Monday, May 3, 2010

A Trip To The Beach

Last night I awoke to a very troubling situation.  I think it was about 3:30 and I woke to this throbbing pain, but I was completely groggy and couldn't tell if someone stole my kidney or if I got punched in the stomach 7 times.  When I finally came around I instantly knew there was a lot on the line.  You see I have a streak going, a no throwing up streak.  It's been a really long time, 7 years approximately since the last time I experienced that sensation.  And I am convinced I never want to experience it again.  I laid in bed there for a moment, until the second wave came and this was not just pain.  It was like in Alien, only the Alien never popped out of my belly.  I can say that was the worst stomach bug I have ever endured, and I owe my blessed chicken tacos that honor.  Well you can take that off the menu for a while.  But as I sat there in a feverish sweat I quickly contemplated my plans for today, but thought I was in no mood for decisions, and I battled to catch some sleep.

When I woke up I felt a little better, but my stomach was still very very sore and on the verge of a cataclysmic eruption.  I was faced with a really tough choice.  The weather was suppose to be 75 degrees with blue skies, and I didn't want to miss this chance to go to the beach, but my stomach was threatening to ruin my fun.  I finally made a choice and took some Imodium just in case things got out of hand.  

I recently located a beach on the east coast, in Gangneung, that was accessible by train.  And whenever I get a really nice day I can think of no better place to spend it than on the beach.  That said, the train ride was 4 hours there and 4 hours back, and I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to get from the train station to the beach.  You might suggest taking a taxi, but the language barrier and being in a town I don't know at all made me leery.  Also, I kinda like to find it on my own, so I decided to just wing it.

The train was really pretty it ran through the mountains and than up the coast, so there was some beautiful scenery to be seen.  Unfortunately I didn't really think about taking any pictures until the later portion of the trip, because I figured they would be horrific in the train, but they turned out okay.

After I arrived at the station I was faced with a bit of a dilemma.  For some reason the train station can never get my debit card to work, and so I used all my cash buying my ticket.  Therefore, even if I wanted to take a taxi it wasn't an option until I found an ATM.  Which was fairly easy, but thats how it all started.  I would say I found an ATM 1/2 km into my hike to the beach, but than I was like, "maybe I should just walk," and so I did.  However, that short stroll to the beach turned into a different animal.  I just followed the signs on the road, but it turned out to be a lot longer than I thought it might take.  I saw this interesting solar powered fountain on the way, and I snapped a photo of the beach from a ways away, please don't be disheartened.

When I reached that line of pine trees I knew I had to be close to the ocean, and it turned out to be very close.  I followed this really neat path until I came to the edge of what I was hoping for.  It was beautiful I had never really seen pine trees integrated with a beach before, but it smelled amazing, and it worked very nicely.  The only thing that was separating me was a barbed wire fence, thank you North Korea.

But I knew I was close now, and the beach had to start where this cursed barbed wire fence ended.  Right when my Nanney sweat started to finally kick in, I spotted the end of the trail and than...

Finally, this was what I came 4 hours for, it was gorgeous and the sea was so calm it was very serene. The 4km (bout 2 1/2 miles) walk was worth it. The water was beautiful, it was so clear and quite.  And the salt water's smell was very refreshing.  I immediately tossed of my shoes and walked rather quickly (trying my best not to run, to save face) toward the water.  I stuck my toes in and realized rather quickly that there would be no swimming today.  While it was warm there was a strong wind blowing and it would have been death to swim in that water.  I would say it was just as cold as it was during our trip at Christmas.  Here's some of what I saw.

I had to finally return some love to my sweetie!

Than I realized how hungry and thirsty I was, because I had only eaten a few of these Korean cookies, that taste like the Koala Bears with chocolate in them.  I was trying my best to play it safe, because my stomach was restless and still rumbling.  So I went exploring and nearly lost my 7 year streak when I was reminded of my Christmas dinner.  Here are the death tanks, where you pick the innocent fish you wish to eat, and you eat it 5 minutes later, not cooked and with a texture you can barely swallow let alone stomach.   Amy you might want to turn away sweetie, this may bring back some bad memories of the fish flu.

