Saturday, August 21: Today, Kathy & I went on a quest. I came across an article online titled: “Twelve Beaches Worth Visiting in the Summer.” I have only been to one of these, Haeundae Beach in Busan, and I’ve been dreaming of exploring the other 11. However, most weekends this summer have either been raining or threatening rain, so I’ve been waylaid on my intended expeditions.
Finally, Kathy and I drove in her little Matiz to Guryongpo beach in south Pohang. Wow! This place made the top 12 beaches?? I don’t know where they got their criteria for this article, but this was a pretty pathetic excuse for a beach. Earlier this summer, Kathy and I went to the MUCH nicer Chilpo Beach, just north of Pohang. Why isn’t Chilpo listed in this article?
Guryongpo is small, crowded, tacky & commercial, and has only waist deep water at its furthest-out point. We were both disappointed in it but decided that we’d stick it out since it seemed very “Korean.” Chilpo is more like a nature reserve, not much commercialism, and has a wide swath of beach. Granted, it’s covered in trash, but all beaches in Korea are covered in trash. As a matter of fact, most Koreans just throw their trash on the street everywhere. Trashcans are few and far between; being the anti-litter American I am, if I have a piece of garbage to throw away, I will carry it for blocks rather than toss it on the street. Sometimes I think, maybe I should just toss it; everyone else does. But I cannot bring myself to do it. All those anti-litter campaigns by the U.S. government in the 1970s really got ingrained in this person’s head. 🙂
As soon as we parked, an ajuma approached us and wanted 10,000 won for a “parasol,” which we gave her. I wanted an inner tube so gave her another 5,000 won. Kathy and I chilled, floated in the inner tube, read, waded in the knee-deep water, sunbathed, walked along the beach, talked. We got a hoot out of watching the Koreans at the beach. No one wears a bathing suit. They wear t-shirts and shorts/long pants, hats and sunglasses. Many of them wear these detached sleeves (yes, they’re NOT attached to anything!) on their arms and some wear masks over their faces. A lot of them wear life-vests in the knee-deep water. Very strange. I’m sure I was quite shocking to them with my white hair and my bikini. Of course, in a bikini, I’m shocking anywhere!
When it was time for lunch, Kathy and I walked along the road, looking for a place to eat. We couldn’t find a place that served lunch; most people sat on these platforms under tents and ate meals they cooked and prepared themselves right there. Or meals they prepared at home and brought along. They sat Korean style and ate these feasts on the wooden platforms.
We stopped at a little roadside shop to check out the goods and take some pictures. The ajuma put her hats on our heads and handed us a snorkel for the photo. I guess she figured she may as well get some free advertising.
Later, we found a restaurant with live fish in a tank. To order one of the fresh fish would have cost about 30,000 won, so we ate a simple lunch of rice and some Korean vegetables of seaweed, roots and kimchi. Washed down with a slightly cooled beer….Simply delish.
Still, fun times. I don’t know how this beach got in the Top 12 list….I guess it’s all in how someone defines a “top beach.” Do Koreans see this type of beach as better than a more natural, deserted and quiet beach such as Chilpo? I guess they do. I better check my sources next time.
After we got back from Guryongpo, we showered and changed and went downtown to meet Anna and Seth at Bocciaccio, a restaurant on the ground floor of the Hotel Ariana. Ben and Carly joined us as well. We ordered delicious formaggio and margherita pizzas & tall cold beers (this place is a brew pub) and listened to some live “easy listening” American music.
After, we went to noraebang for Anna, Seth, and Carly’s first experience. Crazy times all around! Since I’d been teaching California Dreamin’ at all my summer camps, I had to sing that, as well as Gwen Stefani’s Ain’t No Hollaback Girl, Ain’t No Hollaback Girl…..I never knew this song had so many nasty words in it. 🙂 (ooh, ooh, this my sh*%, this my sh*%…..)