Yesterday proved itself to be warmer and sunnier than the weather forecast predicted and so it was decided that a short trip to the beach town of Boryeong should be taken. It was all rainbows and sparkles when we caught the 4 o’clock bus out of Cheonan. Little did we know that we had managed to take the indirect bus that would stop every 15 minutes or so at various towns and intersections to deposit and pick up wobbling grannies and teen soccer champs. What should have been an hour and a half trip on the highway turned into two and half long hours that wound their way through factory towns, hanok villages, and beige farm lands.
Much to our disappointment, the sun was setting when we finally arrived in Boryeong. Trying to think ahead, we tried to purchase return bus tickets but were told that the last bus out of Boryeong was at 7:15pm (it was 6:45 mind you). I was incredulous and growing insanely irritated. It seemed like a nice, warm Saturday was “wasted” on a bus that only arrived at its destination just before sunset and that no late-night transportation would be able to be secured. Oh, and it was getting cold again. We decided to walk to the train station that was a few blocks away to see if they had any trains running later in the evening. I was hungry and my mood was darkening at a rate that seemed to outpace the sun’s descent. We would never be able to see the beach at this point, I thought. