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Thailand: A Breeze On The Beach

We flew out of Incheon Airport from Seoul to Bangkok. From there we flew down to Phuket to spend a few days on the beach before our departure for Bhutan. Phuket has incredible beaches and the weather was in the 80’s and hot, hot, hot! We tried to snorkel but the visibility was like 2 inches, we had a good kick out and back anyway. We stayed in a little hostel/hotel in Kata. It was clean and great. I only have a few pictures because most of the time was spent at the beach and Thailand probably wasn’t the place to just let it hang while I went off swimming! I did see my first elephant though which was a thrill. After I took the shot it stuck it’s trunk out at me and touched my head and face and I scratched the bottom of it’s trunk! Totally cool.



Snorkeling near Songaksan

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Wild Goat
A wild goat on the cliffs near the ocean.
The steps down to the lower cave
The steps down to the lower cave.
The bat!
One of the bats we found in the caves.
Leaving the cave
We crawled back out of the cave and down to the ocean to go snorkeling.

In the map above, near the southeastern tip of the main island, you’ll see what almost looks like a little island itself sticking out. That’s where this video was shot. It’s a very nice area and the drive there is very relaxing and mostly outdoors with little development. We parked at the top of the cliff and followed an old path down to the shore. There are wild goats that live in the rocks which is quite nice. We found an old man-made cave/bunker that the Japanese used in war time. There were bats and these strange glossy cricket looking bugs everywhere. After exploring the cave we went snorkeling. The water is still around 80 degrees, so it’s really pleasing. I’m going to be sad when it starts to get colder as the winter approaches.



Summer Vacation

The ferry ride to Udo
This is a view of eastern Jeju-do from the ferry ride over to Udo.
View from our hotel on Udo
I shot this off the balcony of our hotel. You can see the many oreums of eastern Jeju-do in the distance.

I just wanted to write a quick post about our summer vacation. We had 5 days off recently and we decided to travel to the east side of the island. We first went way out into the middle of nowhere to this oreum. There was supposed to be a traditional Korean shaman ceremony going on, but we ended up getting there too late and missed the whole thing! Nancy and I decided to look around a bit before heading off. Once we finished looking around we came down into this very small village and the next bus was going to come in over an hour. So we started to hitch hike and actually got a ride! The guy was soo cool. He took us directly to our destination absolutely free! Where he dropped us off was on the eastern most part of the island at the ferry terminal. We took a ferry over to Udo island. Udo is a very small island that sits right near sunrise peak. When we landed we rented some bicycles and rode around the island. The trouble is both of us dummies forgot to bring long sleeve shirts and the sun absolutely destroyed my poor arms. I did have a nice jungle hat to protect my head though. Anyway, we rode the whole circumference of the island and picked a hotel to stay at. We went swimming on a nice white sand beach and went out that night for some dinner at a local place where we sat out on the dunes and ate. We spent most of our off time back in Seogwipo just hanging out and snorkeling a lot. It was hard to go back to the grind yesterday after time off!



Sojeongbang Waterfall

Sojeongbang Waterfall.
Overlook near Sojeongbang Waterfall.
Overlook near Sojeongbang Waterfall with Seopseom Island in the background.

Today we woke up a little late but decided to go snorkeling at Jeongbang waterfall. Well, when we got there the surf was pretty rough and one of the locals quickly informed us that we weren’t allowed to go swimming in the ocean or around the waterfall. The locals are pretty fond of not letting anyone do anything it seems. Especially if it’s interacting with nature in some way. I still find this very strange. If I were to dump a bag of garbage out onto the shore as I spoke with this gentleman, I don’t think he would have found it strange… but going swimming in the ocean? Absolutely preposterous!

So we talked to the shop keeper on our way out and he suggested we try Sojeongbang waterfall as we would be permitted to actually touch the waterfall all we wanted. So we jumped on the bikes and headed over. It was a very short ride. The only entrance to the waterfall is walking through a restaurant… Are they trying to tell me something?

The fall was small but VERY powerful. The water hitting your back felt very good, but the water was almost like ice. It was a shock but felt so good after this sweltering summer heat and humidity. After playing in the water for a while we dried off and headed up to an overlook where I snapped a few more pictures.



