11-Sep-2003 -- Life as a foreign english teacher in South Korea is a rewarding, lucrative business but it does not allow for a lot of days off. It was partly for this reason, combined with an itch for adventure only relieved by a confluence attempt, that led 11 friends to spend their rare holiday time braving Typhoon Mayme in order to attempt one of Korea's offshore confluences.
Tuesday night at midnight we boarded the train from Iksan (our small city of 350,000) and headed South to Mok'po, a major port and dock for a fleet of ferries. We casually laughed at the idea that a Typhoon would be hitting the South coast within days and headed out..
We had a variety of options but we really wanted to make it to a place called ecstasy beach. We hurriedly bought tickets with 3 minutes to spare and raced to our gate. It was at this point that we were stopped and asked to fill out forms with our name and passport number (We didn't suspect until now that it was probably for our safety and identification in case of a typhoon). Not a single one of us had our passports and so we all quickly scribbled down some numbers and a few letters and ran through the gate. As we passed through the gate we were astonished to see the ferry departing. We were flabbergasted and ready to shake our fist at someone when a man motioned at the boat. It had turned around. The ferry re-docked and we sauntered aboard. The hospitality and allowance made for foreigners is astounding; not a single person's brow creased at the inconvenience of reversing a multiple-ton car ferry for 11 retarded tardy travelers.
The beach was awesome, ignoring the flotsam and jetsam, trash and Styrofoam; we had the whole place to ourselves. We set up our tents, played football, and gathered driftwood. The night was spent singing around a bonfire, drinking beer, swimming in the ocean, and rumor even has it that there were multiple "full moons" that night...
Things were going swimmingly. We were blissfully unaware of the behemoth of a typhoon lurking to the South of us. We were dropped off at the next island, in the middle of nowhere, by a grinning captain but we were confident we would find a small town 'just past those trees'... We got past the trees and found a garlic field and some far off houses. The people at the houses were frantically preparing their houses for the typhoon and were more than a little surprised to see 11 strangers arriving from the beach heavily laden with packs and tents. They arranged for us to pile in the back of a pickup truck and we were off bouncing along dirt roads past people squatting in rice patties, children staring dumbly, and old women double taking.
The infamous typhoon was apparently delayed and so instead of worrying, we decided to go fishing. We were dropped off at a beach with a huge net and some strange digging tools. Everyone set to work digging for clams as Ry, Nancy and Jeff headed out into the water. When they were waist deep they dropped the net and struggled to drag it back to shore. Let me tell you; there is a lot of drag on a 20 metre drag net. Our toils were rewarded with a heaping catch of 2 crabs, 10 shrimp, and about 5 fish. We took them back to our place, barbequed, and ate them all up. That night our hosts also treated us to their specialty. The food was wonderful and we had tried a bit of everything before it was brought to our attention that one of the side dishes had been raw chicken rectum. When in Rome, do as the Romans; When in Korea, eat raw chicken ass!
The typhoon was wreaking havoc on our plans and we learned that no boats would be leaving the island until it was over. We were able to find a man with a boat, though, who was making a killing evacuating people from the island. So, along with about 40 Koreans, we piled onto his motorboat and headed off. He couldn't take us to the main city, Mok'po, because he would risk incarceration for ferrying 50 people on a boat meant for 20 with no lifejackets, a few hours before a major hurricane! We don't blame him per se, but it did leave us once again in the middle of nowhere. A kind man with a van agreed to take us to a place he new. It was at this point that the first rains of the hurricane began to fall. The driver did not really understand the effect 11 people and their luggage has on a van, and bottomed out a few times, once knocking out a headlight. We eventually got to our bastion. It came in the form of an old Christian summer camp. After pushing our benevolent cab driver up a muddy hill, we bade farewell and set to exploring our new surroundings. We had the run of the place: 20 rooms, 2 kitchens, 2 bathrooms, a chapel/playroom, a patio, and our own beach for about 8 dollars each per night.
We realized that had the makings of any good 'B' horror flick; 11 travelers stranded in an abandoned hotel during a hurricane... It was decided that the only thing to do was play a murder mystery game. We planned it for a few hours and played it all night. Even though we all knew it was fake, it still got the adrenaline pumping to hear a blood-curdling scream come from the dark rainy expanse of a hurricane-battered hotel¡¦
So, in closing; we realize that this is hardly a suitable attempt at the confluence, considering we didn't even get within 10km of the spot. We do feel, though, that due to the extreme weather (Typhoon Mayme killed 82 people in Korea)it was a valient endeavor, and it would have been successful had we only been able to convince a boat captain to take us out in the stormy waters.
There are 22 available confluences off the shores of Korea; and the typhoon season only lasts a month...