Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Korea - The first movie set

Hello everyone!

As it's summer, it is high time to start moving around the country. Especially before the monsoon season kicks in. I've been told that typhoons don't pay Korea a visit - China and Japan on either side bear the brunt of those badboys - but we still get the rain. And lots of it, so seeing the country in its natural, dry splendour is a must.

Thus twelve of us congregated at Songnae station at the rather early time of 8am to head away to an island. Unsurprisingy, I hadn't been entirely sensible the night before - the lure of ddak galbi and Jailbar is too much for me - so I wasn't my bubbly self, but we had plenty of time to change that.

We were heading west. Our destination was Silmi Island, or 실미도 to those with a Hangul tongue. Island is -do in Korean, so we all call it Silmido. We had to head towards Incheon Airport, and then keep going on a ferry to an island called Muuido, from which Silmido was a hop, skip and jump away.

On the ferry we were treated to some Chinese liquor. No idea on the name, and I don't want to know the name. Unless I can cheer when I find out that the company goes out f business from poisoning people with this foul concoction. We all forced each other to drink a shot of it, and the facial expressions tell the whole story. I don't honestly think I've had a worse drink in my life.

That rancid aftertaste was still in our mouths when we got on a bus on Muuido to take us to our beach. It did do this - eventually. I mean, the tour of the whole island was nice, but a bit unnecessary. And bumpy. But still, we had got to our destination with no major hiccups.

The weather was threatening to be a hiccup, as it was very much overcast. I don't wear suncream anyway - unless its Thailand and I've already been turned into a lobster - so the lack of a visible orb of light in the sky vindicated my decision to avoid lathering myself in the white stuff. We decided to play keep-ups with a football we had found on the beach. I get quite active in these things, and spent a lot of time perfecting my bicycle kick. The problem with doing this was that the beach wasn't overly sandy. It had quite a few tiny shells on it. I wasn't overly concerned about cutting my knee, mainly because we were finding it difficult to walk after a while.

When three Koreans came over and said that they wanted their ball back after lunch, we decided to call it a day. 14 was our shocking personal best for group-keepy-up, but it was nice to lie down on the beach for a while. I managed to turn quite red whilst doing this. I know the sun can get through the clouds and burn you, but my burn turns to a lovely brown within two days. Unless it's Thailand.

Whilst lying on the beach, we saw a gaggle of soldiers storm towards the sea en masse, complete with lifeboats. I was happy to be naive and to believe the hype, but it was pretty obvious that they were not real soldiers. Their lack of ability to navigate their boats in the not-so-clean sea was testament to that. Still, it was an extraordinary sight. We also spent time reading the blurb of a book in various accents. My ghetto accent needs some work.

As the light began to fade, we fired up our barbecue. Turns out quite a lot of us like to play chef in this situation. It's a man thing, I think. Meat and power whilst drinking a beer is a possible definition of the good life. We cooked a lot, ate a lot - I don't think I've ever eaten as much chocolate as I did that weekend - and drank rather a lot as well. Not that Chinese stuff, though. Afterwards we went back to the beach and watched some fireworks being set off. We weren't entirely happy when one flew through our spot at a very low height. Others also spent time catching small crabs, before we headed back into our places and got royally drunk. Big gap in the memory. Not helped by the fact that my camera konked out on me again. I need to look into that.

I knew we had drank a lot though, because the next morning my body was not in the mood to move. However, we were going across from Muuido to Silmido. Silmido is uninhabited, so you can't stay there, but you can visit. However, you can only visit when the tide is out, as you walk over from Muuido. Yes, you can literally island-hop if you feel like it. Silmido is famous out here. They filmed a movie there a few years ago - I was told about it by some Koreans on orientation - that is based on true events that happened there. In a nutshell, to respond to an assassination attempt, Korea's President in the 1960s set up a secret elite force - think MI5 - to assassinate the North's leader, Kim Il-Sung. They were called Unit 684. The response never happened, and eventually the soldiers got bored and did the obvious thing - they mutinied. Marched to Seoul, killing numerous people on the way. It's quite shocking that a Modern History graduate had never heard of this, I think.

Anyway, we spent Sunday exploring this movie set of an island. Interesting place, full of rocks to clamber over Rather disturbingly, we found a dog prostate on the rocks. It definitely had not died of natural causes. Made me think twice about eating the thing, for sure. What we did instead eat, and why I ate so much is confusing as I was still stuffed from Saturday, was an industrial-sized amount of bacon and eggs. This is probably about half of one of the three packs of bacon we had. Awesome.

We can't thank Juno enough for organising this trip, it was so much fun and really nice to get away from city life, even for a short time. Can't eat that much every weekend though, otherwise I'll come back spherical. But a lot of fun, and a great way to spend a weekend.

Love you all


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