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.


Saturday, August 28, 2010


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.


Friday, August 27, 2010


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?

Thursday, August 26, 2010


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.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Wednesday, August 25, 2010.


Preparing for a long, successful weekend.



Tuesday, August 24, 2010.


Preparing for a long, successful weekend.



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.


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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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.

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


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.

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.


Monday, August 23, 2010


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.


Sunday, August 22, 2010


Sunday, August 22, 2010.

Rest day.

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


Saturday, August 21, 2010


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.


Friday, August 20, 2010


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.

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.

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.



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.


Thursday, August 19, 2010


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.

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.



The dream day. More than 3 kilometers per hour.

Three hours covered in 10 kilometers with just a minor glitch at the end.

We finally left out of Jungmun Beach at 1 p.m. I was about 40 minutes late, and once we got the kayak through the whitewater lapping the shore and me up and safely in after I was standing deeper than usual with water up to my chest, it took Sherrin a long time to settle and stretch in the water. In addition, she took off her full haenyeo wetsuit in the water, as underneath she had her stinger suit on.

Off and moving, we passed magnificent cliffs with Sanbangsan always in the backdrop. The only thing marring the entire landscape is the electrical power plant sandwiched in between, and the nasty discharge polluting the waters.

If not for the power plant, or better yet, before the power plant and the Hwasun port wall were built, I would have ranked this as the best natural landscape around Jeju, hands down.

This was Day 20 for the Jeju Big Swim: Thursday, August 19, 2010.

Not much more to write about. After passing the Hwasun port wall, I got Sherrin to land straight on a far west beach marking our exit point at 4 p.m., and tomorrow's entry point, instead of turning east and wasting 1.5 kilometers of energy to land at Hwasun Beach. And, tomorrow wasting another 1.5 kilometers in the morning. She walked most of the way into the beach and swam around some rocks as I paddled.

When we were about to land on the far west stretch of rock and sand, the boys in blue in their BIG ship came in real close and asked where were we going to land. I pointed and they figured in and around.

The only problem was I made a poor landing decision. I quickly went in, unfortunately got the kayak turned parallel with the whitewater and it dumped me in about two feet of water and capsized the kayak and all the gear. Luckily, it took us a minute to regroup, flip over the kayak, throw everything in again, and drag the kayak up and over the smooth rock to dry land.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Wednesday, August 18, 2010.

Sleep. More sleep. A lot more sleep.

Up late updating the blog and e-mails and pictures and maps.


The Hyatt's donated suite for one night

It all started about 2 kilometers after swimming out of Seogwipo Harbor. Sherrin popped her head out of the water, and asked if she could get two donated rooms at the Hyatt, would that work? Considering we had about 13 kilometers to go and maybe 7.5 hours left in the water, I told her not to worry about that, at that time.

At lunch, she phoned Sung-mi, and put in her requests.

After landing at Jungmun, the solid plan was to first go to dinner with the JIBS producer, who was taking us out, and then get Sherrin to a minbak, and I was going to sleep in Eugene's hagwon.

There was also a reporter and a photographer for JDC in this mix as well, wanting pictures and an interview.

On the beach, in only Sherrin's most-persuasive-yet-somewhat-abrasive-if-not-subtly-hostile manner rang up the manager of the Hyatt and asked for two rooms, for two nights. They said they would call her back. Sherrin said it was worth a shot. She picked the Hyatt, only because they are known for having green, or environmentally friendly business practices.

A few minutes later, the deal was sealed for one room for one night. We cleaned up at the beach, went to dinner and all six of us headed for the Hyatt.

Sherrin was still in half of her haenyeo wetsuit, carried two paddles to the front desk, and they gave her the key card to an 11th-floor suite.
As we all entered, Sherrin was hitting the paddles on every conceivable part of the lobby - doors, elevator, and furniture.
I told her to be careful, watch the paddles, to which Sung-mi told me I was acting like her father.
No truer words have been spoken.
[Message to Caley, who I know is reading, 'tis not true? How many times in the last 10 years did I hear from you after I said something, "Thanks, dad."]

