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.


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