After that traumatic experience, I saw this coffee house on the beach and decided it might be time for a smoothie, because there were no slurpees available, to my great displeasure.  So I walked into the coffee house and couldn't read the menu, but saw fruit.  So, like any good foreigner I pointed and said fruit, and received that what the heck are you talking about look.  However, I must have done something right because she responded with Kiwi, and I was shocked that it work and gladly accepted.


Next, I made my way to the main beach to see what it looked like, and I was greeted by a man on a horse.  But the beauty of it was that he was coming towards me like he was some serious hot stuff.  I guess thats a way to pick up the Korean ladies. If you got it you might as well flaunt it.  

The other beach had this really nice boardwalk, something I haven't really seen, but very classy.  Here are the other pictures I took of it.

Than I decided it was time to grab a Coke and head back to the less populated beach to do some thinking and praying and just turning my brain off.  I often have a hard time slowing down enough.  I just rush, rush, rush and sometimes its good to just sit and be still.  So thats exactly what I did.  In case you wondered what thats like I grabbed a picture and a video.

Oh and heres the barbed wire fence from up front and the sand on the beach.  Which was much more coarse than most beaches I have been to.

That's when something kinda quirky happened.  I was just sitting in the sand shooing sand flies away and sipping some Coke when a older Korean man and his wife approached me.  This is not too unusual sometimes they like to practice there English, and the longer Amys gone the more I find myself enjoying it (It's nice to talk to other human beings).  

So, we got talking and he introduced himself as James and his wife's name was Susan.  They spoke very good English and told me they lived in Vancouver, Canada for 11 years.  We talked about business, economics, health care, and other various things.  It was so nice though, because I hadn't had a face to face conversation like that in quite some time.  They were both very sweet and were shocked that I walked all the way from the train terminal and offered me a ride back.  So I walked back with them to there car and we drove over to the train station.  But unfortunately my train wasn't leaving at 7:00, but rather 10:10.  I was like oh my goodness what am I going to do.  But they were so kind and invited me back to there apartment and said we could grab some dinner.

Now to say I was nervous was an understatement.  I mean my stomach was on the verge of WW3 and I didn't need hot spicy food to make me miserable the whole way home.  But they insisted that these Potato Pancakes, that Gangneung was famous for, were safe.  So we went back to there apartment, which was beautiful because it overlooked the beach and a river that ran into it, and they got ready and we shared a cup of Starbucks.  Refreshing not to have to drink that over-processed chemically mutated Maxim coffee.  It is dirt cheap, but you just wonder what is in it.  

Finally, we headed to this Potato Pancake place and it was out in the country a little bit.  When we pulled up it reminded me of something the Food Network would find.  The pancakes were delicious and crispy, and just what my stomach needed.  We finished it off with some noodles and by the time I was done, I had eaten more than I had in weeks.

Than we had some time to kill so they took me sightseeing.  First, we went over this pedestrian bridge that crossed over where the ocean meets a river.  It was all lighted up and just beautiful.  Heres the best picture I got of the bridge, my camera is awful at night.

We than strolled along a nearby pier and the stars were shining so bright it was gorgeous.  And than finally drove over to this huge lake with a Pagoda in the middle, where people used to drink and write poetry.  But it was the company that was the real treat.  They were both so sweet and I had such a great time just talking with them and laughing.  Just before they dropped me off Susan said I was like her son.  I thought that was so sweet.  It's funny because earlier when I was exploring I was like, "I don't have a clue what I'm doing."  But than later on I met some kind and gracious friends and they showed me around.  

Today was so what my heart needed, as Amy's absence has begun to wear on me a bit.  Just thinking about today makes me so happy.  I'm so grateful for kind people, and a Father who engineers these things to pull me through.

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