Playing Moses: Jindo Sea-Parting (plus Green Tea Fields and Cherry Blossoms)

Spring has finally come to Korea and with the spring has come warmer weather, cherry blossoms, and tons of festivals. Two weekends ago we went with a tour group called Enjoy Korea (a different company than the one we went with to Seoraksan, thankfully) to the Jindo Sea-Parting Festival. Jindo is technically an island off the southwest coast of Korea, but it is connected to the mainland by a bridge. Once a year something strange happens with the tides so that the sea between the mainland and the island parts and creates a narrow land bridge you can walk across from one side to the other. This sounded like an interesting natural phenomenon, so we decided to go. We didn’t quite realize when we signed up that the sea-parting happens at 4 am and that we would have to get up around 3am on Sunday morning to see it, but by the time we figured that out, we thought, what the hay, it’ll be an adventure.

Jindo is a five hour bus ride from Daegu, but we stopped in Boseong on the way there on Saturday to see the green tea (or 녹차, nokcha) fields. These are the quintessential fields you see in tourism brochures and travel magazines. It was raining lightly most of the day, which actually made the tea fields very atmospheric because there was this rolling mist over the whole thing that was pretty cool-looking. It did make climbing up the terraces a little challenging since the paths were very muddy. Still, it was really beautiful and we were excited to go.

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At the bottom of the tea fields was a restaurant that sold several popular Korean dishes, each infused with green tea in some way. For example, for the bibimbap (a traditional dish made of rice and vegetables that you mix together with red pepper paste), the rice was steamed in green tea instead of water, turning it faintly green. Below the restaurant was a café that served some of the most delicious green tea ice cream I have ever had. I might have had two cups.

After a few hours in Boseong, we continued on to Jindo. We ate dinner in the town and then drove to our hotel and tried to get to bed early since we had to be back on the bus at 3:15 am to get to the festival. Jonathan and I shared a Korean-style sleeping room with three other people, meaning that we all slept on the floor. After a few hours of sleep, we got up and headed to the festival. When we arrived at the festival we bought thigh-high caution-cone orange rubber boots to wear while wading into the sea. We looked awesome.

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Small groups of people were given tiki torches to help light our way through the pitch darkness after we got out into the water. We waited for a while until someone told us we could start. Many a joke was made comparing us to Moses and the Children of Israel.  Then several hundred people all started tromping through the water, which was ankle deep at the beginning, but was up to our knees in the middle.

Disappointingly, because of heavy rain or some other factors, this year the sea did not actually part all the way down to the land, it just got relatively shallow. I don’t really have a concept of how deep it usually is there, so it was hard to know how impressed I should be. Regardless, it ended up being a pretty funny experience with all of us tromping out in the middle of the water in these thigh-high boots holding tiki torchers that were continually getting blown out by the wind. After we’d been walking for 20-25 minutes they announced that “the sea road is closing” and we all turned around and waded back through the water to the shore.

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Probably the funniest part was that there were all of this ajummas (older women) and some ajoshis (older men) stumbling around with these huge bags they were stuffing full of seaweed and clams and stuff. If I’ve never mentioned it before, the elderly people in Korea are major scavengers. You will see them in public parks all the time digging up random roots and things and collecting them to sell by the side of the road. I admire their resourcefulness, but you seriously never know where that stuff is coming from. Nor do you usually know what it is.

After returning safely to dry land we headed back to our hotel for a few hours of napping. We got up again and headed back to the festival around noon. This time, there was music and a parade and tons of different food tents set up. This was actually really exciting for me because Korea doesn’t have a huge international food scene. I took advantage of the opportunity and had kebab and Turkish ice cream from the Turkey tent as well as some spring rolls from the Vietnam tent. There was also some great-looking curry in the India tent and giant sausages in the Germany tent, but we couldn’t eat everything. Amusingly, the America tent just had fried chicken and lemonade.

