19 July 2008


Woke this morning to a beautiful sunny day so I got myself together and headed out to the beach. I wanted to go see a couple that are kind off the beaten path: Dadaepo and Songdo. I packed up a towel and some water and my rain slicker (40% chance of rain never developed) and a book. I never leave home without my Busan city map, my subway map, my Lonely Planet guidebook, and my Korean phrasebook. I also stopped at the pharmacy and by pulling up my shirt to show them the scarring from my last trip to the beach made them to understand that I needed sunscreen. They only had SPF 15 which is about 33% of what I considered optimal but I was not to be deterred and got it. Hopped bus 57 intending to go to Yeonsandong station but it turned the wrong way and went the other direction. (I had only ridden it going the opposite way on its return route which takes me to school.) Oh well, I just kind of went with it and ended up finding a department store that I had been to once on my scooter and needed to know how to get there on the bus so now I know so that was good. I got off at a station on line 3 and hopped the train back to Yeonsandong and transferred and was on my way. I rode line 1 all the way to the very end and then hopped a cab down to the beach.

is out on a point down where the Nakdong river flows into the Sea. The delta of the river is designated a migratory bird reserve and I saw a lot of things off in the distance that I couldn't ID but I think I saw an Albatross flying near the road. Either that or the biggest seagull ever. I need an Asian bird book bad. I had heard that the Dadaepo area was very pretty and it was. It was surrounded on two sides by jagged back rock cliffs and the mountains of Molundae point. I would have liked to hiked over there but it was too hot. The beach itself left something to be desired, however. It is in an inter-tidal zone and the water flowing out of the river has piled up sediment way out from the beach. Huge waves were breaking out there, but inside of those shoals it was kind of calm and muddy. The beach itself was more mud than sand and there wasn't anyplace that was dry. Basically it sucked. I hadn't eaten and it was after noon by this point so I walked back across the mudflat to the parking lot where the Dadaepo Raw Fish Village was set up. And it stunk. I'm no expert but if you're going to have a Raw Fish Village the one thing that you cannot have is the stench of rotting raw fish. That completely puts people off of fish in general. I have never seen such a sorry assemblage of eateries in my life. Maybe they look better at night. I don't know. I got a "hot dog," which in Korea means "corn dog" and it was good. Held me till lunch.

I next rode bus 96 down to Songdo beach. (I bet you are wondering why all the bus info: I am trying to remember where all these dang things go. There are hundreds of routes and not a single blessed map of them exists that I know of. There is a list of routes with some of their destinations online, in Korean.) Anyway, Songdo was much better. I rented a beach umbrella and a deck chair and made myself comfortable. Songdo is kind of a touristy area, but the beach was 90% kids. The wave action is pretty big at Haeundae beach, and I have already talked about Dadaepo, but Songdo is kind of interesting in that it didn't really seem to have a pattern. This was compounded by the fact that the beach was extremely steep and the water dropped off to depth just a few feet from shore. Once about every ten or fifteen minutes a huge wave would come in and knock everyone down and suck them in and then it would be calm for a while. It was easy to tell when this was happening without even looking because the screams of small children would ring through the air. I saw little boys who could not keep their pants up because all of their pockets were full of sand. Little kids would be sitting there minding their own business building a sandcastle and here would come a wave and bam!: kids, sandcastle, shovels, buckets, all of it, would be gone out to sea. Here they would come, crawling back up the beach, only to get blasted again by the next one (the big ones came in sets of two or three). It made for some pretty good comedy but once, during a dip, I was out by the barrier and a little kid about seven lost hold of his tube and went down. I grabbed him and got his tube back under him but he was pretty freaked out and crying and he had swallowed a good bit of water. His dad showed up and dragged him back up to shallow water while beating the water out of him with the other hand. Priceless.

I might note that Koreans are not ones for swimsuits. Little kids swam in underwear or PJ's. Teenagers swam in whatever they were wearing. All kids wear uniforms to school here. The girls wear a blue or grey skirt and a fitted white shirt. They were swimming in that. Adults swam fully clothed. I saw two two-piece bathing suits, not counting Russians. Russian males, regardless of body type, wear speedos. It's enough to gag a maggot. Russian women wear bikinis.

I spent most of my time under my umbrella, darting to the water when I got dry and running back into my shade. I have just a touch of pink on my shoulders. I was starting to get hungry but I didn't want to give up my umbrella to go get something (I had a good spot in the second row which I later upgraded to first row but got yelled at by the Umbrella Nazi for moving and screwing up his list which I can understand why he was mad because he was having a hell of a time with squatters and a group of Russians got mad when he told them to move and ripped the umbrella out of the sand and threw it at him and I would have felt sorry for him but I was kind of mad at him anyway because he had tried to screw me and charge me 10000 won for my chair and it is only 5000 usually and he was just doing it because I was a foreigner and he thought I wouldn't know any better and I just gave him the "I don't understand what you are saying" look until he finally gave up and went away). But anyway about that time here comes, you guessed it, the fried chicken guy. I love that: just in time. It is so good too. Spicy and greasy and crunchy, and they come with a little bag of pickled radishes and some seasoned sea salt. I ate the whole box. It was heavy on wings, just the way I like. So now full and warm I put my slicker under my head for a pillow (I knew it would come in handy) and I was out. There was a pretty stiff breeze coming in off the ocean and I was quite comfy. I slept off and on until the sun got down a bit and I headed home. Caught another bus (26) to downtown, got the subway, and on home. All in all it was a wonderful day. There are pictures!