“I’m pining for the moon. And what if there were two, side by side in orbit around the fairest sun? That bright, tight forever drum could not describe nightswimming.” -R.E.M., “Nightswimming”
Moving to a foreign country allows you the opportunity to reinvent yourself like no other situation. When I moved to Korea, I made the decision to do just that. It’s not that I thought there was anything wrong with who I was before, but it’s easy to get too complacent. It’s nice to be able to go somewhere where no one knows your name or past and discover a lovelier you, just like the Pernice Brothers song. This past weekend gave me a chance to do just that.
Last week was one of the more difficult weeks I’ve had in Korea for various reasons that are not worth getting into here. In Korea, there are numerous companies that do trips for foreigners to different places around the country. I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it because of the long, early morning bus rides and sharing a room with a bunch of strangers. (I don’t even like sharing a room with people I do know!) Surely, that wouldn’t be my cup of tea. Even so, my friend and I made plans to go on a trip to Geoje Island for Buddha’s Birthday, and I was a little nervous about the whole ordeal. At one point, I almost cancelled for a few reasons. After the week I’d had, though, I realized that a long weekend away was exactly what I needed.
When we first got to the island, I was a little surprised. I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting, but I wasn’t totally impressed. The beach looked very small, and it seemed to be an older part of town with very little around. Shortly after arriving, we went on a tour to another part of the island. It was beautiful. Even though I was running on just a few hours of sleep, I got a second wind, and we went to explore. I don’t know what got into me, but I was climbing all over the rocks. It made me wonder why we weren’t staying closer to this part of the town, but I guess it’s because it’d be more expensive to stay there.
After exploring for a bit, we went back with the group to check into our accommodations. They initially placed us four of us in a tiny room with one bed, so two of us would have had to sleep on the floor, and we’d be stepping all over each other. I hated to complain, but it wouldn’t work for us. They moved us to another room with all ondol, and it wasn’t as nice as the other room but worked for us because it had more room. I think we won the roommate lottery, though. Our roommates were a couple from Daegu, and they were awesome.
After getting settled, we basically spent the rest of the day just hanging out and doing some much needed drinking. We went to the braai that was offered as part of the trip with Waegook Travel and met some really cool people. We also got free cocktails, which were jungle juice. Before I knew it, I was feeling pretty social and happy. I don’t remember how it came up, but I think someone talked about going skinny dipping. (I do remember that the Waegook guys said that they would do the next trip to the mud festival for free for anyone who went skinny dipping.) Nightswimming has been on my bucket list pretty much ever since the song. It took a while, but I eventually decided that this was the perfect time and place to do it. A new friend and I left the big group and went to the other side of the beach to go nightswimming. The water was freezing, but as we learned in March when I went to Holi Hai (See “Synesthesia” post), that doesn’t bother me. No one seemed to believe that we did it, but it didn’t matter because we knew we did. It was liberating, and I’m so glad I can check it off my bucket list. New Lindsey!
On Sunday, I got to check another item off my bucket list: kayaking. I’m not exactly the most athletic person, but I always thought it would be fun. We ventured out to the island until my friend started feeling sick. There was a cave, but I didn’t see if we could go into it. Maybe next time if I ever go back.
Somehow, I managed to get out of bed the next day to go to Oedo Island. I’d heard that it was beautiful, but my expectations were admittedly low at this point. The ferry first stopped to see Haegeumgang. I don’t know much about it, but it’s apparently kind of a big deal. There was also a cave, but we didn’t go in it for some reason.
The ferry eventually made it to Oedo Island, and I immediately felt like I was transported to a different place. Even though it is owned by Koreans, there’s a heavy European influence. The ferry took us to Oedo Botanica. Having been to Chicago Botanic Gardens this time of year and being disappointed, I have to say that these gardens did not let me down. They were beautiful, though Disney-esque. We walked all around the gardens and took a ton of pictures. I’d say it was worth the money and getting up early to see it.
Overall, it was a great trip, and I’m glad I went. I met so many awesome people. I challenged myself and did some things I’ve always wanted to do. I probably wouldn’t want to do a trip like this every month (It’s exhausting!), but I would definitely do it again and am already trying to decide what I want to do for the next one. It’ll likely be Namhae Island in June, but there are so many places to go and so many cool people to meet! I might have to stay another year just to be able to go all these places. For now, I think I’ll heed Dr. Seuss’s advice: “Out there things can happen, and frequently do, To people as brainy and footsy as you. And when things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew. Just go right along, you’ll start happening too!”