There was a parade of some sort where people were dressed in costumes, I suppose to depict the story of the Mulberry Grandmother. As far as I understand it, the story is that there was a tiger loose on this island, so the people were fleeing, but the Mulberry Grandmother wasn’t able to go with her family for some reason. So she prayed and prayed that God would make a way for her family to come back to her and then God parted the sea and they were able to walk across to the island and see her. Personally, if my family left me behind on an island with a tiger, I probably would have prayed that God let my family be eaten by a tiger as punishment, but whatever. (Also I am 98% sure there are not tigers anywhere in Korea). But, that is the explanation for some of these fabulous costumes.

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That guy in the middle is disturbing on many levels.

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As are these “Native Americans”

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We are also in the middle of cherry blossom season in Korea and last Saturday we took a day trip down to Jinhae, a town on the southern coast of Korea that is known for its huge cherry blossom festival. Unfortunately, the festival was extremely crowded, so it was hard to get any of those stunning cherry blossom pictures you see in travel magazines, but it was still beautiful to walk around and see. We did a lot of walking as well as climbing the “One Year Stairs” (meaning there were 365 of them) to get a view from the top of a tower, so we were pretty worn out from our excursion. It was really great to spend time outside after such a long, gray winter.

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We are looking forward to more spring activities over the next month or two and then a blazing hot summer. My parents are coming to visit at the beginning of May and we hope to see some new places and do some exploring with them. In the meantime we are trying not to let yellow dust season take us down and trying to stay on top of the mold situation in our apartment, which has become a problem again with all the damp spring air and rain. Until next time, here are some more spring pictures for you to enjoy!

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The aforementioned “One Year Stairs”

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These things are awesome. Like ice cream inside of a tube made of Cap’n Crunch.

 

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4 thoughts on “Playing Moses: Jindo Sea-Parting (plus Green Tea Fields and Cherry Blossoms)

  1. Natasha says:

    Hi Lily and Jonathan. I love your blog! 🙂 I have been reading many of your posts over the last few days and enjoy the pictures and the adventures. You’re both great writers. My husband and I are looking to go to Korea for Aug/Sept of this year. We have started the process of getting notarized and apostilled diplomas, etc. and it’s quite a process. We’ve also started talking to recruiters. We had an awful experience already dealing with Reach 2 Teach, which I was surprised about because I had read good things. Do you still recommend using Gone2Korea? Were they helpful with answering questions about the process? Was it difficult to find a couples placement? Thank you so much. I will continue following your adventures! 🙂

    • lilyellyn says:

      Hey Natasha! Thanks for stopping by! Glad to hear you are heading our way. 🙂 We really did have a great experience with Gone2Korea. Our recruiter was named James and he was very patient, got back to us promptly on all of our questions, and at one point even called us on Skype from Korea to address our families’ concerns about the situation with North Korea (this was during that period that they were doing a lot of threatening). James got our EPIK application in the first day they started accepting applications and we had our interview scheduled within a few days. It was literally a week or 10 days from the time we submitted our application to the time we found out we were accepted. We did not have any trouble getting a couple’s placement since we’re married, though of course, we are in a larger city, so it might be more difficult if you were hoping to be more rural. EPIK will consider a married couple as joint applicants so they won’t place you in separate cities or anything like that, though there’s a chance one or both of you would be further than walking distance from your school. If you are interested in the private school (hagwon) route, we briefly worked with another recruiter, Dan from teacheslkorea.com, and he was also really wonderful. In particular he said he had a lot of connections for placing couples. So, depending on what you are looking for, that might be a good option for you too. If you have any more specific questions, feel free to shoot me an email! i’m happy to help however I can! lily.e.dunn@gmail.com

  2. […] In other news, we are kicking off May in Korea with a bang. My parents have arrived in Korea for a visit! They’ll be here for the next 10 days and we are off of work on Monday and Tuesday for Children’s Day and Buddha’s Birthday respectively, so we’ll have extra time to gallivant around the country.  And in case you missed them, pictures from our trip to the green tea fields and cherry blossom season are up on Two Sore Thumbs! […]

  3. […] the spring, we did a bit of traveling around Korea to see the green tea fields and attend a cherry blossom festival. In May my parents came to visit us in Korea and we were able […]

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