Friday, October 29, 2010

SWIMMING AROUND JEJU ~ WHAT I SAW.....


While i was swimming around Jeju i wish i had a swim cam. You know - a camera attached to my head so people could see exactly what i could see. If i had such a device the seas might be cleaner than what they are. I knew the sea around Jeju wasn't great; you just have to visit any beach to realise that. Nevertheless, i really wasn't prepared for the reality of what i saw. As i don't have a swim cam, i will just have to tell you.

The water i swam through smelled. And it smelled bad. Sometimes it smelled of sewerage, sometimes it smelled of oil and fuel, and sometimes it smelled of dead rotting fish. In some places it smelled of all those things together, like at Hengwon and at Pyeoson. Rather ironically, the only place where the sea DIDN'T smell bad was near Gangjeong, where the powers-that-be want to build a Naval base. The waters around Gangjeong smelled (and tasted!) like the ocean should - clean, "fresh", and salty.

I swam through a lot of garbage. Sometimes Steve had to call out so i wouldn't swim headlong into a plastic bag or an empty oil container floating in a pile of muck. But what was more disturbing was just how much garbage was under the surface, distributed throughout the water column as far as i could see. In too many places i would look down and see ramyeon bowls, drink cans, ice cream wrappers, cigarette lighters (!), foil and plastic packaging, plastic bottles and bottle caps, plastic forks and spoons, chopsticks and chopstick wrappers. I saw frightening amounts of polystyrene foam,  hundreds and hundreds of paper cups, and thousands of plastic bags, in every state of deterioration from whole bags to small fragments. And i saw plastic, plastic and more plastic. I was shocked and saddened to see small schools of fish eating it. Of course they will die.

Swimming at Hamdeok Beach with plastic bag, can, polystyrene foam and other detritus
(Photo Alicia Cabezuda)

Talking of fish, i didn't see a lot. And what fish i did see were all very small. One effect of overfishing is that the fish in affected areas don't survive long enough to grow into big, healthy breeders. The result is a less resilient fish population that matures younger, is smaller and weaker, and  produces fewer eggs. Sad to say, Jeju has over-exploited and very depleted fish stocks.

When you experience Jeju from the sea, as i did, it soon becomes apparent that there is very little of Jeju's "natural" environment left. Evidence of habitat destruction is everywhere.  It was very rare to not see a road, a building or a harbour all along the coast. 

Pyeoson Beach is representative of the kind of habitat destruction i'm talking about. It is often referred to as "tourism development". If you go there you can see that this area was once an estuary surrounded by sand dunes. Sand dune estuarine areas are home to particularly rich and diverse eco-systems. It has been completely annihilated. The creeks and streams have been built over and are now drains whilst the sand dunes have been flattened to make roads, carparks and picnic areas. All the plants and animals that made up that eco-system are no more.

Probably the most upsetting thing i saw during the whole swim was the way hundreds and hundreds of people picnicking on the grass at Pyeoson made no effort to take their rubbish with them when they left. To get to the beach to swim i had to walk, literally ankle deep, through the previous night's litter - pizza boxes, take away food containers, plastic bags, plastic bottles, broken glass, ramyeon bowls, drink cans, empty cigarette packets, ice cream wrappers, and so on.

It is this mindset and behaviour that The Jeju Big Swim hopes to change.

Sherrin

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

IT WASN'T JUST US ~ Part 1






IN THE BEGINNING.......

The Jeju Big Swim - what an adventure! But everyone needs to know that though i swam, and Steve kayaked, it wasn't just us. So here's a rundown on what it took to make The Jeju Big Swim.


In the beginning i didn't know if i really could swim around Jeju. I'd read about a guy, Martin Strehl, who had swum the Amazon. His swim inspired me to think seriously about swimming around Jeju as a way to raise environmental awareness. Martin Strehl was older (and fatter!) than me so i figured that if he could swim the Amazon, then maybe i could swim around Jeju - but i wasn't sure. So Arni Highfield and his family, visiting Jeju on their yacht Jade, offered to help me find out. Accompanied by Arni in a dinghy with the dinkiest outboard i've ever seen, and dodging some humongous jellyfish, i swam from Kimnyoung Harbour to Kimnyoung Beach, a distance of just over 2 kilometres. I knew then that swimming around Jeju was a do-able project.


I started training in the Ramada Hotel Sports Centre pool with help from swimming coach Kim Hyo Jin, and eventually met Steve Oberhauser, a white water rafting, mountain man from America, and soon to be the owner of a pretty, two-person, bright yellow sea kayak. The Jeju Big Swim Team was born.


Web pages, blogs, Facebook and Twitter are essential to a project like ours. However, being completely clueless about such things it was Justin Nalepa and Nicole Erwin who finally got us sorted. Justin and Nicole are STILL getting us sorted! And Lisa Caraway, despite crossing 3 continents, made our webpage. We finally had a presence on the www! Kenny Kim was in charge of the K-blog. He started off posting translated material we emailed to him but before long he was taking the material himself, translating it, and posting on the K-blog.


In the beginning Sung Mi was our media liaison person. But soon she was contacting people about money and sponsorship, setting up meetings and acting as translator. Sung Mi has been in on The Jeju Big Swim since the beginning and she has done a fantastic job.


As interest in the project grew Sung Mi, by this time taking final exams, was struggling to keep up with everything that was going on and we realised we needed a dedicated translator. Jisu joined the team - and we are so glad she did! Jisu's skills lay not just in her English language abilities, but in the way she could communicate in a way that culturally, both Koreans and us foreigners could understand. Now that's a skill!


Jessie Dishaw put together an Open Mic night for us. People came and that event not only helped spread the word about what we wanted to do, it raised over 400,000 won.


Major sponsorship was proving elusive so we were ecstatic when Prof Koh and Kim Miran invited us to swim as one of the official events of the 2010 World Environment and Peace Summer School. Under the umbrella of such a great organisation and with their promise of substantial funding we finally started to believe that The Jeju Big Swim would really happen. We were especially heartened when KCTV presented us with a cheque for 1 million won. After more rejections than we cared to think about, we had finally found a Jeju business willing to do more than just pay lip service to Jeju and its environment.


However, as we were to find out, that was just the beginning. Jeju girl, Hong Sunyoung, though living in England, put the word out to all her Jeju friends. They rallied to our cause providing us with in-kind practical support and much needed safety equipment. Jeju business woman Ra Jung Im not only put her office at our disposal for meetings, but spent considerable time, energy and money to provide us with distress flares. Yang Gi Jung gave us a first aid kit and Nuri Mart contributed snacks and drinks. Mr Yang of the Samyang Family Mart provided us with several Cass beer bags that proved extremely useful for stowing our gear on board the kayak.


Father Jerry Cotter demonstrated tremendous support for us by leading a "Blessing of the Fleet" ceremony attended by many supporters and well-wishers and the media.


