A mission for Quietness
Posted by Heliocentrism on October 20, 2009
October 17-18, 2009
Just to get away from it all…
Every now and then I get tired of city life. I don’t think I will ever pack it all up and move to the country. Actually, I tried it twice… Didn’t like it. Instead I like to live in or near a big city and go camping on the weekends.
The first time, I was living and going to school in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. The crime and the traffic got to me and the crazy notion of moving to Walla Walla, Washington was somehow put in my head by my physics professor. I had romantic thoughts of waking up early and doing country stuff before classes. I don’t remember what they were now. Maybe I wanted to milk a cow or feed chickens.
Life in Walla Walla was so depressingly dull. There was nothing there. There was nothing to do. I had a boring job as a motel clerk and I was always jealous of the guests because they would check out and leave Walla Walla after staying just a few days.
The last straw came on the day I tried to get a library card. If you have ever been lucky enough to hold a Montgomery County Public Library card or a library card from any of the surrounding counties, you know the caliber of book borrowing I was used to. I walked into the library in Walla Walla with hopes of escaping my podunk town by way of literature. Yes, there was only one library. There might be more now, but when I lived there, there was only one.
It looked like it used to be a house and that, if ghosts existed, this would be the type of place worth haunting. It didn’t have tons of books, but I hoped that I could find something. I went up to the counter to ask for a form to get a library card. The librarian was very friendly. She smiled and asked to see some ID and something with my address to prove I was a Walla Wallain.
I handed her my driver’s license and letter from my dorm. Her smile disappeared. She then informed me that I was not a resident of Walla Walla, but of College Place and that I could not get a library card.
The town I was living in was so small, that I would have never thought that it was actually two towns really close together. To add to my disappointment, later that day I found out that other than the school library filled with textbooks and research papers, College Place had no libraries of its own.
I remember driving home in tears. I phoned my mom that evening blubbering about how I had made a huge mistake and that the past 3 months in Walla Walla were the worst 3 months of my life. (This is really bad when you consider that as a 10-year-old, I spent several months partially living in a house with no roof. Walla Walla was, hands down, way worse!)
My mom called my academic dean from my old college and they re-enrolled me at the school in D.C. Then my mom sent my brother, Malcolm, out to Washington to drive with me back to the east coast.
The second time was when I moved out to the country side of Japan after living in London, but I leave that for some other time.
Peace and Quiet?
This weekend was to be a little getaway for Mark and me. We wanted to be “one with nature”. It was to be a quiet couple days in the woods. When we camped here a few weeks ago it was really nice and quiet. So, we thought we’d go back.
We remembered that, although our last camping spot was nice, the higher you go up the trail the more open and scenic the camping spots got. We walked a lot further up the path this time.
We found a nice spot and set up our tent. Then we left to go get some meat to grill and water to drink. When we got back there was another tent set up and herd of ajummas dancing around and making a lot of noise.
We could tell from their supplies that the group of ajummas weren’t spending the night. We just had to wait until they left. They played games and made a lot of noise. It was a bit annoying since we did want quietness, but it was still entertaining to see them dance and have a great time.
At one point one of them got tired and decided to sit in our tent. Yes, a person we did not know just walked up to our tent and plopped herself down. She never spoke a word to us, or glance in our direction. She didn’t even say an “안녕하세요” to us. Later that same women walked too close to our firewood and fell onto it.
We didn’t mind someone sitting in our tent. We just wished she would have been courteous enough to ask first. Had she asked, we would have cleared a space for her and even invited some of the other ladies to sit with her. But, she didn’t, so we spent the rest of the time she was there staring at her suspiciously.
The group on a whole was not too bad. They were loud, but seemed very happy and that’s always good. At some point they gave us treats and booze. We gave them some chips and awkward English conversation. Then, long before sunset they packed up and left leaving a noticeable quietness in their wake.
Soon after, a little family with a screaming baby set up their tent near ours. Did I mention that this was a huge campground and that there was a plethora of other open spots to choose from? …some of these other spots were even easier to get to.
Then a small film crew came by. They just stood off to the side filming everyone. They stayed for a while filming. When they moved in for close-ups of the family camping next to us without even asking their permission, Mark and I decided to go for a little walk fearing that we would be next. I have no idea why they were filming, but I didn’t want to be part of it.
I have a friend who went to a festival and was asked by someone to pose for a picture. Thinking that it is just some guy or lady on vacation asking this, she said yes. Months later she saw that photo in an ad on the subway.
The night would have been quiet, but the people in the next camp over kept making noise. Their screaming baby cried for most of the night. The kid also woke up early the next day to get in some good screaming before the sun came up.