Snorkeling at Oedolgae Rock

Nancy and I went snorkeling at Oedolgae rock early this morning. The weather has been VERY HOT and VERY HUMID, so a dive into the ocean felt extremely refreshing. We got in around 7:30am before the sun rises too high and becomes corrosive on my sensitive white boy skin. The video above doesn’t do the place justice. There were thousands of tiny fry fish swimming around us the whole time which was really cool. I tried using some weight for the first time today and it made getting down sooo much easier. I’m able to hold my breath for two minutes on land without too much trouble, but underwater I’ve been at about 30 seconds. I haven’t been able to calm myself down enough yet. I’m hoping to get to around one minute and thirty seconds soon in the water. I don’t think it will be too much trouble. The sensation of diving under the water without all the scuba gear is very freeing and liberating. I’m looking forward to a summer and fall of extended bottom times on a single breath.



Rugged Coastline

Here is a quick video that was shot on the coast between the KAL Hotel and the Paradise Hotel here in Seogwipo. Nancy and I went swimming here about an hour earlier and froze our butts off!

Coastline in Seogwipo, Jeju Island



Afternoon Swim at Soesokkak Beach

Today we ventured out to Soesokkak beach for a swim. It was bright and sunny compared to the last two rainy days. We took a cab on our way to the beach. At Soesokkak beach there is a river that flows down from the mountain and meets the ocean. We hiked up along the river and explored the rocks looking for a good swimming hole. In the end we chose to dive in right where the water meets the ocean on the beach. The sand on the beach was a black sand so it was very hot on my feet. It took a while to get up the courage to jump in the cold water but once we did it was very refreshing. We swam there for a little while and then decided to just walk back home instead of calling a cab. We skimmed the ocean line on our way back and ended up eating in a restaurant right on the shore at the base of Jejigi Oreum. We sat outside and had a spicy fish stew. At the end of my dinner something caught my eye out in the ocean. It was a pod of nearly 100 dolphins jumping completely out of the water! They looked like they were having fun and I certainly was having fun watching them play. After dinner we hiked to the top of Jejigi Oreum and that’s where I snapped these two pics. This first one looks away south with Seopseom island in the background. We ate just to the left of where you can see in the picture near the craggy rocks. The second shot looks away to the east where we came from. It’s hard to see, but there is a crane and to the left of the crane is a long concrete breakwater wall that they are building for a new harbor and just left and above that you can see the river pouring into the ocean at Soesokkak. All the round tube shape buildings are greenhouses that mostly grow citrus fruits.

South view from Jejigi Oreum with Seopseom Island in the distance
South view from Jejigi Oreum with Seopseom Island in the distance.
Eastern view from Jejigi Oreum with Soesokkak in the distance
Eastern view from Jejigi Oreum with Soesokkak in the distance.

Nancy at Soesokkak black sand beach.



more on breath and water

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. I haven’t had this much time to myself for many years. It’s both good and bad. Without a “regular” job to consume just about every waking moment of your life, your mind starts to wander. You get introspective, and all those things you continually push away in your mind suddenly get very cozy peaking into your consciousness. So mood swings are bound to ensue. But I think it’s very good to let those things manifest, and to accept them. I think many of us spend our lives pushing these thoughts away and wake up one day and wonder just what happened.

Up until recently I’ve been swimming a lot. I started swimming underwater at the pool after I got sick of just doing breast stroke laps for exercise. I started to notice how good I felt underwater. The lights produces pleasing patterns that dance on the bottom of the pool and there is a silence there that fills your body. Somehow when you dive down to six feet or deeper, the pressure and silence forces your thoughts inward. You can hear your heart beat like a hammer, you notice every small movement of your body. The more I started going under, the longer I wanted to stay there, have my mind there.

I started practicing breath holding and at the same time relaxation techniques. It quickly became a kind of meditation. The focusing of your mind on a single thing like this brings clarity, all of your other thoughts drop away and you are calm. At first I could hardly make it half way across the pool before feeling like I need to gasp for air, but slowly I could go farther and farther. I’ve made it two full lengths of the pool now. It feels so good, not how far I made it, but how my mind and body feel afterwards.

I’m trying to find that same kind of clarity now out of the water.