Saturday, September 29, 2007

Baengnyeong Do (Pangyeong Island)

So I've already mentioned what I did on my Chuseok vacation; however I've failed to go into specifics! My friend Scott from Acadia and I decided to venture into unchartered waters- namely, Baengnyeong Do (in English it's pronounced Pangyeong Island). A mere 12 kilometres away from North Korea, it is a heavily guarded and terribly beautiful island with unbelievable scenery and beaches. Although it seemed as though many of the locals had never seen a foreigner in their life (many Koreans come here on vacation, but seldom do any non-Koreans even know about this island), they were all so kind to us- which was especially nice since we were basically flying by the seat of our pants for the whoooole trip (we made some sketchy plans, and only by our extreme good luck did they work out perfectly!). Baengnyeong Do is a 4.5 hour ferry ride from Incheon City, just west of Seoul and an easy trip on the subway. I would highly suggest going not because the people on this island cater to tourists (they're very kind, but there are very few amenities!), but because it was so isolated that it felt as though we had reached one of the last untouched places on earth. It was really nice. Enjoy the numerous pics!

We had to take really disgusting seasickness medicine before getting on the ferry. It was so bad; it tasted like burnt orange peel and vomit mixed together. But we didn't get seasick! Although I maintain that we, being Maritimers, wouldn't have gotten seasick anyway...

The ferry was quite full, and outside on deck was very refereshing. This little girl was very cute.

Fishing boats at dock; just as you would see in Cape Breton. This trip was totally nostalgic.

This young man is called Edward. He introduced himself to us at the ferry terminal, saying his aunt owned the travel agency we booked through. At 12 years old, he was the only one in his family (except for an extremely shy cousin) who spoke English; and was therefore delegated the task of filling us in on every little detail he thought we should know about the island. He also asked us if "Blacks" lived in Canada ("black bears, you mean?", "no, no black people") and maintained that the Japanese were an ugly race and should apologize to Koreans for "giving their women sexual harrassment" while they occupied the country. I at least agree with the last part.

This is kimchi jiggae; a delicious, hot, spicy soup which, when mixed with rice, becomes a harmonious party in one's mouth. Full of Korean leek, tofu, meat, and of course kimchi, it has a very interesting and complex flavour that I think one can only truly understand after living in Korea for a few months. This is the ultimate Korean comfort food; forget Kraft Dinner!

This was our hotel: no hot water, we slept on mats on the floor, and our neighbours were very noisy (our neighbours being rowdy Chuseok celebrators and lots of roosters). But at least there was air conditioning and cable!

This is the view from the gas station we stood at for about half an hour, wondering how on earth we would get around the island (we didn't know it was as little as it was). Finally, we managed to make the gas station lady understand that we wanted a taxi and she called one for us! Well, as close to a taxi as one could find in this place.

We cabbed to the tiny fishing village of Dilmujin. That landmass in the background is North Korea. You could almost swim across!

These spikes in the water were meant to keep out the North Korean boats; now they're just a hassle for fishermen to maneuver.

At the lookoff in Dilmujin. Peace North Korea, peace.

The rocks here were craaaaaazy

Dilmujin from afar... it's so little.

These stairs were very scary, but the view at the bottom was definitely worth the anxiety!

At the bottom of the stairs: rocks, caves, and...

More rocks....

Scott. On the rocks.

More rocks and water.

My tootsies, and finally...

The Korean Army? They were honestly soooo excited to see white people!

Kim drying in the sun on the beach at Dilmujin

Pretty coloured rocks in the water...

Within the village...

Waiting for our super-nice taxi guy

And along comes this poor dog. Seriously, this village had NOTHING but they still manage to find ways to doll up their puppies. This might as well be downtown Suwon.

Our cab driver called this woman and told her to be nice to us until he came to pick us up, so she beckoned us to follow her into her little restaurant and we watched her cook interesting things for awhile. She really kills the fresh fish with vigour! Here she is in action:

Lookouts allllll over the island

From Dilmujin we went to Bean Rock Beach

There were some people there, but everyone was fully clothed. I guess bathing suits are pretty taboo in Korea.

This sweet Adjima served Scott and I beer and carrot sticks with spicy dipping sauce. Maekju juseo?

I found a starfish!

Bean rocks between ma toessss

Looking for seashells

I found a Mermaid Pouch!

And a sad, empty Soju bottle.

Survivor Korea. My money's on Scott winning, he has a big stick.

Fishing on submerged rocks. Clint says he looks like he's hailing a cab. I have to agree.

This caterpillar looks like a piece of feces! Now that is goooood camoflage.

All those pretty rice fields.

Our taxi driver made us get our picture taken here, but really, this sign could be saying anything. Any insights anyone?

Pretty seashells.

This is Sagot Beach: it is the only beach, other than I believe ONE in Naples, that can act as a natural landing strip for airplanes. The sand is packed super tight!

Tour buses like to drive on the beach

Such beautiful weather!

We didn't go to the cooffee shop.

My huuuuuuuuuge pork cutlet that I randomly had for lunch. I lucked out; it was delicious considering me and Scott had nooo idea what we were ordering.

Scott's caveman pose with his huge chunk of meat in hand.

The totally deserted street

Sagot Beach at sunset

We found many interesting sea creatures washed ashore!

And soooo many clams! I spent part of the next morning digging for clams with a small Korean family... one even snapped on my finger! What an experience.

Oh right! I'm in Korea!

Seashell hunting

So pretty

Crazy big jellyfish

We honestly couldn't figure out what this was... any ideas?

The firmly packed sand, apparently perfect for landing planes, also makes a impressive beer can holder!

Scott's first dip in the Yellow Sea. Mine would never come- although the water was beautiful! I just didn't want all those Koreans staring at me in my bikini, thinking I'm a hussie.

Although I did sit in the sun for an extended period of time- final tanning session of the summer!

I honestly won't get used to seeing cars and trucks on the same beach I'm sunning on...

Panorama of the lovely beach- see all the tire tracks?

And finally, Edward's Dad insisted we get a few pictures with our new friend! Seriously, this family was so good to us. We exchanged phone numbers and if I ever go to Baengnyeong Do again I will definitely go through the same company. What a sweet trip!