Monday, November 01, 2010

Mui-do Part Deux

The next day I arose with the mogi, while Yvonne slumbered blissfully on til about 10. Then it was a walk back to the train station to get instructions on how to reach Wolmido. Wolmido had once been an island, which our travel book charmingly informed us had been “bombed to a flat pulp” just prior to the Incheon invasion in 1950-whatever. When we got to the train-station I noticed the signs that told us which way Wolmido was, and waited while Yvonne went into the knformation kiosk to get a map to replace the one she had lost the previous day.

Then it was about a half-hour walk to the island, which I had been to before. It has a couple of small amusement parks and a strip of restaurants, bars, and amusements, that faces the West Sea. Having arrived at this place, with a brand new map, Yvonne decided she did not want to stay, and that we must instead figure out how to get to Mui-do and Silmi-do, two islands that are connected by a spit of sand that is onoy accessible when the tide is out (thus leading Koreans to refer to it as the “Korean parting of the Red Sea,” the kind of ridiculous referential naming they do all the time). We learned that a ferry ride from Incheon to, well, Incheon, but this time the island with the airport, would take us to a bus, which would take us to a ferry, which would take us to a road we could walk to get to the beach.

All of which we did, making connections with alarming ease. As the bus took us through Incheon airport, we realized that there was a more direct way than we had taken, should we ever want to go back.

After the airport, it was 15-20 minutes to the ferry, which really only crosses about 300 meters of water, but is necessary to take the multitudes of cars that travel to Mui-do. The ferry, like most in Korea, was attended by hordes of seagulls – one of the “features” of a Korean vacation is feeding the wildlife, and at every ferry little kids clamor to buy chips and whatnot to toss to the voracious birds. Very different from the “hands off” attitude in the US, but also a bit more fun if you don’t mind encouraging the winged rats.

Once on the other side, the tide was out, but slowly coming back in. This revealed enormous muddy plateaus that were teeming with polliwog-like creatures where there were puddles, and crawling with thousands of crabs where there was mud. If you didn’t look too closely, it looked like the beginning of an acid-trip, when everything starts to move, oh so slightly (or so I’ve been told, of acid-trips!).

I hunkered down and took some shots, then we walked over a hill to the resort on the beach. It was really quite nice, and not crowded, for this is not the “resort” season. As we walking in, the nice guy selling tickets told us we would NOT be able to get onto the second island, as the tide was coming in and we would likely end up stranded. Instead, we grabbed some drinks, and sat on the beach and watched the water. It reminded me a little of some stretches of Mendocino – no rocks, and the waves here are puny, but the tree-ringed beaches.

Then it was off to walk to where the islands met and get something to eat. I found a place that had kalgaksu, which is always a safe meal, but Yvonne was interested in expanding our culinary experience. Everything was seafood (of course, it being an island) and so we ordered a kilogram of 족개 구이 (Grilled shellfish cooked on a traditional Korean barbecue grill, and we sat there eating it while the tide covered up the connection between the two islands. As Yvonne shoveled the clams into her mouth (the mussel had not impressed her) I asked if she liked it. She said, “we’ll know if I get sick,” and continued to shovel with a ferocity that would impress a backhoe operator. I thought a minute and asked back, “well, how do you know if you get sick because you eat too much too fast, or if you get sick because you don’t like the food?” She answered, “If my stomach starts too hurt immediately, I ate too fast, if it takes a couple of hours, it’s the food.” She gestured at the remaining clams, “put them on the fire.”

And she basically ate her way through them, though by the end we were too full to eat the oysters, and neither of us wanted to try the enormous snail-like thing that sate threatening us from the plate.

As this happened, we noticed a Korean couple on the other island.. a bit of a problem, since there was no longer a land-bridge between the two islands. They were forced to wade back in water that eventually became about chest-high. I snapped a few picture of them as they began this process. Fortunately, one of the two had noticed that about 50 meters from the “bridge” there was a high spit of sand and even though it was now covered, he/she knew where it was, and so did come across at the highest point.

They were good amused at their experience, and even stopped at the water’s edge to pose for photographers who had gone down to snap photos of them.

Then it was off to another section of beach to sit, read, and in my case take a short nap. An hour later, with the sun just beginning to threaten to go down, and the weather getting nippy, it was time to go back. We caught a bus back to the ferry, but still had a little bit of time, so took some stairs and an enormously steep trail to the top of a hill, where we sat as our sweat dried, and then headed back down. Then, ferry, bus to Incheon Airport, and we caught the Airport Limo to Itaewon, pausing to stop and help two kyopo whose unbelievably bad reading of Romanized Korean was flustering them and the bus driver, who couldn’t agree on if, or I should say couldn’t decide whether, the bus was right for them.

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