The media started to take an interest thanks to friend and 해남 Lee Han Young in Seoul, and Sung Mi did a great job organising and coordinating all the interviews. In support of my training i had been given free gym membership by the generous people at the Ramada Sports Centre however a rather serendipitous meeting with Sarah Crivelli and Suzie Grace on Samyang Beach at just the right time got me out of the pool and training in the sea. I was getting fitter, i had the full support of my school, and start day was fast approaching......


Sherrin














Monday, September 13, 2010

Poem by Chai Ba-da

(Note: Ji-su translated this into English and Steve edited Ji-su's English translation.)

Challenge

Challenge is something beautiful
Although there is failure, the challenge itself is beautiful
It is the mightiest courage god gave to man
What other gift is better?
It is the mountain of hope one follows in spite of the pain and challenge
Do not give up
To fulfill the dream, accept the challenge
Beautiful people accept challenge
The confidence will allow one to stand up again after the fall
Who will give more courage and happiness?
Man exists because of challenge
Challenge, challenge, and challenge again
For the great challenge

-Chai Ba-da

THE JEJU BIG SWIM'S FINANCES

7,010,083 Won. The Jeju Big Swim received in donations.

3,519,093 Won. The Jeju Big Swim currently has in the bank.

3,490,990 Won. The Jeju Big Swim spent. This is how:

July 29th

050,000 phone Sherrin
100,000 phone Steve
150,000 phone Sung-mi
000,500 bank fee -Receipt
027,000 sun lotion -Receipt
088,560 E-Mart -Receipt

(416,060; 416,060)


July 30th

010,000 gas scooter

(10,000; 426,060)


July 31st

003,000 muffins -Receipt
005,300 fruit -Receipt
005,000 food

(13,300; 439,360)


August 1st

030,000 pot bing su -Receipt
040,000 galbi dinner -Receipt
003,000 food
010,000 gas scooter

(83,000; 522,360)


August 2nd

005,000 dry fruit -Receipt
004,430 yogurt -Receipt
030,000 Mrs. C

(39,430; 561,790)


August 3rd

045,000 samgyatang dinner -Receipt
020,550 Nonghyup grocery -Receipt
030,000 Sherrin's minbak
000,500 bank fee -Receipt
010,000 gas scooter

(106,050; 667,840)


August 4th

008,600 taxi
003,500 food
010,000 gas
014,790 food-Receipt
010,000 gas scooter

(46,890; 714,730)


August 6th

003,000 cake
026,000 lunch -Receipt
030,000 Sherrin's minbak
010,000 gas scooter

(69,000; 783,730)


August 7th

030,000 Sherrrin's minbak
016,000 guk -Receipt
005,600 breakfast -Receipt
000,500 bank fee -Receipt
008,960 Nonghyup grocery -Receipt
012,000 sun hats
007,760 food -Receipt
010,000 gas scooter

(90,820; 874,550)


August 9th

022,000 lunch -Receipt
060,000 Sherrin's minbak (2 nights)
001,700 PC Bang
017,100 food -Receipt
010,000 gas scooter

(110,800; 985,350)


August 10th

100,000 Seogwipo
005,700 Dunkin Donuts -Receipt
005,540 GS25 -Receipt
001,800 Family Mart -Receipt
010,000 samgyatang -Receipt
008,800 Paris Baguette -Receipt
005,000 fruit
020,000 doctor
010,000 gas scooter

(166,840; 1,152,190)


August 11th

030,000 Sherrin's minbak
010,000 doctor Sherrin -Receipt
004,300 doctor Sherrin -Receipt
003,000 bath
005,000 lunch -Receipt
006,000 gas scooter
015,000 taxi Mr. CBD -Receipt
050,000 overall transportation Sung-mi

(123,300; 1,275,490)


August 12th

030,000 Sherrin's minbak
004,300 doctor Sherrin -Receipt
039,460 E-Mart -Receipt
000,500 bank fee
050,000 phone Sherrin -Receipt
004,000 gimbap
013,300 food -Receipt

(141,560; 1,417,050)


August 13th

030,000 Sherrin's minbak
005,000 galbitang -Receipt
004,500 peaches
004,300 doctor Sherrin -Receipt
008,800 Family Mart -Receipt
014,400 Paris Baguette -Receipt
005,000 bakery
002,690 gas scooter
003,300 food

(77,990; 1,495,040)


August 14th

030,000 Sherrin's pension
001,500 Family Mart -Receipt
005,250 eggs, peaches -Receipt
005,600 Family Mart -Receipt
004,000 food bakery
006,000 T-Money -Receipt
205,000 business cards

(257,350; 1,752,390)


August 15th

030,000 Sherrin's minbak
003,200 bakery
014,540 food -Receipt
005,400 gas scooter

(53,140; 1,805,530)


August 16th

007,200 Paris Baguette -Receipt
010,900 Paris Baguette -Receipt
053,000 E-Mart
030,000 Sherrin's minbak

(101,100; 1,906,630)


August 17th

014,040 food -Receipt
001,000 Jungmun Beach shower

(15,040; 1,921,670)


August 18th

040,000 Sherrin's minbak
005,900 Paris Baguette
005,000 peaches
004,100 doctor Sherrin
001,000 gimbap
018,010 food -Receipt
005,950 gas scooter

(79,960; 2,001,630)


August 19th

035,000 Sherrin's minbak
025,000 dinner
022,260 Hanaro Mart
002,500 drinks
002,000 plastic bags
003,200 Sandasoo
050,000 Sherrin's minbak
004,900 taxi
016,000 food
003,500 GS25
026,350 Hong Mart
006,500 Paris Baguette
000,500 bank fee
005,500 PC Bang
002,400 GS25

(205,610; 2,207,240)


August 20th

007,000 sunglasses
004,600 taxi
002,900 Pocari Sweat
005,500 PC Bang

(20,000; 2,227,240)


August 22nd

005,000 buses
014,200 Paris Baguette
018,820 Hanaro Mart

(38,020; 2,265,260)


August 23rd

045,000 dinner
027,000 sea sickness patches
034,000 food
005,000 energy drinks
052,000 key shop
010,000 gas scooter

(173,000; 2,438,260)


August 24th

018,270 New World
040,000 fuel
034,000 fuel

(92,270; 2,530,530)


August 25th

004,300 doctor Sherrin
016,610 food -Receipt

(20,910; 2,551,440)


August 26th

015,000 doctor Sherrin
017,710 food -Receipt

(32,710; 2,584,150)


August 27th

001,400 doctor Sherrin
006,500 antibiotics Sherrin

(7,900; 2,592,050)


August 28th


167,460 LOOSE CASH
(Note: In Sherrin's possession at last report for finances, money will be either spent on The Jeju Big Swim related matters, or deposited back into the account.)

