Published: September 4th 2011September 4th 2011
So the idea for Saturday was to go to Muiido island for the first ever South Korea burning man kinda thing. Burning Man is happening in now, and this is supposed to be a little taste of it for all those inclined in South Korea. Long story short, I missed it on Saturday. Why? Because it's on an island and I arrived too late to the ferry. I could kick myself for a litany of reasons why I needn't have missed the boat over and shoud've been partying through the night on the island. Instead, here's a tale of what actually happened instead.
I missed a train, completely and utterly my fault. This was my first time taking a train into Seoul from Seocheon (where I live, for all you who don't know/didn't guess). My train arrived late to the station, and I had to change trains. So, the next train was the train I was supposed to get on, only I wasn't sure it was, so I missed it. The next train into Seoul was booked, so I had to wait and hour and a half for the following, blah blah blah...Anyway, I get into Yongsan station in Seoul, only to realize I need to be at Seoul station to get out to the Incheon airport train station. From that station, I catch a bus to the area where the ferry to Muiido island is. Are you following me?
Long story not abbreviated much, I should've just known that I needed to go to Seoul station, and I would've taken a train that would get me there in time to make all my connections. The ferry stops running at 8pm, and I arrived at 8:30ish. Too late. So....
I book a hotel thanks to a policeman who gives me some help (count of police to speak some English, yes?) and set my 50lb bag down. The bag sure felt that heavy lugging it around everywhere today. Where I get 50lbs of stuff, I don't really care to consider, but goodamn I became weary of it. So I take a walk to find somewhere to eat, and that's where things get interesting.
I didn't have my camera with me, but should have. A picture is worth several paragraphs (which won't appear because I don't know how to say it). I'm walking around the little area (think New England seaside town, but in Korea, so not too much so). There's all seafood restaurants with some open air seating. I walk mostly all the way down the horshoe shaped building and this lady gestures an eating motion and asks me “chi san?” chi san?” which aside from the looks, sounds like “chi fan” which is Chinese for “eat.” So, as one to say yes to things, I go inside. She asks me if I want BBQ fish, and I say yes. Great, but it's really expensive. So I pass on the fish and order some noodles, and something like 6 side dishes come with it for roughly $20.
(As an aside, South Korea is nowhere near as cheap as China, well Yunnan province anyway. I could've bought two or three meals like that in China for what I paid.) The boss speaks a little Mandarin, so we get on okay. Turns out one of her employees also speaks mandarin, and we get chatting after she's not busying helping the other customers. Long story only slightly shortened, the boss and two of the workers (both 40+year old women, ajumma in Korean) and I eat and drink beer for the next couple of hours. They all tell me their names, and I think one of them takes a liking to me. (They're all married anyway. And the cook, she's called Captain. I proceed to tell the boss that my dad is also a captain (of boats).
And I ate the strangest thing I've eaten in my time abroad. Funny that “what's the strangest food you've eaten?” was the #1 question I got while I was back home. Now I have a good and answer for it. I forget the Korean name for these little crustaceans. The best explanation I can think of is they were like a cross between miniature horshoe crabs (without the spike) and pill bugs. About a half to three quarters of an inch long, and steamed or boiled. Now, I usually don't much care for eating things with an exoskeleton, and these were no exception. They weren't repugnant, just tolerable. And of course, I won't be so impolite as to turn down food, especially when someone is trying to feed me, as the boss was by scooping it up on a spoon to my mouth. I do try to be polite, especially when it comes to eating.
Again, I apologize for the lack of pictures. I didn't have either of my cameras on me (d'oh!). I wish I could convey how odd/funny/comforting this evening was. My trip totally didn't go as planned (partly due to poor planning), I lost my sunglasses, missed out on the best part of the party I took this trip for, and end of it all, got to speak Chinese (my Korean is hardly existent now) at dinner.
Anyway, tomorrow morning I'll take the ferry over, and might make it to the beach in time for morning yoga and to meet a bunch of burner and burner friendly folks. Hey, I told a couple of people I've never met yet that I'd be sure to be there. Can't let a thing like broken plans get in the way of a promise.
And if you read all that, kudos to you. Long entry this time.