All six of us went up and this is what we found:

Eugene came up and soon after whisked me away to Wimi Harbor to fetch my scooter and off I went back to Samyang to sleep the night away.

A Seogwipo entourage appeared. In due reciprocation, the night before Ralf, Ok-sun and daughter Hannah took care of us, Sherrin entertained them in the suite the following night.

Young-lim made an entrance at 1 a.m., and even though I was not there, I assume it was very loud from this point forward.

Thanks to the Hyatt for providing The Jeju Big Swim a night of relaxation, or perhaps chaos.



The man in the shadows. Who is he? He's Kenny Kim, aka Kim Young-jin. Jeju Big Swim team member and responsible for the Korean blog:

Kenny has been fielding media requests for us and balancing work, for JDC as a manager for the Jeju Airport Duty Free Shop, and family as well. The best part about Kenny is he volunteered for the project, and he is a regular contributor to rhymeswithjeju, a foreigner's internet portal. He has the foreigner's community at heart.

Comment posted on the Korean blog. (Edited) From J.W. Kim: Hi Sherrin! Because of the typhoon, I worried about you. Many people are talking about you and your purpose. It means your purpose is already successful. I congratulate you! I hope you finish The Big Swim safely and successfully. Take care.

Where did you sleep last night? A popular traditional American folk song popularized by Nirvana, "My girl, my girl, don't lie to me, Tell me where did you sleep last night?" I'm not sure where "my girl" is or where she slept, but I happened to sleep here in The Big Blue 33 dive shop after arriving in Seogwipo Harbor.

Media cannibalism. Alive and well throughout this project. I am a part of this. I first heard this idea at The Jeju Weekly's one-year anniversary when former editor Tracie Barrett and Arirang Radio DJ Jenie Hahn explained that the English media on Jeju - since so small and everyone knows each other and talks about each other (and really just a microcosm of Jeju people and their media) - cannibalizes each other. One person interviews each other, who is interviewed by another and in the end everyone just interviews each other, figuratively eating each other alive.
Here is the perfect example. A JIBS producer (I'm not sure what the Konglish meaning of "PDnim" actually means) is interviewing team member Sung-mi, who in turn, throughout various parts of the day, was filming the producer film Sherrin and I. But, in the end, I am taking a picture of both of them and posting it on a blog. It is endless. Koreans, statistically, take more film and pictures than any other people, per capita, in the world.

Fake hugs. Ah, the Korean media! Sherrin and I fake hugged four times for the cameras Tuesday. Twice on the beach, and twice when I left the Hyatt on Tuesday night.

Why not reality? The best filming will come from Young-lim's and Sung-mi's cameras - since they spend the most time with us - not any other media. If Korean media were to actually be in the right places at the right times, they would have much better story lines and REALITY. I've written this before, but if they filmed me sleeping on Pyeongdae Beach instead of faking me setting up a tent on asphalt in the Maze Park, or filming Sherrin crying two times (once on Samyang Beach and once on Pyoseon Beach), or filming me vehemently swearing at Sherrin approaching Seongsan Ilchulbong, or us crash landing into whitewater at numerous locations (However, JIBS did luckily get the landing at Jungmun!), or filming the entire sloppy-fueled-by-wine conversation between Sung-mi and Young-lim in the wee hours on the Hyatt suite balcony and having Sherrin come and tell them to hush up. THAT is reality. Not Sherrin and I fake hugging.

Another donation. This one is from Rains Calvin or is it Calvin Rains?, on August 17th. I just write what Ji-su e-mails for the donations. Thank you. Personally, I don't know you. Your name is for sure Western, though. We're curious how you know of us. If you get a chance, please tell us; if someone else knows, please tell us.

Jawbreakers. A popular candy in the Western world, also known as Gobstoppers. Team member Ji-su is actually having her jaw broken during surgery, which takes place Thursday. All team members wish her the best of luck and she will not be able to talk, according to her, for two weeks.

