One of my professors in a first-year university class told us that writers are lucky. Through the process of recording and thus reflecting on our experiences, he said, we get to “live twice.” Somehow September has appeared and the Coco Busan blog is still riding the Coco July Vacation wave, as I’ve got an island called Bogildo to show you, a magic beach called Yesongri, and a tea plantation I hiked up into on the final morning of my week away.
Life in Busan post-trip has been busy, with a feature story on Korea’s fashion scene written for Eloquence Magazine (more on that soon), new kids and classes at school, and a duo birthday celebration this weekend with Leah, which began with mimosas and pancakes in Bryan and Dianna’s apartment and ended with a dance floor boogie at Ghetto Bar in Kyung Sung. We’ve been meeting all kinds of cool new people and expanding the social horizons, so after these final vacay posts I’ll be back to reporting on things current and Busan-ish. (Though this month I’ll also be popping up to Seoul for a weekend to check out the galleries, which will no doubt inspire some Seoul art-scene pics and musings.)
For now, though, let me rewind to the massive boat I boarded from Jeju on a Wednesday morning to sail to an island called Wando off Korea’s southwest coast. Ah, living twice…vacation style.
For some reason I’d envisioned the 3.5-hour sailing with me lying on a bench on an upper outdoor deck, wind tossing my hair and sun warming my face. (For those of you at home, B.C. Ferries seems to have engrained in me a particular image of ocean crossings.) Turns out this old Korean cruiser didn’t have any outdoor seating. Actually, it didn’t have any seats.
So people just parked it on the carpet and settled in for a snooze.
Between snapping shots of Koreans sleeping, I dug into Norbert’s “Contexts” chapter in the Rough Guide to Korea, specifically the Japanese occupation and The Korean War (1950-1953), known to many as “The Forgotten War.” (Korea itself was somewhat of a background shadow among allied forces at the end of WW2; as Norbert reveals in his guide book, American Secretary of State Edward Stettinius had to be told in a meeting where the country actually was.)
I also wandered over to the window a couple times for a glimpse of the water, which despite scrutinizing more than one map I can’t be sure was the West Sea or the Korea Strait.
Maybe it doesn’t matter…
I managed to grab a nap, too, and before I knew it, we had docked.
While Wando is a popular spot connected to the mainland province of Jeolla, for me it was a pit stop enroute to Bogildo, a smaller island which you find via a ferry terminal on Wando’s west side. I wanted to spend two days somewhere quiet and beautiful and old-school Korean. Norbert called Bogildo “pine-clad” and a “well-kept secret,” phrases that sold me on this part of the trip a month before vacation time arrived.
Standing on the upper deck with mountains in the distance and clouds hovering over the cool grey waters, I could have been on a Gulf Island ferry back in my beloved West Coast of Canada. Which made me feel both nostalgic and right at home…
And while I may have indulged in an unexpected minute or two of West Coast teleportation, a couple visuals pulled me right back…
Which was sweet, ’cause we’d arrived at Bogildo Island, South Korea!
Up next: How this little jewel somehow conjured not only West Coast sentiment, but Greece, too, and how I imagine the foothills of the Himalayas might be, and how Korea was before the war stole so many of its old, colourful buildings and replaced them with highrise apartments and how the beach here lulled me into hours of cloud gazing and tide listening and a sudden moonrise that took me back to Egypt, to the Red Sea and the Sinai.
Bogildo, you are about to be relived…