(167,460; 2,759,510)


September 3rd

005,320 food -Receipt
003,170 gas scooter

(8,490; 2,768,000)


September 6th

053,000 concert set-up meeting

(53,000; 2,821,000)


September 9th

300,000 last day set-up, food, concert

(300,000; 3,121,000)


September 13th

058,200 last day lunch for preparation

(58,200; 3,179,200)


September 19th

111,290 Sung-mi communication fee

(111,290; 3,290,490)


ADJUSTMENTS

030,000 Sherrin's minbak
037,000 Lunch, August 8th -Receipt
010,000 Sung-mi transportation, August 8th
002,000 PC Bang 2 nights, August 8th
007,800 Food, August 8th -Receipt
015,210 Food, August 8th -Receipt
050,000 Food, September 4th and 5th -Receipts
048,490 LOOSE CASH
(Note: In Sherrin's possession at last report for finances, money will be spent on The Jeju Big Swim related matters, or deposited back into the account.)

(200,500; 3,490,990)

-Steve

DAY 44 COMPLETE (LAST DAY!)

The last day!

Together with three Jeju lifeguards, the crew of 4 swam 3 kilometers from just east of Sarabong to Samyang Beach to hordes of media. Unfortunatly Sherrin wasn't able to swim the last 51 kilometers of the original planned route. An achievement nevertheless.

A concert marked the end of our journey.








-Steve

Saturday, September 11, 2010

UPDATE ...

Although the sea and wind provided terrible swimming conditions, thus none took place, the kayaking conditions were ideal and I finished the last stretch out of a harbor more than 5 kilometers west of Iho Beach to Samyang Beach - a grand total of 19 kilometers from 2 to 5:30 p.m.

A BIG THANKS to Mr. Lee (bike shop owner) who facilitated the kayak getting in the water at the entry spot.

I have met some of the purest, most genuine people on Jejudo. Mr. Lee is one of them.

Sunday's plans are the same as stated in the entry for Sunday's plans. We are swimming the last 2 kilometers from Hwabuk Harbor to Samyang Beach, entry at 2 p.m., arrival at 3.

CONCERT IS AT 6 P.M.!!!! See below ...

-Steve

Friday, September 10, 2010

KAYAKING: DAY 43 COMPLETE

Saturday, September 11, 2010: The kayak officially made it around the island.

There's something magical about kayaking alone for 19 kilometers in 3.5 hours, with the wind at my back, a strong tide carrying me forward, watching airplanes take off and land on the runway stretches adjacent to the sea, paddling past Tapdong, past Jeju City Harbor, and being greeted by a magnificent rainbow en route to a safe landing at Samyang Beach.

-Steve

Sunday's concert at Samyang Beach (6 p.m.)

All are encouraged to attend this free concert to celebrate the conclusion of The Jeju Big Swim.


Who: Boos Music Records'
P to the Lee, Jaydi, and Mulan

Where: Samyang Beach, on the grass next to the Lighthouse restaurant

When: Sunday, 6 p.m.

What: a mix of new age, acoustic, electronic, peaceful, and popular music


Here are three video clips:

http://tvpot.daum.net/clip/ClipView.do?clipid=26582199

http://tvpot.daum.net/clip/ClipView.do?clipid=26591415

http://tvpot.daum.net/clip/ClipView.do?clipid=26582200


-Steve

Environmental Notes ...

This is just my opinion:

Jeju happens to be, based on potential, I think, one of the most beautiful places in the world. "Potential" is the key word. In reality, I can't wait to get back to pure nature in the secluded mountains of the Blue Ridge, and am counting down the days.

Back to Jeju. There are two things (and an additional minor note), that Jeju could do in the future to live up to its slogan image of "The World Comes to Jeju, and Jeju Goes to the World." For the world (outside of Chinese, Japanese, and mainland Koreans) to come to Jeju, there have to be reasons. And, tourism may be the only thing Jeju has in the future.

The island has three main environmental positives: UNESCO sites of Hallasan, Seongsan Ilchulbong, and the Geomunoreum Lava Tube System, many diverse beaches, and the ever popular Olle courses. The main problem is these are not environmentally pristine. They're dirty. However, this can be solved.

Jeju's beaches are definitely worth visiting. Each one offers something another doesn't. But, for world travelers to come and spend money, the beaches need to be clean and pristine. It can't be that hard for the government to invest money in infrastructure and equipment to make this a reality. Industrial sand sifters exist! And I've worked on smaller ones with an ATV having a pull-behind attachment 13 years ago out of high school working for my hometown's Department of Public Works at my local beach. This is not new technology. Having garbage cans at every beach, that are artistic and ergonomically fitting to the landscape are a must. It is possible to keep the beaches clean and year round! True there is going to be garbage washing up on the beach daily. It needs to be picked up every day before it becomes a part of the sand. Jeju could have a real slogan it could be proud to tout to the international (outside of the Asian region) audience, something like "Diverse and pristine, Jeju offers 30 of the world's best beaches." Word of mouth spreads fast.

Olle courses are fast becoming trendy. But pure nature outside of Korea doesn't have thousands of empty plastic bottles and plastic shards to offer reflective hikers. It would probably take thousands of people a long time to adequately clean the Olle trails to a level of international standards, where some day a European is going to tell their friends, "I spent one week hiking Jeju's Olle trails and I didn't see one piece of litter. The nature was incredible." Now that is a pipe dream. Too many people in a small space. Keeping the Olle courses clean is the biggest problem. Subtle, yet well thought out and placed refuse containers, are again, a must. I am fascinated how collectively prideful Korean people are, but, collectively, not about their own environment. The Olle courses may have to move toward some classier markers, as well.

The pit toilets at the UNESCO sites must go. You cannot ask a fat European man or a high-class debutante to honestly squat at a UNESCO site. If international tourists are what the island desires, international toilets (at least throne, pit toilets) are what it needs to provide. It's as simple as that. Also, there are enough horses on the island, calcium lime or its equivalent has to exist here. Have a worker spread it down at least once a week, preferably more. The UNESCO sites need to be clean. I've doubled over a few of the 100 or so times I have entered a pit toilet on Hallasan's hiking trails from stench.

I find oftentimes Jeju is like an American teenager. It has no identity. It's debating its next henna tattoo, or piercing, or sultry piece of clothing, yet with no thought to the future, just instant gratification. I've heard the cruel moniker "peasants with technology" label from international travelers. Rise up Jeju people. Take more pride in your land. Travel. Realize that Korea is less than 1 percent of the world's population and it may be shocking the other 99 percent may think a lot differently than you have been taught. Travel will reciprocally also offer an opportunity on how to improve the future of this island's tourism.

International tourists will come if there are reasons. Find ways to make this happen, instead of saying they are already here.

-Steve

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Saturday and Sunday's final stretch ...



We - Sherrin, Sung-mi, Ji-su, the vivacious Young-lim myself, and four other Koreans (named later), plus two other Koreans working close, but not directly, in the meeting space - were present Tuesday night to finalize plans for Saturday and Sunday.

It was Sherrin's 52nd birthday Tuesday and after the meeting, close by, we ate galbi tang at a "famous" Jeju restaurant.