Don’t go there!
Once the screaming baby crew left, another group came by. These people liked to pee next to our tent. They would walk into the wooded area near we were camped, but they wouldn’t walk too far in. Maybe they were afraid of bears? We and anyone nearby could watch them pee, but they didn’t seem to care.
When the next group of merrymakers came by we gave up. There would be no quiet weekend for us.
Part of the reason why our weekend went so badly had something to do with Korean society. Individually, Koreans are really nice, caring people… Well, except for the really racist ones you’ll find every now and then, like in any society. But, most Koreans are really very nice and will bend over backwards to help you, just like all people in general, once they know you.
But strangers here are grade-A jerks. Strangers will bump into you, run you over, spit on you, swear at you, cut in front of you in line… There is really no sense of, “maybe we shouldn’t, others might not like it” or “that’s not mine, so maybe I should leave it alone”. Remember our tent sitting friend?
Its like everyone has a limited amount of politeness energy. If you use too much of it on strangers, you won’t have enough for family, friends, and co-workers. So, it’s okay to be a jerk to strangers.
Now it’s too cold to go camping. But we will take trips around the country and to other countries.
How to get there:
- You can enter by plane, boat, or train, though entry by train is rare if not damn impossible for most non-presidents of North or South Korea.
- Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to South Korea.
- People of most nationalities will get a 90-day visa at the airport or ferry port.
- To be completely sure, check with the Korean embassy in your country.
- Useful Phone Numbers when in South Korea
- Tourist Complaint Center 02-735-0101
- Police 112
- Ambulance and Fire 119
- Eat Your Kim Chi – Life in Korea as lived by 2 Canadians
- Korea is a generally safe country. You don’t really have to watch out for pickpockets,muggers, or scam artists.
- You should watch out when crossing the streets, beware of scooters on the sidewalk, and the little old ladies that will push you to get that last seat on the bus or subway.
- Use common sense and you will be okay.
- Things are generally inexpensive and there are many wonderful things to buy.
Enjoy Korea! I live there for 2 years and had a fantastic time.
How to Get There:
- 37°44’22.6″N 126°29’23.9″E
1- Via Gimpo Airport:
- Go to Gimpo Airport on lines 5, 9, and the Airport line.
- Go to the international terminal where the bus stops are.
- You should wait at gate #1 for bus #3. The ride cost a little over 3,000KRW from Gimpo Airport. You can use your T-money but you must first tell the bus driver your destination.
You can catch this bus at other stops in Seoul and Gimpo.
- Here is a picture of the stops in Hangul.
- Here is a picture of the time table in Hangul. It’s on the second row.
Get off at the last stop, Ganghwa Bus Terminal.
2- Via Bupyoung Station:
- Go to Bupyoung Station on Seoul line 1 and Incheon line 1.
- Go to the underground mall and through exit 23. Walk straight.
- Look for a blue #90 bus’ bus stop. They come by pretty often, so don’t worry if you miss it. The ride cost a little over 3,000KRW. You can use your T-money but you must first tell the bus driver your destination (Ganghwa-do).
Get off at the last stop, Ganghwa Bus Terminal.
3- Find a red buses that go to Ganghwa. Google says it’s #3000 and you can catch it from Hongdae Station.
- Do not swim too far out in the water on the north side of this island. The land on the other side is North Korea!
- 37°36’41.0″N 126°27’09.7″E
The directions are the same as the ones to get to Dongmak beach. They are both on the same road. If you can’t pronounce the name, just say, “camping” and point to your map.
From Dongmak Beach
- Take any bus going left to right when your back is to the beach . Tell the driver where you want to go.
- The entrance is not very obvious, so again, make sure to tell the bus driver where you want to go.
The picture above might be helpful if you can read Korean. The smaller fees are for entrance to the park. There is a mountain you can climb to visit a temple. Camping overnight cost a bit more. Mark paid about 9,000KRW for him and me. Having camped in Korea before I think the price is calculated like this:
- 2 adult entrance tickets: 1,500KRW X 2 = 3,000KRW (We were of a group of less than 30 people.)
- 2 adults with own tent: 3,000KRW X 2 = 6,000KRW
- total = 9,000KRW (about 9USD)
That’s how it worked at Muuido.
There might be tents to rent, but don’t count on it. It might be something that’s only available in the summer.
- There is a 24 hour Family Mart right by the entrance where you can buy food and supplies.
- There is a restaurant or two within the campsite, but they aren’t always open. Unfortunately we didn’t see a noraebang.
- The further you go up the better the campsites get.
- There are wooden platforms you can put your tent on, but you don’t have to use them.
- You can pitch your tent anywhere you find space.