04 August 2008

Dolsando and Yeosu

The following post was began on Tuesday afternoon and never posted because of lack of internet access:

There was a technical difficulty which required me to put off my trip to Geomundo Island until tomorrow. The electricity here in Korea comes out of the plug at 22o volts. My computer and my cell phone charger both handle that fine but the charger for my camera batteries is strictly 110. I was tempted to plug it in and see what would happen, but I didn't want to burn up the batteries or the charger or the hotel so I came back to Yeosu to try and find a 220 charger.

The bus ride on the way back to town was quite eventful. I met a Canadian couple on the bus. At least I think they were. She was Canadian but he said "Gooday" like an Ausie so I am not sure but they were on vacation and we talked for a bit. She was interested in my teaching gig. The driver drove like a maniac but I thought that we were fine unless we met the outbound bus coming at us in the wrong lane. At one point we slowed down slightly at a small fishing village and an old woman flagged down the bus. The driver opened the door and started yelling at her, but, undeterred, she started heaving in these huge bags of what I think were dried clams. After the second one one of the people in the front of the bus got up and started helping. The driver, who to this point hadn't hit the brakes once on a trip that would have been best measured in altitude, kept up a tirade the entire time. Finally, after what must have been forty-five seconds of blissful stasis, we screamed onward. The bags of clams slid back and forth in the isle as we careened back to Yeosu.

When we arrived the bus went away from the area I wanted to go to (it was a different number than the one I took to Dolsando). After a while I began to recognize a few things, or think I did. About this time the old lady started to drag the bags back to the rear exit of the bus. I knew we were downtown somewhere, which should have been near the street where all the hotels were. When she rang the bell I got up to help. She was already out and had one bag down before I got around her. The driver was a bit calmer but I could hear him muttering. She let me unload the rest and then opened her little metal folding cart and I loaded two of the bags on there and she nodded at me and took off. I watched her wobble off trailing the cart, down the right lane of the busiest street in Yeosu and around the corner out of sight. Now I am standing there, in the street, with two huge bags of clams. I tried to pick them up and take off after her but with my bag and the heat it was too much. So I stood there and waited.

Back she came, about three minutes later. I helped her load the other two gave her a bow and made off. Now the question became: where am I? I wasn't sure, for sure even, which way the ocean was anymore. So I did the old standby: hail a cab. I raised my hand and before I got it up a cab was stopped for me. I hopped in and asked him to take me to "Sky Motel," the cheapest one recommended by Lonely Planet that offered computers in the rooms. Either he didn't understand me or didn't know where it was but he kind of tooled around while he did some checking on the cell phone. When he found out where it was he started laughing and pointed back to where I had got on. Sure enough. I had been standing a stones throw from it to begin with. In my defense, the sign didn't say "Sky Motel," it said "[cartoon sun] Motel." Anyway, I checked in and got to my room which is nice and it is cheap and it has a computer, but it is odd. It has a round bed. And mirrors.

I eventually found a 220 charger and I found the ferry terminal and later on I am going to check out another island that is within walking distance and is accessible via footbridge.

This is as far as I got with the original post. To pick up there then, I took off from the hotel on foot in search of small, scenic, Odongdo Island. The guide book said that the it could be walked to in 30-minutes, which would probably be true if you could find it. I followed the signs until I got lost and hailed a cab. When I got there it was starting to cloud up and the day was waning, but there were many Koreans on the road train across the causeway and more on foot. I walked across and began to walk around the Island. The pathway was steep, but pretty. It was lined with the pines common to those parts and some areas were roped off beside the path. A sign in Korean showed a picture of a small lily that must be endangered on the island because these areas were full of the small plants, although not in bloom of course. I walked up and up and had likely reached the high point of the island when I came to the sign for 'dragons cave." I could see that all of my hard won altitude was going to be spent on a trip down the the cave but I went down anyway. I am glad I did. This part of the island was facing the sea, and, even on a relatively calm day, the waves were crashing against the shore. A slit cave not more than a couple of yards wide lay at the back of a short inlet. The inlet funneled the waves into the cave with an intense crash, often meeting the water coming back out. It was quite spectacular. There was a wide ledge above the sea that went around the small point nearby and I walked around it to the other side where waves were washing up onto the rocks of a larger inlet. I made movies of both of these things which I will post.

I climbed the steps back up to the path and was going to climb further up to the lighthouse, but I heard music down toward the other end of the island and went down to see what was going on. I had read about the dancing fountain in the guidebook but I wasn't prepared for the sight. I came down a short path and first encountered the back what looked like a giant moving wall of water. The fountain is composed of thousands of individual nozzles, some static, some in motion, and all lit from below with lights constantly changing in color and intensity. This lighting and the motion of the water were choreographed to the music coming from a large surround sound system. There were platforms and benches across the way were everyone was sitting, so I repaired that way to watch the show. It was spectacular but the best part of the show were the children playing in a smaller dancing fountain build into the floor in the center of the amphitheater. It too was choreographed, each hole in the ground making its own contribution. The children stood on or near the holes waiting for the water to make its seemingly random expulsion. They were wound up to say the least, screaming with delight every time they took a jet of water in the face or the shorts. I nearly joined them, but the adults were all staying dry so I reluctantly abstained.

One of the things that surprised me was how little I had begun to care for solitary travel. There were so many things to see and do, but none of it seemed nearly as fun without someone to share it with. I was feeling pretty down on the walk back to the lot. It was clouding up and getting dark and I was hungry and tired and didn't feel like going back to the dingy hotel and sitting there my myself. I was dejected really. I went back to the cab stand and started trying to explain where I wanted to go eat, a dak galbi restaurant in the guidebook, and was getting nowhere. That is when I met the girl.