No work on Friday meant the chance for one last camping trip before the weather would get too cold. I am not sure what made me want to Go to Taean originally; maybe its proximity to Seoul and that there was a national park there where I heard that you could camp on the beach.
We packed up our gear and food for the weekend and hurried off to the bus station but the next bus didnt leave for another hour and a half, which gave me time to get some lunch at a delicious udon place across the street.
Finally 1:30 rolled around and we got settled in on the bus with our snacks and drinks, even though it was going to be just a short 2 hr bus ride. Short by my standards after the 21 hr bus trip in Peru but Ji really doesnt like even the shortest trips.
If you look at a map of Korea it is more or less a grid of parallell and perpendicular highways. Traffic is expected and when the GPS on my phone indicated that we were detouring from what seemed to be the most direct route I though the driver must be trying to avoid some traffic. I think he thought he was too. Our bus inched along, teasing us with intercoastal waterways, bridges and mud flats and teh sun was noticibly lower in the sky.
At Taean’s bus terminal the air was fresh and skies clear. As clear can be expected. Hoping to find remote beach away from civilization we ate one last restaurant meal; nothing fancy; just some stirfried noodles and beef. we bought a few liters of water and hoped that we had picked the right city bus to take us off to the coast.
The bus motored around curves over gravel and dirt roads at times, offering the last of the mango sky before leaving us looking for our headlamps. The driver seemed confused as to where we might be heading. only one other passenger in the bus with us we asked her toughts before she stepped off at some country house, or I imagined there must have been one somewhere in the darkness; teh only light was coming from the bus’s headlights, which illunminated only more dessolate road ahead.
A few flickering street lights cast a bluish hue over a line of buildings that were a mix of theme park-movie-set-fake-looking and post-human-abandonment. I could see some sand and sea in the gap between two of the buildings. The bus looped around and came to a stop with a hiss. The bus driver unbuckled and stood to face us. He asked where we were going. When we explained, he told us we should have taken a different bus but that if we wanted to camp here would be as good as anywhere else. It was a “resort Town” called Shinuri. The setting of Woman on the Beach, a 2006 film by korean director, Kim Jung-rae and one of the beaches hit hard by Koreas worst oil spills back in 2007. After the cable connecting a tugboat to the barge it was pulling snapped, the barge was tossed into an oil tanker from Hong Kong that was anchored. About 75,000 barrels of oil blanketed the coast in a layer 4 inches deep. Over 1 million volunteers helped clean up the mess.
We took a walk along the shore; the best I could tell in the low light was that it was clean. There were some motels with picnic tables along the seawall where a few families were grilling out tere was an area with some huge dinosaur sculptures, a campground with amenities where people were shooting off roman candles and if you walked on even further, just before you got to the coastal dunes park there was an abandoned two or three story building. we made it’s front yard our camp site.
Without too much sand following we were in and bundled up. Colorful flaming projectiles trailed across the sky and the recent news of some people whose tent was set on fire trapping them inside bounced around Ji’s head. We both fell asleep.
At 4:30 I woke up. I am not sure whether it was because I had to pee to bad or if it was the sand that was being blasted through the mesh of the tent and hitting me in the face.
Ji was sleeping on teh leeward side of the tent so when I crawled out, the stakes holding my side down poped out and the tent began attempting liftoff. It was a sand storm as I looked for a safe place to relieve myself.
Ji was awake when I got back into the flailing tent. I broke the news to her. There was an ominous black chloud and a lightening storm stretching across almost the entire the horizon. By my best guess it was going to start dropping rain on us in about an hour or 2. While out of the tent I had scouted an area where we could take refuge under that big building we were in front of. We tried to sleep for a half hour more but neither of us could fall back asleep.
After camping on the beach in Portugal I dont know what made me think beach camping would be a good idea again. I mean it’s great but packing up is a nightmare; it’s impossible without taking home a bucket of sand by accident. It’s even harder before sunrise and in a hurry.
The storm was getting closer and the clouds looked amazing. They reminded me of the sky before a tornado. The first bus back to Taean City wasnt for another hour. The temperature had dropped considerably so we tried to take shelter from the wind as best as we could while still keeping an eye on the bus stop just incase the bus came early.
The weather and my camera kept me plenty entartained during the wait. then, just as teh first raindrops began to fall the bus rolled up. we hadn’t eaten any of the food we brought or drank any of our water. It seemed like quite a wasted trip but not more wasted than my trip to Yang-Yang where I spent 4 hours on a bus to get to the East coast of Korea to camp for the weekend alone and was rained out after waiting 3 hours and came back soaking wet.
better luck next time I guess.