worthwhile with our vacation. We spent part of our Monday beach time flipping through guide books and arguing amicably about what to do, and in the end, we chose to visit Ulleungdo, an island a little bit south off the east coast.

Tuesday morning we took a bus forty minutes south to Donghae. We left in such a hurry that on arriving, we realized that neither of us had much money and had to make an emergency out-of-our-way trip to an ATM before finding the ferry terminal. Once there, we obtained our tickets without too much hassle, though they kept telling us adamantly that we didn't have the reservations that we actually did have. But we got tickets, so we didn't care.

The ferry was large but not overly luxurious. Bryce wanted more leg room, and I wanted my seat back to tip any other direction than rigidly upright, but the 2 1/2 hour ride passed fairly quickly, and we were soon stepping into the bright, steamy sunshine of Dodong-ri on the rock sticking out of the water that is the island of Ulleungdo.

Dodong-ri Harbor

A few relatively factual notes about Ulleungdo--It is about 12km across at its widest point with rugged, mountainous terrian. It was used mostly as a military outpost until the late 1800's. Its current population of about 10,000 people supports itself with fishing, farming, and summer tourism. Seonginbong (Seongin Peak) is the highest point of the island at 984m.

We walked up toward the town with little clue as to what we were doing. We had decided to travel to Ulleungdo, but the planning had pretty much stopped there. We spotted the tourist information booth and picked up a map of the island and a bus schedule, both in Korean (though Bryce and I both read Korean, it can be tedious slogging through maps and schedules).

After hemming and hawing about what to do, we settled on finding a bus to Jeodong-ri, thinking it would be less touristy than Dodong-ri. The bus schedule was not quite clear to us, as was the location of bus stop, so subsequent to turning in many circles and almost becoming really frustrated with each other (or was that just me?), we went back to the information booth to have another useless conversation about the bus schedule with the woman at the window. A Korean man who spoke a little English jumped in to help us out, and by the end of the conversation, we started to understand these key pieces of information: 'There are no rooms, the island is booked, you should stay here and let us help you find a room.'

Okay....Bryce and I would have been content to not sleep and simply roam the island with our backpacks, but they were very concerned about us, not to mention probably horrified that we had undertaken a trip with no reservations, so we tried to figure out what to do. And then our angel came. A man who spoke perfect English introduced himself as a sort of liason for English speaking tourists on Ulleungdo. Had I been less grumpy, I might have kissed him. He was very helpful to us and got us space on a floor in a minbak, a private home with very basic rooms. He told us we could choose between a small room or a slightly larger room for a little more money. He gave us his 'business card' and sent us off with the minbak owner, telling us to call him if we needed help at any point.

09 August, 2006

First day of summer, July 29th

July consisted of nothing but downpours, extended downpours, and interminable downpours. Our vacation drew closer and closer, and I started getting nervous as there seemed to be no end to the rain in sight, but all the Koreans I associate with insisted that rainy season was going to end on Saturday the 29th, the first day of our vacation. It rained all week, right up to Friday night, but sure enough, come Saturday, it was not raining, and not only was it not raining, but the SUN was SHINING. My skin tingled with warmth. I cast a shadow as I walked down the street. Most importantly, I didn't have to work, and the beach was only a taxi ride away.

Lee, the owner of a local hangout favored by foreigners, anticipated the coming of summer and planned a bbq out at Anmok Beach. He brought food, drinks, and music, and we kicked off the summer in style. The sun has never felt as good.

Marnie, Margie, April, Selena, and Claire
Lee works the grill
'Wanna play some ball?' (as said by an Englishman in his best American accent)
Andrew, Jim, Dave, and Jason 'play some ball'
Jim spins some tunes
April and I have a heart to heart
Melvin relates a tale of the century to Jim
What would the beach be without Bryce and his guitar?

Once again, thanks to Marnie Recker, Photographer, for alot (most) of these photos!

08 August, 2006

Gyeongpo Beach, July 23rd

With six days left in the rainy season, six days until vacation, and three days until I had to turn in evaluations, I went to the beach with hopes of finding a little sun (or at least no rain) and getting a few evaluations written. I accomplished alot of vacant staring into the sea and very little writing. 'Who invited the librarian?' Bryce asked and insisted on taking my picture to document how lame I was being.