Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sinji-do Beach

This past weekend a group of us ten large went to the southern coast of the Korean peninsula to enjoy a beach weekend at Sinji-do. The land mass breaks up into a cluster of hundreds of islands in the south so it is simple to find adventure within a couple hours' travel. From Gwangju, you can take a 2 hour bus ride to Wando [W14,000] and then get on a shuttle bus to Sinji-do (Sin-jee-do Beach-ee) for W1,100.

There is a small town that hosts beach goers mostly through the summer but its nicer to get here earlier in the season before the organized hordes of Koreans arrive and take over the coast. It was clear that this beach gets packed as there was a public restroom every 100m down the entire boardwalk. You can camp here if you like but there were so many of us that we rented out two minbaks and spread out on the floor. They only cost W30,000 per night so its the best bet if you have a large group of people without tents.

We brought with us a slew of vegetables, weiners, fruit, and homemade dips to chow on. The minbaks provide mini ranges and refrigerators so its best to bring your own food because the coast towns don't have much but ramen and snacks in their bodegas.

It was cloudy at first but the sky cleared up and we got the best of the beach weather. We met a trio of Italians - Alissio, Fabio, and ???? - that work for a boat engine manufacturer in Mokpo and miss cheese as much as we do. Also, we witnessed a series of Korean families participating in over-organized beach games. This included relay races up and down the beach amongst 50-60 year old Korean men and women dressed in hiking gear. They also played a game in a circle where you hold one leg up in the air and attempt to knock others down with your remaining balance. Quite the show.

Of course we played some of our own games too. Matt devised the literary version of the popular Korean wrestling game, his rendition included a Venn Diagram that each player was required to stay within without being forced out by your opponent. You will get the gist from the pictures.

One of our friends also broke/sprained her ankle going up the stairs and since there were no hospitals open within a 50 mile radius we succumbed to our better resources. She was up and running again with an ankle support made of fishing net and twine. Later I fashioned a crutch from a pine limb and leftover twine.

This upcoming weekend we are saying goodbye to our friends Matt and Ashley as they finish up their year in Gwangju and head to Halong Bay in Vietnam. Matt will be working as a rock climbing guide and Ashley is transforming herself into a an avid adventurer...I mean she's already got the gear for it.

The Italians, Jess Lewis, and a bunch of our other friends will be descending on Gwangju to join in on the festvities...which include a group campfire at the secret pagoda up on our ridge, an international food and talent festival at Honnam University, a Korean body-building competition, final group bike rides along the stream, and a JoEun Villa rooftop yard sale.

One month left on the contract and every weekend is booked.

Sinji-do pictures