You might imagine from 4 years of blogs about South Korea that I would be some sort of courageous person. Bold! Fearless!! Capable of facing ajummas and octopi alike!! But, you would be quite wrong. I never, ever venture alone. It’s way too intimidating.
Until yesterday, that is, when I finally decided to sneak past my twin mind guards of Fear (“What if something scary happens?” is his favorite taunt) and Guilt (“Why aren't you being productive?" is his). My semester’s grades were freshly submitted to the various electronic and secretarial overlords, our apartment was in decent order, the gardens were all tidy, and on day 1 of my vacation, I was already bored. I don’t like bored. It makes me grumpy.
I longed to go snorkeling. The season here is very limited (June-September between 8am and 4pm on sunny days when the water is calm and clear) and the conditions today were perfect. My family and friends were all (a) working, (b) traveling, or (c) not fans of the ocean. No co-adventurers there.
Crap. On days like this, I usually sigh a lot, surf the internet, take naps. I’ll find some vaguely productive task so I feel less guilty for lazing around. And I did all that and it was only 10am. So I just sat, miserable.
This. Is. Dumb.
So, deep in my mind, in a secret place the Guards don’t know about, I made a rash decision: I would go snorkeling at a safe, shallow sandy beach. I quietly changed into my swimsuit. Casually, I walked around the house, pretending to be tidying but actually collecting snacks, camera, and purse. Then, before the Guards realized what was happening, I made a run for it, grabbing the snorkeling bag on the way out to the van.
I drove through the gloriously green rice fields, like you do, even stopping to take pictures of ducks, herons and egrets. And just 5 minutes later, I had arrived at the East Sea (called the Sea of Japan by non-Koreans). I parked and stepped over the low rock wall onto the sandy beach. Still anxious about the Guards, I dropped my stuff on the beach, grabbed my fins and mask/snorkel and rushed into the flat water to put on my gear.
There was nothing left to do but snorkel.
And so I did. Schools of grass puffers (I know, I know - it's a hilarious name), a tiny flounder, some silver whitings, and other underwater friends greeted me as I happily glided over their home turf. I lost track of time and reluctantly came in only when I became cold. Resting on the beach, I watched crabs hurling sand from their burrows; smiled at surfing school students; organized all the stuff I could find in a square foot of beach.
|Four years ago, this beach was FILTHY. |
It looks amazingly clean to me now,
though I suppose other opinions may vary.
|I kept laughing and scaring these guys. :)|
|To see this kind of crab hurling arm (claw?) loads of sand,|
click here for a short video
|Surf School: Youngilman Port, Pohang, South Korea|
Much to my astonishment, a perfectly ripe roma tomato rolled ashore. This would be a rare find in a market here, let alone at the beach. It felt like an undeserved gift. It tasted of warm sun and utter contentment.
I'm still not courageous, or bold, or fearless. But on this day, I learned that the mind guards are far weaker than I'd expected. And that joy is an excellent co-adventurer.