Saturday, June 25, 2011

An AWESOME and Manly weekend!

This past weekend, Vanessa, Lisa, Dierdre and I went on a MeetUp trip to Jindo on the South Coast. We were the last 4 of 80 some people who signed up and therefore had to arrange to sleep in a tent instead of the pension rooms that William had rented for the weekend. That was fine by us seeing as how the Village has some massive tents that we were welcome to use. The only issue there was that the tent itself weighs nearly 30 lbs. and while I like to think of myself as being in good shape, lugging that sucker around is a serious challenge. So we started our journey by trekking our way into Seoul and decided to stay at a Jimjilbong in Itaewon. Being the veteran Jimjilbongers that we are, we settled in nicely and got a relatively restful sleep. We got an early start the next morning and worked our way to the rendezvous spot where we loaded up on 2 huge charter buses and started our 6 hour journey south. 6 hours on a bus is quite long but we watched movies, chatted and read our books so the time went by pretty quick.
The tale of Jindo island is about an old woman saves her village by parting the sea.  She is pictured behind our friend Dee reenacting the tigers attacking the island.
Here are our friends, happy inspite of the lack of Moses's miracle.
The whole purpose of the trip was 1. to visit a famous beach where when the tide is low enough, the Sea "parts" and a road to one of the neighboring islands can be walked across, and 2. To go "fishing" at a special bay where nets were set up to allow people to run out with nets and bags and catch them with their hands. There was a bit of confusion about when exactly the Sea would be parting and so after about an hour of chilling it was determined that the sea would not be parting till much later. So plan B was for all of us to go to the fishing site and spend some time there, then split up again and meet back at the pension later.

Obviously, I was part of the fishing crew and was very excited to experience fishing with my bare hands, something I have never successfully done before. As we walked around, we realized that the Koreans knew what they were doing here and for them, this was serious business. They were all geared up as all Koreans must be to participate in any kind of sport or outdoor activity. Most had thigh high boots on and nets in their hands and all of them had bags tied to their waste to hold the fish they caught. One of our friends whom we have been on several MeetUp trips with, John, was there as well. John and I were determined to show these Koreans how this was really done. The two of us are quite like minded. Outdoorsy, Chaco wearing, Soju drinkin hippie types. We spent a good 10 minutes going over what we thought the best strategy would be once we got out there. Turns out, we should have just followed the lead of the Koreans. When the time actually came for us to "storm the beach" we quickly realized the purpose of the boots weren't just fashion. The muddy bottom of the bay had the consistency of wet cement. Making any kind of progress out into the water was like trudging through quicksand. On a dozen occasions, my well strapped Chacos were sucked off my feet and I thought for sure that I would loose them. Luckily, the clay like mud was thick enough that the holes where my feet had been didn't close up and I could simply reach down the 2 foot hole and retrieve my shoe. I seriously spent more time fishing my shoes out of holes that I did fishing fish out of the water.

the amazing boots Kyle opted not to buy but later regretted.
the very drunk, and yet hilarious adjushe (old man) in charge of the fishing party

After a good 20 minutes of painfully tiresome trudging I had captured 5 fish, a few shrimp and 1 octopus that was given to me by a Korean. I was very proud of myself and I'm pretty sure I had the most of everyone at that point. Then, the water began recessing even more quickly and it became apparent that the veterans of this event had simply been biding their time. After 90% of the water had pulled away, thousands of fish remained trapped in the mud were they could quickly be snatched up by the Koreans who, unlike me hadn't worked themselves out 100 yards into the sticky field of knee high sludge. By the time I had made my way back to the shore, I had massed a catch of 23 fish, 5 of which were foot and a half long Mullet, the rest were 6inch to 1 foot long Perch like fish that turned out to be quite tasty. All in all, we filled 2 ice chests with nearly 300 fish, 2 octopi, and a whole lotta mud. It was a fantastic experience!
a boat, in the mud. There were lots of boats sitting on the mud.

The other group watched us get stuck in the mud a bit, then they headed back to see the Sea never parted :(

When we arrived at the pensions, the place was fantastic. The houses were lined up on a cliff side over looking a bay that stretched on forever. There was plenty of hot water and 2 bbq grills and some nice grassy lawns for us to pitch our tents on. We had a few issues with the food situation but nothing major. Later in the evening we were informed that we would have to gather our own firewood so a group of about a dozen of us went scrounging in the woods. It's quite an experience to be in what seems like an endless forest in the pitch black of night. Even when there are plenty of people around you, the sense of it being too much like the beginning of a slasher film is inescapable. In the end, we amassed enough to get a decent fire going and a good Smore party started. It was a lovely evening!

In the morning, we had a quick muffin breakfast, then I offered to give a quick tutorial on cleaning fish. I had a pretty good crowd of about 20 people, girls mostly somewhat surprisingly. After the lesson, 3 of them stuck around to help clean our catch from yesterday. It went pretty quickly with 3 of us working at it and the fish turned out to be quite good! I had always assumed that Mullet were edible but not very tasty as no one back home seems to eat them ever. Turns out, with a little lemon and season salt, it's not half bad! I imagine it would make very good fried fish and might just have to give it a try when we get back home.

The last leg of our journey was to take a trip out to a Jindo dog training facility. Jindo dogs are considered a national treasure here in Korea and with good reason in my opinion. They are beautiful and intelligent. The place we visited had a large play area in the front with 6 ADORABLE puppies that all 80 of us snuggled with and played with. Most of us don't get much puppy time here in Korea and a good puppy fix is impossible to pass up. Then, the trainer brought out one of the adult Jindos to show us some of his tricks. We were mighty impressed with how much he had learned in only 4 months of training. It was quite hot that day though so we had to cut the session short so the poor guy didn't overheat.

All in all, the trip was a blast and it was just the kind of break we had been needing. Just wish we lived a bit closer to town so we could do more of them!

the amazing jindo dog

the adorable jindo puppy cuddling in Kyle's neck

catching crabs

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