On Saturday, Sherrin is going to drive me, the kayaker, to my last point of take out for re-entry and I will paddle to Iho Beach to meet the "New Jeju Swimming Crew" at 1 p.m., I believe.



From this point, weather permitting of course, Sherrin will swim from Iho to Dodu Harbor (a distance of 2.25 kilometers), and will relay off to Mr. Lee Jeong-hun from Dodu Harbor to Yongduam (4 kilometers), who will relay off to Ms. Park Hyeon-ha and Ms. Cho Yun-jeong from Yongduam to Tapdong (1.75 kilometers). Meanwhile, Mr. Kim Cheon-dae will be swimming all legs, the entire 8 kilometers. I will accompany for the duration.

All four members, apparently, are swimming for the Jeju City Hall Swimming Club, although Mr. Kim is the president of the Jeju Sea Swimming Club. All four are lifeguards. On Sunday, we will all get in the water just east of Sarabong and head to Samyang Beach arriving between 2 and 3 p.m.

A concert is scheduled for 6 p.m., - everyone is invited!


-Steve

Sunday, September 5, 2010

KAYAKING: DAYS 36 and 37 COMPLETE

I went from Chagwido Harbor to Gwakji Beach (23 kilometers) on Saturday afternoon/evening, and bright and early Sunday morning I managed another 11 kilometers from Gwakji Beach to a harbor a few kilometers west of Iho Beach.

If The Jeju Big Swim was a novel, the storyline is basically complete and it could be sent off to the publisher's press in a few days.

There are just a few more small chapters to write about Saturday's journey and Sunday's arrival and concert at Samyang Beach.

Everything that follows - whether it be extra money support for environmental action or education, additional media attention, or another repeat attempt next year (with different characters, I presume) - is for now, a future addendum or an entirely new story to be written.

The climax of this current adventure was our arrival at Chagwido Harbor on August 23rd. After 11 days of inactivity, Sherrin, myself, and Sung-mi met KCTV at 12:30 p.m., Saturday afternoon for a television news story before I paddled solo turning the northwest corner of the island.

A solemn, peaceful, non-stop cruise into Gwakji Beach awaited me for a bit more than 5 hours. I wish I had the pictures of this stretch, but words will have to do. And I was so far offshore, there was really nothing worth taking a decent picture of coming up to Biyangdo while passing Jeolbuam,Yongsu-ri, Yongdang-ri, Geumdeung-ri, and the tandem, white-sand beauts of Geumneung and Hyeopjae beaches. I continued and went by Ongpo-ri, Hallim Port, Hansu-ri, Suwon-ri, and Gwideok-ri. Just getting by Hallim Port, a police boat cruiser came in close, and shouted "Hana?" (meaning One?") I gave an affirmative grunt. One minute later, one of the two deficient English-speaking officers yelled, "Hey!" and gave me a thumbs up.

Under dusk, Gwakji Beach appeared and I landed at the most eastern stretch of sand, set up the tent, made some phone calls and texts, and worried about getting up at 6 a.m., to continue onward.

I made my way to the off-beach center of makeshift markets and found Pocari Sweat, cheese and crackers, and corn chips, as the older male owner was dutifully being served dinner by his wife. I hope young Korean women realize this is not how it works in the rest of the industrialized, non-Confucian world.

I tried to get some sleep in the lumpy sands of Gwakji, but was beset by other problems of the distant cell phone ringtones blaring the most intelligent Korean pop music, fireworks, and soju-fueled arguing. I thought to myself there must be more to life than this. Immediately, I was more homesick than I had ever been in the last two years. Sleep occurred at some point.

Awoke about 6 a.m., off in the kayak before 7, and struggled east. On my right was the picturesque coast road between the beach and Hagwi, where I was forced to stop at the harbor due to an oncoming strong wind and the tide going in the wrong direction. I called Sherrin and Sung-mi about 11:15 a.m. They picked me up and took me to Iho Beach to film for a KBS-produced show to air the following weekend.


-Steve

Nearly There.....

The Jeju Big Swim reached Chagwido on August 23rd. Since then, work commitments, inclement weather, a nasty infection in my foot (that has now moved to my knee) and the difficulties of maintaining such a high level of fitness now I'm back at school, has meant that Steve kayaked by himself this weekend to get as far as [a few kilometers west of Iho Beach] - that's a huge [34] kilometers! (He's kayaking, so I get to blog!)

Our plan to finish The Jeju Big Swim is for me to meet Steve at Iho Beach next weekend and together, in company with a group of Jeju lifeguards and swimming instructors, swim the relatively easy final stretch back to Samyang Beach, arriving some time in the afternoon. The Jeju Big Swim will finally wrap up with live music on the beach starting about [6 p.m.]

We hope all our supporters will come along and party.

We are still working out the details and logistics, but we'll update here as it all comes together.

- Sherrin Hibbard

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Phase 2 is in the planning stages.

My thoughts:

The most important thing. The goal – one of many – is to raise environmental awareness. How is that going to happen? It already has, but two main ideas: 1) I just finished balancing the books and as a team, we have only spent what our main sponsor, The World Environment and Peace Summer School, has given us – 2,500,000 – and what was donated in-house (200,000) from team members. Translation: We have more than 4,000,000 Won in The Jeju Big Swim bank account, which is EVERYONE’S donation, from KCTV’s 1,000,000 to Gwaneumsa’s healthy offering, to the 10,000 given to us on the Seogwipo docks. It’s all there and we have bandied the idea of using 100 percent of the money toward environmental educational program(s). 2.)

How to finish? We are having a meeting tonight (Thursday), and will work out the logistics. We are getting a relay team – including members from the Jeju sea swimming club – all Koreans, I believe. The more people involved, the better. The more Koreans involved, better times two. The more Jejudo Koreans involved, better times three. Relay is really open for interpretation. One person may swim 1 kilometer, the next 2 kilometers, any amount, in any order toward completion. Maybe during the last stretch, we can get all the participating relay members, led by Sherrin, to swim into Samyang the last 1 or 2 kilometers together.

Health. Personally, for the swimmer (and kayaker), finishing the project, as stated above, retains our overall health.

One more thanks. Our last donation that came in was from Kim Kyoung-ho. Thanks for the support. While relaying this information in an e-mail, Ji-su wrote, "Bless this man. Really."

-Steve

Sunday, August 29, 2010

DAYS 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 REST & WORK

The next possible chance to get in the water will be Saturday, September 4, 2010 during Day 36 of The Jeju Big Swim.

-Steve

Saturday, August 28, 2010

DAY 29 REST

Well, I wrote too soon.

The weather for Saturday, August 28, 2010, has strong winds, heavy rains, and 2- to 6-meter swells, making swimming and kayaking virtually impossible, and the Coast Guard instructed we could not go.

If an order is given in Korea, disobedience results in something akin to a beheading (and we would not be stupid and go out in this weather).

Although - I'm currently writing this at 8 a.m. - looking at the sea from my window in Samyang, it looks really, really, really, really calm.

