Getting There

8 08 2008

After a 4.5 hour bus trip, I finally arrived in Busan on Friday night, only to find a 1.5 hour subway ride ahead of me. It turns out Dadaepo Beach is seriously on the outskirts. I passed the subway ride easily enough by reading the rest of the book I had brought with me. After the subway it was time for a quick taxi ride to the beach. Unfortunately my cabbie was not all that cooperative, although I can appreciate where he was coming from. We had some communication issues.  I wanted to be dropped off at the beach, and he didn’t want to leave me there all alone.

The cabbie would not relent until we had stopped at the police station to speak to an officer who was slightly better at English, and finally allowed me to be taken to the beach when I gestured TENT to them. Ohhh, he says, TENT. Gotcha. Because you know all I need for night beach safety is a tent. Obviously. Whatever his reasoning, I was happy he finally took me there.

Upon arriving at Dadaepo Beach, I realized this might be more of an ordeal than I had originally imagined. The ultimate teams were not the only folks staying at the beach. There were probably over a thousand people all sleeping in tents or on long low tables, or just walking around. Booths featuring simple carnival games were mixed in with food booths. I wandered around the beach for probably a half hour, texting the two people I knew on the team, and hoping one of them wasn’t too drunk or already sleeping. My desperation point came when I was approached by two separate groups of guys trying to pick me up using their limited English. “Where you goiingggg?!? Come with us!” Umm, no thanks.

Just as I was trying to decide which family looked nice enough to let me stay in their tent (it was 1:30am at this point, I wanted SLEEP!) I saw a guy throwing a disc up in the air. He led me to the matching tents that belonged to the ultimate kids, and I could not have been happier.

After that bumpy start, the weekend sailed by. I made fast friends with the players and we played a lot of disc, had some beer and food, and had a great time. My team almost won the tournament, losing to a team in the finals that we had beaten the day before. It felt great to get away from Seoul and fall back into a familiar tournament routine.

On Sunday after the tournament, I decided to take my first trip to a ginjabong, or Korean sauna. After the games I was dirty, sore and tired, and the other players assured me nothing felt better than the sauna. I mustered up some courage to get naked in front of a bunch of Koreans, and made my way in. The sauna had 5 or so pools of differing temperatures, a row of sinks for cleaning up, one wet and one dry heat sauna and a fragrant cedar-lined hot tub (my favorite!)

At first I was a bit shy about walking around in all my nude glory, but everyone else seemed to be comfortable, so I shook it off. Until I noticed a group of young girls very obviously staring at me. Turns out they were just curious about me and anxious to try out the English skills they practice at their private school. The girls took turns asking questions about how old I am, where I live, what I do here, how long had I been in Korea… etc. I welcomed the distraction from my other anxieties, and chatted away.

Turns out I had nothing to be nervous about, after all.

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