Monday, May 3, 2010

A Day At The Beach - Sunday, April 11, 2010


I don't guess jet lag is ever going to be done with us. We awoke at 05:00 again today, but lounged in bed until 06:00. Ma and Pa woke up early, also, just after us, and began their day. I spent a good part of my morning uploading and tagging all the pictures I've been taking over the past few days. We all had an early breakfast, and Ok Hwa and I met the bus at 10:00.

The ride into town was crowded, and I gave up my seat to one of the elderly ladies early on. In town, we stopped by Dunkin' Donuts first for some real coffee and a donut. Next, we went over to this new building building we've been wanting to check out. This place is called "Home Plus" and "Anytime Cine Mall". It's six stories tall, and houses the Home Plus multi-level department store and American style grocery store on the first five floors. The top floor holds the Anytime Cine Mall complex. This is a mini-mall of nice, small restaurants, and a multi-plex movie theatre. This place is all slick and modern, and is very popular with teens and twenty-somethings, and with young families. A large portion of the front wall of the building is taken up by multi-story windows, and just inside these windows are escalators, cris-crossed back and forth, from street level up to the sixth floor. From the street you can see everyone going up and down the escalators, and from inside the building, the view gets loftier as you ascend. These are the most unique escalators I've ever seen. They have no steps, but instead are just long moving ramps, made out of the same type of metal construction as regular escalators. They are longer and less steep than regular escalators, but, they're very cool and functional.

After we'd gotten the lay of the land inside the Home Plus building, we decided to head east through Gangneung 'till we hit the waterfront. Neither of us had ever been over there before, but I was determined to check it out. I had seen a billboard advertising what seemed to be a static battleship display hereabouts somewhere. I figured it would be over at the harbor. Since we were already on the main east-west drag, we got aboard the next east bound bus that came by. It took us straight to the beach, called Anmok Beach. Funny thing is, though, that the city thinned out as we got closer to the beach. The buildings got lower, then fewer, and pretty soon we were in farm fields. This only lasted for a mile or so, 'till we started seeing tall apartment buildings, then the unmistakable sight of beach front high-rise hotel buildings. The last stop on the line was a block from the beach. The driver let us off here, then turned around and headed back into town. At least we knew how to get back, the 503 bus.

We walked over to the beach, and it was pretty much like the Gyeongpo Beach front - the surf, a beautiful beach, and a front street lined with hotels, seafood shops, coffee shops, and bars. There were not any pine trees by the beach here, like up at Gyeongpo. There was not a harbor full of Navy vessels, container shops, and oil tankers either. There was only a small harbor full of small fishing boats. It was formed by two jetties, one going out from the left and curving to the right, and another going out from the right to almost meet the first one. There was a small opening about one hundred yards wide, running perpendicular to the beach, where boats could enter and leave.

This is a nice beach, and you could tell the city had been investing some money into the infrastructure lately. There was a sparkling new public restroom building right by the beach. It had a spiral staircase leading up to an observation deck on the roof. Very nice. There was a new drive down to the small harbor, and the jetties which formed it looked almost new, also. The row of hotels, etc. just behind the beach ended about this point, where there was a beautiful, steep natural hill covered in pine trees just behind the harbor. There was a stone staircase leading up to a park at the top of the hill. We went up and discovered a nice new observation deck and gazebo, lots of benches, and a boardwalk through the trees. We followed the boardwalk to the south end of the hill, where we found an old anti-aircraft gun emplacement, flanked by concrete bunkers. The immobilized gun was still in place, and you could sit in the seat imagining you were defending the homeland from invaders. The view from up there was excellent in all directions. Just south from this hill is where the main river which flows through the town empties into the sea. There is a nice pedestrian bridge over the river at this point, and another beach with hotels, cafes, bars, and seafood restaurants on the other side. The day was cool and windy, and there were a number of windsurfers out in the surf. In the distance we saw a ship of some sort making it's way towards the harbor.

We descended the hill from one of the two other staircases on the south end, and made our way out onto the wide jetty which formed the south end of the harbor. There was a police station by the boat docks on this end of the harbor, and a white lighthouse on the end of the jetty. A red lighthouse was on the end of the other jetty coming around from the north side. We walked out to the end and made some pictures by the lighthouse. Just about this time, that ship we'd seen earlier made it's way into the harbor. It was a large tourist excursion ship, heading back in after a sightseeing tour. We thought we'd go over to the dock and try to get aboard if it went back out. Once we got over there, though, we saw that there were about ten or twelve tour buses parked by where the ship was docked. All the people getting off the ship were climbing into the tour buses. It looked like a package tour, and probably wouldn't be going back out again today. No loss, though. We were ready to move on.

We walked along the front street for a ways, scoping out the restaurants. We weren't in the mood for seafood, though, and that's pretty much all that was there. We decided to head back into town and eat at one of those cute little restaurants we'd seen in the Home Plus building. The wait for the bus was about twenty chilly minutes, but he finally came along.

We got back into town, and went into the Home Plus/Cine Mall building. Up on the sixth floor there was a lot to choose from. Ok Hwa really wanted Bi Bim Bob, and we found a nice little place specializing in just that. I ordered the Bulgogi, a favorite Korean dish for Americans. It's Korean style Bar-B-Q. Bi Bim Bob is a big bowl with a handful each of several kinds of chopped vegetables, a handful of BBQ beef, and a fried egg on top. You add the Korean hot pepper paste, a bowl of rice, mix it all up, and dig in.

After our lunch we headed back over to the Jungang Market to pick up some fresh fruits and a few other things to take back home. Then it was another long, chilly wait for the 308. On the ride home I was on the lookout for some interesting things to do tomorrow. There are a number of places along the route that look worth checking out. Today we got off the beaten path and did a little exploring, and it paid off. I'll try to convince her to go exploring again tomorrow.

A slide show of today's pictures:
http://s594.photobucket.com/albums/tt23/allenhare/Korea%2010/A%20Day%20At%20The%20Beach/?albumview=slideshow

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