-Steve

Friday, August 27, 2010

DAY 28 REST

Question: Why are all these people so happy?


Answer: The Jeju Big Swim starts again early Saturday morning from Chagwido Harbor (and the blog is fully updated, check out all the pictures from the last few posts and newly written DAY 24 NOTEBOOK)
.
Stay tuned.
.
Today is Friday, August 27, 2010.
.
Thanks for all the pictures, Sung-mi! Can you talk yet, Ji-su? What's Kenny doing?
.
-Steve

Thursday, August 26, 2010

DAY 27 REST

By the end of Sunday, we could be at Gwakji Beach.

What's new: I updated the blog entry for DAY 24 SUCCESS, and there is a guest blog by Eugene. Please read both. I'm updating pictures for these Thursday night.

I will write a lengthy post for the DAY 24 NOTEBOOK tonight (Thursday) and when I do, the blog will be current.

Today is Thursday, August 26, 2010 for Day 27 of The Jeju Big Swim.

We are resting.

-Steve

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

DAY 26 REST

Wednesday, August 25, 2010.

Rest.

Preparing for a long, successful weekend.

-Steve

DAY 25 REST

Tuesday, August 24, 2010.

Rest.

Preparing for a long, successful weekend.

-Steve

DAY 24 NOTEBOOK

After a long rest, here are Day 24's ideas:

Positive comment 1. From the Korean blog (edited): "Hi Sherrin! Success of your journey is near. You are so great, and your teammate Steve, too. May all Jeju people come to know your struggle. I miss your big smile and nice talking with you. Please keep your pace and health toward a satisfying end. Take care! Kim (JW).

Positive comment 2. Also from the Korean blog (edited):

I am Miran's father. I heard from Miran that you are very interested and trying hard to clean Jeju's environment.

I believe this will be a great opportunity to start letting the islanders know the importance of the natural environment and start protecting nature on their own.

We, the islanders, should start protecting and preserving the beautiful environment. I would like to thank you as part of the island. Although you are a foreigner, you have gone forward cleaning the environment.

I was very moved that foreign English teachers on one side work hard for Jeju English education, but also do a good deed, trying to protect and preserve the environment.

I have sent a small amount of money to be a part of this good-cause project. ... Kim Kyoung-ho.

Blast from the past. Here is Mr. Kang, from the Korean Coast Guard and Marine Police, stationed at Wimi. We have been noticing some of the best English speakers, and all-around good people, on the island are the young men from the Coast Guard. Mr. Kang included.



Negative comments. On Saturday night, after landing in the harbor closest to Seorim Suwonji, I unleashed a vituperative harangue toward Sherrin. We have since moved on. What was said? Young-lim has it on film, at least the first half, and will do with it what she sees fit. When I asked later how much she filmed, she said she stopped midway. She was shocked at what was spewing from my mouth. At the same time of filming this, she was lending her car tools to two policemen, riding in one car, who met us at arrival. Their tire was punctured ("punc"-ed in Konglish), and trying, according to Young-lim, to use the wrong-sized tools, for their tire. She called them something equivalent to the Keystone Cops.

Before the vituperative harangue. Upon arrival, Young-lim presented me with an off-orange plastic bag filled with red and green peppers. I consumed them all within two days.

After the vituperative harangue. With a fractured team, Sung-mi and I met Kim Cheon-dae, head of the island's sea swimming club (my apologies, if that does not translate well into English) and Red Cross member, along with his family, for dinner to discuss an opportunity for members to join the project and possibly swim with us during a portion of the trip, or after the project is completed.

While things were in disarray, the money to pay for dinner was not on Sung-mi or me, so we had to call Young-lim, who 5 minutes later, barged into the restaurant door, and asked (loudly), "Do I look like a postman?" Everyone's head, about 15 total, in the restaurant, turned and looked at the spectacle before their eyes.

Well after the vituperative harangue. I received a ride home to Samyang on Saturday night from Young-lim (driver) and Sung-mi (backseat passenger). During this voyage, I'm not exactly sure what happened. But, these things did occur:

1.) Young-lim started playing some music and belted out Queen's "Somebody to Love" live performance sung by George Michael at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, from the April 2, 1992 show at Wembley Stadium.

2.) I explained the meaning of a few English words. After talking about Queen, Sung-mi was curious what "bi" meant.

3.) All three of us have birthdays in December; and at 49 and 31, Young-lim and I share the same birthday on the 11th, respectively. Sung-mi was amused, thinking this holds great importance.

4.) Sung-mi asked me: "Steve, you get so excited when you talk you Young-lim. Why?" True. Many times when I talk to women, I get excited. I'm a man.

Keys lost. In the midst of all the previous days' logistics, keys for my scooter, scooter wheel lock, and pension went missing. My best guess is I took all three out of my windbreaker and threw them in a plastic bag during transport. Later, I discovered the plastic bag had a large hole(s) in the bottom.

What have we lost at sea? Our tally for the trip so far: Six almost full plastic bottles of water and a near empty sunscreen bottle (due to an early landing just before the typhoon), my original sunglasses (terrible landing at Hwasun), and today, a contaminated plastic bag (from the passenger).

Camera bites the dust. It was only a matter of time. I have taken thousands of pictures with this gem the past 2 years, and it now needs to go back to the factory to be revived.

-Steve

Guest blog By Eugene Craig Campbell

[On Monday,] Steve and Sherrin visited Korea's first (and so far as we know only) fish farm using a salt water Recycling Aquaculture System (RAS), about a kilometer inland at Yongsu-ri near Gosan. It produces shrimp for the live-fish market. Sea water is recycled through the system continuously to remove waste and oxygenated, not dumping anything directly back to the sea. A small amount of processed waste passes into the city sewer system for further processing, but the solids are being collected to produce fertilizer and most of the soluble nutrients are consumed by microbes in the bio-filters. This type of fish farm is estimated to be ten times more environmentally friendly than the dozens of other fish farms that ring Jeju Island, as well as the thousands more on mainland Korea, Japan and China.
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Sherrin knows much about shrimp, having spent many years fishing them on commercial vessels. She was at the site when the plant was still under construction three years ago, and she knows the Australian Geoff Orpin who imported the technology to Korea. She chatted merrily with Mr. Kim and inquired into such things as biofiltration, waste disposal and feed. This factory was designed to grow fish, which need cleaner water than do shrimp. With some modifications it can be converted for virtually any kind of fish, and the design is destined for export to the Korean mainland. There are many shrimp farms in Korea, but since they depend on the ambient temperature of the water they pump in from the sea (and immediately pump back out) the shrimp only eat, thus grow, for the warmest three months of the year. This facility in Jeju, by maintaining the water indoors, can keep the shrimp warm enough to grow, and be sold, all year long.

