My last two weekends in Korea have seen me at possibly one of my favourite spots of all time – the beach. Although I am not much of a swimmer, nor have I found the courage (or will) to surf, the beach itself welcomes me as an old friend each time I visit. I find the rhythmic flow of the waves cleansing, each one draws a part of me out, a part that is not needed, perhaps something negative or something I need to let go of, and simply takes it with her, dispersing it into her giant body. Somehow the ocean is that powerful – my troubles are but a single drop. Needless to say, I am left feeling revitalised and humbled.
Unfortunately travelling to beaches in Korea requires some planning and distance. My fortunate life has always been spent living by the Sea. I grew up in Durban, with an expansive coastline, I then lived in Knysna surrounded by lagoons and lakes; and a mere twenty minute drive to the beach. Finally, I spent the last 6 years in Cape Town, again enclosed by one of the most beautiful coast lines I can imagine. So in this case, travelling for 4 hours seemed almost ridiculous, but completely necessary.
My first weekend trip was to Muui-do. An island a 10 minute bus drive from Inchoen International Airport and a further 10 minute ferry ride from the pier. The event was Korea’s version of Burning Man – a gathering of like minded creatives who spend the festival in the spirit of giving – no money is exchanged but instead talents or services are traded. We only had one night to celebrate this mini Burning Man, with the main festival happening in the desert in the US over a period of a week (I believe). Strangely, I found myself seeking solitude on this particular weekend, and instead of involving myself in the boisterous activities on the main beach, I enjoyed listening to a friend play guitar, sat transfixed with the moon and sea in front of me, gazing over in reverie. And later engaging in an inspiring conversation with a close friend. The highlight of the weekend simply being at the beach.
My next island trip was for Chusoek the following weekend. Being Korea’s Thanksgiving vacation, I had a welcomed 4 days off. I ventured off with 2 friends to Jawol-do, another island off of Inchoen, although this island was an hour ferry ride. Jawol-do is an exquisite location – the locals were incredibly hospitable sharing kimchi and salad with us on the nights we used their grill to braai; the beaches were quiet save a few visitors – some curious who came to join us on an occasion or two, others who kept to themselves. The island has abundance of hills to explore – lush green forests overgrown from the summer rains, alive with spiders and insects and life.
We spent many hours on the beach, playing music, building sand castles and later, exploring the quiet hills around us offering a quiet serenity that was much needed, however, the highlight of this weekend – finding a pagoda at the top of one of the island’s peaks, and sitting for for 2 hours in the quiet, absorbing the scenery, letting time slip gently by. And of course spending days with friends, connecting, sharing, being silly, getting serious – something so necessary and needed, especially in Korea.