Garbage update. The metal bucket floating in the water a few days ago, reminded me of a dairy farm. Did a cow kick this to sea? Probably not a dairy cow on the island. This could be the one piece of garbage that truly originated from China. ... A lot of wood pieces. Big chunks. I've seen some with the nails sticking out and through. The bigger harbors we have recently passed by - Namwon, Wimi, Seogwipo, - are filthy. Shit floating everywhere.

How clean are Jeju's waters? I've had extreme experiences with water. I grew up close to the Milwaukee River. Everyone knows to eat a fish out of that river is simply not safe due to the high toxicity levels, and this was true when I was born 31 years ago. Fast forward to today. I can and do drink the water to this day out of the Pocosin and Conway Rivers which flow close by my mountain cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Are Jeju sea waters clean? Overall no. Relative to China? Yes. Would I tell a prospective international traveler to visit Jeju or someplace in the Caribbean based on the water quality? The Caribbean, without a doubt. For example, the waters around Puerto Rico's smaller eastern islands, Vieques and Culebra, are much more scintillating than Jeju's. And Puerto Rico is one of the most densely populated islands in the world with 4 million people. And, they properly clean their beaches, year round.

But, Jeju's waters should be the cleanest, and their many diverse beaches should also be the cleanest, if properly cared for.

Don't believe the nonsense Jeju government reports that say the water is "clean" to attract tourists. While those same domestic tourists contribute more to their country's waste in the sea by never being taught to properly throw it away.

Get out there and see the sea for yourself. Don't believe what other people tell you. Do the research yourself.



Nine straight hours in grueling heat from Seogwipo Harbor to Jungmun Beach:

This was Day 18 of The Jeju Big Swim for Tuesday, August 17, 2010.

Having gone completely through Seogwipo Harbor and around Saeseom the previous day, we launched where we left off, under the bridge - Red Hot Chili Peppers style - at 8:45 a.m.

My internal worries bounce from day to day, but today's included Sherrin's health, and later on, my mind.

When we had everything loaded in the kayak and ready to go, she literally couldn't stand up and while sitting on a rock, refused to change positions for a camera media interview. In the water, and in a haenyeo wetsuit, she started and ever so slowly, we moved west.

Luckily for me, the sea was calm and Sherrin was swimming at a slow pace, so I was on cruise control the first leg, or "on tour" as a Korean may say, witnessing these sites from a distance on my right, The Shell Fossils of Seogwipo Formation, Oedolgae (location for MBC's famous Daejanggeum, which I happen to know nothing about), Dombaenanggol, Mangbat, Maluk, Beophwan Inlet, and the Jeju World Cup Stadium, and on my left Beomseom - before resting at Gangjeong Harbor, site of the controversial, yet, on hold construction-wise, military base.

Inside, the heat index was through the roof on the concrete slipway for lunch, and the heat did not subside throughout the day.

Out of the harbor, our halfway point, we decided we were going to make it to Jungmun Beach. Our tidesman, the night before, said definitely go outside of the reef lighthouse because of the shallow water. As the water was calm, I went straight through hopefully saving Sherrin some much needed time and energy. The kayak got hung up on some rocks at least three times in gentle whitewater, but we fought through and continued west.

Sightseeing, as best I could, while Sherrin earned every passing meter, we went by Weolpyeong Scenic Seashore, Yakcheonsa, Daepo Inlet, Jeju Jungmun Daepo Jusangjeollidae, and the ICC (the Jeju International Convention Center), trying to stay in sight of the whizzing Jeju Jet speedboats and rogue parasailing metal boats.

With the Coast Guard vessel in the distance and up close, two members tandemly on a waverunner, we were escorted into the beach.

Finally, at 5:45 p.m., with Chai Ba-da passionately preaching over the area's loudspeaker, telling the beachgoers about our project and random Koreans cheering, we landed through the crashing waves. Nine hours, 15 kilometers, pacing at more than 1.5 kmph.