Northeast Asia is the most populated region in the world, and the seas around here are very dirty. While Jeju enjoys relatively cleaner water than other shoreline areas in the region, here too there is danger from the type of seasonal dead zones that already plague the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, our close neighbor, as well as nearby areas of China. Nutrient runoffs -- silt and clay down the rivers (Jeju has fairly little of that), agricultural chemicals (but Jeju farmers use a lot of that), human and animal sewage even after it is treated, and fish farm effluent -- all cause algae blooms and disrupts the plankton balance that is characteristic of a healthy ocean ecosystem. Already the world's oceans have seriously degraded from human causes, in some areas including Northeast Asia very severely.
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Already some 30% of the fish people eat worldwide is farmed, and that figure increases each year. Switching to RAS from standard fish farming -- sea water in, water plus fish dung and metabolic waste out
-- will make a major contribution to cleaning up the seas. In the world of aquaculture, RAS is the parallel of organic farming. Standard fish farms are also forced by economic conditions to lace the fish food with antibiotics, a problem that RAS (with its capacity to control water quality control) does not face.
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For 3,300 pages of scientific details on virtually every important issue on ocean health, yet laced with easy-to-understand layman's explanations, visit
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http://www.seafriends.org.nz/.
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At the Seafriends website you will find plain talk, perhaps rather uncomfortable to learn, on what needs to be done to save the sea. It is a formidable task for us and our continuing generations, yet we must take up the yoke and do what we can, because the sea is our biological mother not only from eons past but now as well. It continues to nourish all life on earth with water (rain originates from the sea) and with oxygen from phytoplankton conversion of sunlight (more than half of the planet's oxygen supply is estimated to be coming from the sea, rather than from plants on land as had been previously thought).
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The sea may seem so distant from our daily life, except those few who live nearby or make their living directly from it -- but it is of vital importance for the future of human life and all other life on this planet. Don't mention its recreational value, or its capacity to provide fish in sustainable management of fisheries.
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Scientists understand the ecosystems on land in minute detail but the sea is, literally, a totally different world that runs by radically different biological laws; very, very, very, very little is known about the extraordinarily complex ecosystem of the ocean, wrapped up in the mysterious bio-functions of a "googleplex many" microbes too small to be seen with an optical microscope. We are just barely beginning to learn about the sea, even the geography of the ocean floor.

But we already do know that we dump too much junk, and that a large portion of it ends up in the sea. We know that both seasonal and permanent dead zones have been increasing triplefold (!) about every ten years from nutrition runoff. We know that gigantic areas of both the Pacific and the Atlantic have collected floating junk plastic that either decomposes extremely slowly or maybe never at all. We know the plastic kills various types of sea life. What else do we know? We know that we human beings are responsible to clean up the mess we have made.

How few of us have the capacity to swim around Jeju or paddle the distance in a kayak! Yet each of us can do something. Let's do what we can.


-Eugene Craig Campbell

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

DAY 24 SUCCESS

This an account for the events happening during Day 24 of The Jeju Big Swim for Monday, August 23, 2010.

All times are approximate, minus the cell phone log.

3:00 a.m. - Sherrin wakes up at her apartment in Samyang.

3:45 a.m. - Steve wakes up in his Samyang pension.

4:39 a.m. - Cell phone, Incoming, 32 seconds, Sung-mi. She is wondering where we are and how I am getting to the starting point.

4:45 a.m. - Sherrin picks up Steve.

5:05 a.m. - Sherrin and Steve pick up Sung-mi, who doesn't sleep. We are off to the harbor near Seorim Suwonji, where the kayak is locked up.

6:00 a.m. - After taking roads 1132, 1135, and 1132 again, we arrive and prepare.

6:35 a.m. - A Korean Coast Guard officer appears and checks us out. Sung-mi has a video camera and has no problems with filming and getting all up in his grill.

6:38 a.m. - I find out my digital camera is non-functional today.

6:45 a.m. - We are off in the water. Sung-mi is riding in the front, operating a video camera, and cell phone, plus has a digital camera ready. I am paddling in the back.

6:46 a.m. - Sherrin jumps in off the harbor's concrete stairs.

6:47 a.m. - Coast Guard officer takes pictures of Sherrin swimming.

7:15 a.m. - Sung-mi tells me she is really sick and asks me if I can land her on some rocks over yonder. I tell her it's not possible, but I will keep a lookout for a landing spot. I tell her to have a plastic bag ready.

7:45 a.m. - Sung-mi starts eating a nectarine or peach.

7:48 a.m. - Sung-mi announces she is not dizzy anymore because it was the hunger causing her head to spin.

7:55 a.m. - The once empty plastic bag becomes heavy.

8:00 a.m. - The plastic bag and its contents enters the sea.

8:10 a.m. - A concrete dock, jutting out from shore appears, and Sherrin and I safely land Sung-mi.

9:27 a.m. - Sherrin and I arrive at Sindo Harbor, about 8 kilometers from our starting point, in 2 hours and 45 minutes, pacing at almost 3 kilometers per hour. From Dongil-ri, along the way we passed Ilgwa-ri, Yeongnak-ri, Mureung 1-ri, and Sindo 1-ri.

9:28 a.m. - Cell phone, Incoming, 17 seconds, Eugene.

9:39 a.m. - Cell phone, Outgoing, 10 seconds, Sung-mi.

9:39 a.m. - Cell phone, Outgoing, 16 seconds, Sung-mi.

9:40 a.m. - Cell phone, Outgoing, 1 minute, 16 seconds, Sung-mi.

9:45 a.m. - Eugene arrives at the harbor, helps us figure out what is going on, and takes us to this fish farm: Auskor Aquaculture System [Please read guest blog by Eugene, above entry], run by Kim Yong-cheol.

10:00 a.m. - We arrive.

10:15 a.m. - Sung-mi comes with a friend and she starts filming and taking pictures of the fish farm tour.

10:30 a.m. - Sherrin and I both eat a raw shrimp; I elect to eat the skin, as well.

10:51 a.m. - Cell phone, anonymous text.

11:00 a.m. - Eugene takes me from the fish farm to Jungmun Beach, where my scooter is, sans any key.

11:07 a.m. - Cell phone, Outgoing, 45 seconds, Mr. Lee (Bike Shop).

11:25 a.m. - Eugene lets me loose in the Jungmun Beach parking lot.

11:27 a.m. - Cell phone, Incoming, 55 seconds, Mr. Lee (Bike Shop). The locksmith is apparently looking for me. I tell him he can't miss a profusely sweating foreigner who is covered from head to toe.

11:30 a.m. - Locksmith arrives, looks at my scooter, gets his tools out, and starts working.

11:35 a.m. - Locksmith tells me wait a minute, he needs to go back to his shop and get his other tools.

11:36 a.m. - Start baking in the sun, and then in the shade.

11:45 a.m. - Cell phone, Incoming, 29 seconds, Mr. Lee (Bike Shop). I receive the price for the locksmith making another scooter key.

12:15 p.m. - Locksmith finishes with the key, after moving the bike into the shade. He tells me I need to follow him back to his shop.

12:38 p.m. - Leave locksmith shop with two new scooter keys and four additional pension keys. En route to Sindo Harbor.

1:15 p.m. - Arrive at Sindo Harbor, find Sherrin sleeping under a gazebo, resting for our 3:30 p.m., departure time riding the next tide.

1:45 p.m. - Like a scavenger, start feeding on whatever is in the food cooler.

1:55 p.m. - Sherrin bloodies her knee after slipping and falling while we get the kayak in the water and around to some rocks due to low tide.

2:00 p.m. - Scout the coastline, with the scooter, the next 4 or 5 kilometers we are going to cover in the afternoon session.

2:10 p.m. - Cell phone, Missed call, I have no idea whose number it is.

2:47 p.m. - Cell phone, Missed call, Eugene.

2:52 p.m. - Arrive back at the gazebo at Sindo.

3:00 p.m. - Sung-mi and her friend meet us, as does Kim Yong-cheol from the fish farm.

3:08 p.m. - Topic of discussion: Sociology.

3:30 p.m. - Mr. Kim helps in launching the sea kayak. Sherrin and I are off to Chagwido.
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5:31 p.m. - Cell phone, Missed Call, Young-lim.

5:43 p.m. - Cell phone, Missed Call, Young-lim.

5:45 p.m. - We enter the harbor at Chagwido, immediately east of Wado, or Wa Island, having passed the incredible stratified scenery of Suwolbong.


5:49 p.m. - Cell phone, Outgoing, 41 seconds, Young-lim. She was at the harbor 1 kilometer north waiting and filming the scenery.

6:00 p.m. - Young-lim makes a LOUD entrance.

6:10 p.m. - With everything loaded, Sung-mi and her friend drive Sherrin back to her car at the harbor closest to Seorim Suwonji; Young-lim drives me back to my scooter at Sindo Harbor.

6:31 p.m. - Cell phone, Outgoing, 31 seconds, Sherrin. At Sindo Harbor, about to hop on the scooter, Sherrin says her party is lost. I ride back to Sherrin's car to pick up my camera; Sherrin rings up Young-lim who is heading to Jeju-si, but who then makes a U-turn to retrieve Sherrin and they caravan back to Samyang.

6:41 p.m. - Cell phone, Missed call, Sherrin.

7:45 p.m. - Arrive at Mr. Lee's Bike Shop near Seosara in Jeju-si for an oil change after bombing straight through 1132.

8:15 p.m. - Arrive at my pension.

8:40 p.m.- At Sherrin's place (not me), Young-lim inspects the rooftop view.

8:44 p.m. - Cell phone, Outgoing, 42 seconds, Sherrin.

8:51 p.m. - Cell phone, Incoming, 8 seconds, Sherrin.

9:00 p.m. - Arrive at a samgyeopsal restaurant in Samyang next to the bus stop. Have dinner with Sherrin, Young-lim, and Suzie (not sure how to spell your name), who proclaims "I'm just the dog walker," while Sherrin is active in The Jeju Big Swim and Tracie is relieved of her duties.

10:15 p.m. - Finish off a bottle of soju and two bottles of beer, mixed. Officially, the second time I have drank during the project.

10:25 p.m. - In pure Korean fashion, Young-lim, after much anticipated build-up, asks Suzie if she is single. Here we are, just four single people eating dinner together.

10:32 p.m. - In pure Jejudo, Korean style (everyone knows each other, connections are SO important!), we receive "service" of raw hanchi because the restaurant owner's daughter previously took a French class from Young-lim at Jeju National University.

10:34 p.m. - And for the last morsel of Korean cultural sameness, the daughter is distracted picking apart our bill, so I can pay for my booze separately, while watching a Korean drama.

10:35 p.m. - Young-lim's mouth takes care of the problem.

10:39 p.m. - Depart the restaurant, dreading the next morning's first day of school.

11:00 p.m. - Sleep.

-Steve

Monday, August 23, 2010

UPDATE ...

We have the kayak up and out of the water, locked around some concrete poles in Chagwido Harbor.

After finishing (at least) 12 kilometers today, it will take some time to sort out everything that happened, and write about it.

-Steve

Sunday, August 22, 2010

DAY 23 REST

Sunday, August 22, 2010.

Rest day.

We will get in the water at 6 a.m., on Monday morning and continue north.

-Steve

Saturday, August 21, 2010

DAY 22 COMPLETE

Saturday, August 21, 2010: Day 22 for The Jeju Big Swim.

We left Pacific Rim Park at 1:15 p.m., and arrived at the harbor next to Seorim Suwonji at 5:15 p.m. Covering 8 kilometers in 4 hours, pacing was at 2 kmph.

Currently, we are, unfortunately, dealing with internal squabbles and are unsure of when we will resume, if at all.

-Steve

Friday, August 20, 2010

DAY 21 NOTEBOOK

With enough energy to spare, I offer this:

Hwasun Beach. Perhaps my favorite beach in all of Jeju. Despite the shortcomings (electrical power plant to the east and dirty Olle Trail No. 10 winding its way through), the new water park for the tykes, the naturally cold lazy river running through, massive sandy area, and environmental landscape offer something different.

Camping on Hwasun. On arrival to Hwasun, the marine police came out on a boat and asked us each what were our names, just to be sure. As if they were about to confuse us with the other two foreigners swimming and kayaking around Jeju. At first, I was hesitant to tell them I was camping, feeling naked as a jay bird; they had no worries. They had no worries; I had no worries. I chose my spot next in front of the metal reinforced (if the North Koreans were to invade) box stealthily camouflaged.
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Departing Hwasun. Early in the morning, a polite, young Coast Guard gentleman came out and asked me for some information for his log book. English speaking, better yet, English phone conversation skills, were a plus. He was joined by two other members before we got in the water. They all wished us luck and shook our hands.

I can only imagine what ... The crew inside the marine police or Coast Guard vessels are thinking when they watch us. My kayak was all over the place today, bouncing, turning in any direction it wanted. The wind was out whipping in all directions. They must get tense, when in choppy waters, Sherrin and I are obviously talking to each other, and not swimming and kayaking.

I'll make an open bet. No one else is ever going to swim around Jeju. Maybe the same goes for sea kayaking around the island. If someone does attempt to, the government will somehow put a stop to it, citing safety concerns and the extra use of government manpower.

Pacific Rim Park arrival. Here is what the sand looks like we landed on. No words needed.


Camping at the new jewel. Pictures below. The kind women at the Sangmo haenyeo pad allowed us to store most of our gear overnight.
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Best laugh of the day. Walking the streets of Moseulpo, to find supplies, Sherrin and I witnessed a little boy, maybe three years old, with his pants pulled down, going tinkle on a tree in the sidewalk, on the main street, while his parents watched and there were tens of people around. One of my co-teachers said to me a while back: "Steve, we Koreans are marvelous people." INDEED!