Oh, but the day had just begun. And it was 6 p.m.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010


We made it - barely - into Jungmun Beach after 15 kilometers.

Wednesday is a rest day, and well deserved.

Sherrin and Company are living it up in Hyatt suite No. 1109, thanks to a donated (palace) room by the hotel.

I've been in a lot of really, really nice hotels. But this thing? WOW!

The blog will be updated after I sleep my fatigue away in Samyang.


Monday, August 16, 2010


So many thoughts, so little time. Here are a few of them:

Haenyeo wetsuit. Sherrin officially switched suits today. The water was getting icier the further south we went, and she begrudgingly -because it takes so long - slapped on her haenyeo wetsuit, before it tore. Here is Eugune and Sherrin piecing it together with black, rubber cement before getting in the water out of Wimi.

100 kilometers, 100 people. For every kilometer we pass, we equally have as many people to thank. And for the next 100 kilometers, I'm sure we will have another 100 people to thank. I don't know where to start, so might as well start from the man on top.

Eugene. He's simply known to me as Jeju's Jesus, and I'm not religious. I can't find a smarter man than Eugene. He continually proves it with his postings on rhymeswithjeju and he's got a solid heart, helping us numerous steps along the way. His best advice yet was to make my cell phone water sealed with the use of two condoms.

Woojong. Here's a message (edited) from a family we met at Seongsan and accompanying picture: "Hi, Steve. Thanks for the reply. Here's the picture. I think you are very tired and exhausted. I explained the aim of the project to my children. You made me think nature must be clean and it costs effort. When I was swimming and snorkeling in Kimnyeong Beach, I found an empty bottle in the sea so I took it out of the water, just to follow the meaning of the project. I believe people will change somehow, maybe it will take awhile. But, Cheer up! Woojong.

Liberated Jejudo women. They're hard to find. Anyone who really knows me, knows of the nonsense ultra-conservative encounters - three in particular - I've had in the past year. So, it is refreshing to work with three people that are apart of The Jeju Big Swim, who are both liberated and native daughters of this island. I'll give an individual shout out to each, starting with the oldest first. Why I write is because they are able to keep my sanity throughout this project.

Young-lim. Words can't describe Young-lim. They wouldn't do her justice. She's our Korean documentary filmmaker. She's traveled a lot. And, speaks of her own people, honestly. When I think of Young-lim, I think of the Mark Twain quote: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." Auntie Young-lim, if only you were 20 years younger ...

Sung-mi. She wants to make a movie about Young-lim. I agree. And, like the previous woman, has also traveled. Sung-mi also said, after a glass of wine and really very little sleep the past few nights, she would like to have 10 children. But, none of those children would be allowed access to Young-lim, since, as she put it, Auntie would be a bit too energetic, high-spirited, zesty, loud, and outspoken. Sung-mi is doing a million things for the project, also making a film and taking a lot of pictures. It's strange having all these different beautiful Korean women taking pictures of us during the project. This certainly wouldn't happen in the United States. I hate cameras.

Ji-su. The translator, who is about to have her jaw wired shut for possibly two weeks. Imagine cynical Ji-su not being able to talk for that long? She has become a de facto spokesperson for The Jeju Weekly, the island's one and only English newspaper. It should be illegal for a person so young to be armed with such biting sarcasm. A traveler, as well. She is dutifully keeping the Korean blog up-to-date and using urban dictionary as much as needed.

Who are all these media people? The interest is growing. We have no less than 5 persons or groups to meet with tomorrow morning at Seogwipo Bridge between 8 and 9 a.m. I'll be looking ripe, probably wearing one of two outfits I've been sporting the last 17 days.

Last thanks to Ralf and Ok-sun. I write this from Big Blue 33 Dive Shop in Seogwipo. I'm sleeping in their Dive Shop tonight, and ready for what the next day brings.