What is Korea's national sport? True, it is taekwondo (or perhaps Starcraft). However, I would say smoking is a close second. I am sitting here at a PC bang, while this Korean young man is powering through cancer stick after cancer stick. If I could speak Korean, I would tell him to forget about inhaling, rip off the filter and start chewing. Go for it fella! The computer baseball game you are spending hours on can't be that stressful.

R.I.P. sunglasses. Upon yesterday's awful shallow-water landing and capsizing, my sunnies never surfaced. I now am sporting a 7,000-won pair of ocular gems from a local mart. My last pair were 1970s Ray-Ban from good friend and Virginia neighbor Pete, who received them from his dad, a certified pilot. For synchronicity's sake, I found out this same day, Pete moved down to Florida to care for his ailing dad.

-Steve

DAY 21 SUCCESS

I screamed like a young, high-maintenance woman who had seen her first cockroach.

It was that bad.

Luckily, I was in sight of settled seas, and we had just passed the worst part in all of Jeju island's waters.

We marked off another 9 kilometers from Hwasun Beach to Pacific Rim Park in Sangmo-ri PAST Songaksan for The Jeju Big Swim's DAY 21 taking place Friday, August 20, 2010.

This took everything out of Sherrin, and I thought my energy usage was at least at 90 percent of full capacity coming around and finally passing the devil's bend.

Out of the west side of Hwasun Beach with magnificent Sanbangsan at our backs, we ominously went by Hamel's exhibition marking the spot the poor foreigner lad shipwrecked, (and not surprising there may still be many similarities to the reactions of foreigners on the island now as there were when he landed in 1653), the tame but awe-inspiring Yeongmori Coast, the difficult shallow options encountered by the brothers' island of Hyeongjeseom, and the treacherous Devil's creation of Songaksan.


Apparently, Koreans celebrate Songaksan because of the "famous" on site filmings for MBC's Daejanggeum and SBS' All In. Fuck that. I will habitually have nightmares from this day forward.

After finally passing that beast, with no wave rhythms, I thought I was in the clear drooling over the calm waters a few meters away. To my left, unannounced, whitewater nailed me on the left side. No warning. My vocal chords hit an extreme high note. Altissimo. Clothes sopping wet. Still balanced.

Sherrin powered her way through the inferno. Every person for herself and himself.

Frazzled. We landed at the Pacific Rim Park in Sangmo-ri.

Tomorrow is another day.

-Steve

Thursday, August 19, 2010

DAY 20 NOTEBOOK

Here are my thoughts and a few leftovers for Day 20:

Police. We are using a lot of government resources here with this project. My first line of reasoning, is they have it in their best interest as a diplomatic issue. If something happens to an Australian swimmer or American kayaker in Jeju waters, someone's head is going to roll. We're more than happy to accept all contact with police and Coast Guard. On the other hand, as people have told us, it is also possibly exciting for these workers to be dealing with something new and fresh, rather than the mundane daily duties they are performing. Put bluntly, they could be bored out of their minds. Or, perhaps, a balance of the two ideas.
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What's getting rusty? Twenty days have passed. Our first victim was our safely cooler's zippers. They popped open. On our rest day, I sauntered over to the Samyang Family Mart and the manager, Kang Young-jin, kindly, for the fourth time, offered another esky to replace the one which succumbed to the elements. And, the bike lock we secure the kayak up at night with around a post or sign, is severely decaying. We have added a can of generic WD-40 on board to try to fix the rusty zippers and protection lock.

Thorn in my pride. True, pride comes before the fall. Yet, better to capsize the first (knock on wood, the ONLY) time in two feet of water, a meter offshore than in DEEP waters. I was a bit rattled. I would also like to point out, unlike the picture displayed, although the exact landing point and taken five minutes after, the whitewater was a little larger.


Psilocybin effect. Heat will make you think about, and physically the brain may do, anything, including hallucinate. Two days past our scorching 9-hour day in the sun, I am grateful heat stroke did not set in over either of us. On Tuesday, Sherrin was feeling woozy, to say the least, and numerous times told me, she may pass out, or fall asleep. She cleared a medical check Wednesday. Out of all the events we have gone through in the last 20 days, only passing Seopjikoji (physical), and surviving that heat day (mental), has my mind wandered into pure adrenaline grief mode. Many people ask me what I think about. Many things, I reply.

Water loss and physical strength. This is not to say what I went through, but what Sherrin - who is 20 years older than I, and exerting A LOT more energy than I am day in and day out - must be going through. On Tuesday, I drank a 1.5-liter bottle of water in the morning at the dive shop, on board during 9 hours, I drank 3 additional 1.5 liters of water, at dinner about another 1 liter, and when I got home late Tuesday night, I downed 3, 1.5-liter lemon Gatorade bottles. In total, that's 11.5 liters of fluids in about 14 hours. And my color test after taking a shower at the beach signaled dehydration. After 8 hours of sleep, I walked to the local grocery store Wednesday morning and soon took down 2, 1.5 liters of Pocari Sweat.

Camera housing. I now have been using - thanks to Ji-su who lent me the device, and who survived 6.5 hours of surgery Wednesday - a watertight housing that fits around my digital camera. Although some pictures have the black plastic ring in a corner or two, I am expecting the camera to continue producing decent shots and to make it through the project.

Change in numbers. Take a look at the information on the right. I originally predicted, it would take us 211 kilometers, to make it around Jeju. I had been using 200 for awhile to make it a nice, round, easy figure. I have it now back to 210. The official kilometers completed are from accurate maps made after each swim using Google Earth. What is remaining equals 210. I have been told numerous times, by a few people it is 300 or 350 kilometers, or one media outlet said 253 or 256. Dudes, that's coastline, not swimming distance! I may not be great at a lot of things, but my last known taxable job in the U.S., was a certified geography teacher in secondary education. I know how to measure a map. The perfect swim or kayak route is 187 kilometers around Jeju. We oftentimes are hugging the shoreline, which is increasing our overall distance.

Jari mulhwae. Thursday night, I polished off two bowls of cold, raw fish soup in front of Sherrin and Young-lim. Sherrin thought about seconds for galbitang (translated loosely as Korean short rib soup). If so, I would have upped the ante and thought about thirds for another serving. I was also eyeing Young-lim's unfinished kimchi jjigae.

Men on the docks. I forgot to mention the man at the Seogwipo Harbor who asked us if we were swimming and kayaking around Jeju for "a tour." Bro, I can tour around Jeju in about 5 to 7 hours using a scooter and accessing the coast roads. Quite possibly, the same man or a few fellows who donated collectively 30,000 won in bills after we spoke about our environmental message.

Where am I? Along with routinely asking the questions: Who am I? and What I am doing? and What is my purpose? I am happy to announce I am in a PC bang in tattered Hwasun, ready to walk over to my tent set up against a rock wall, very close to the water and an Olle course 10 trail marker.

Sleep. Sung-mi: It's OK to sleep. Truly, it's good for your health. If you don't sleep, long-term memory is affected.

-Steve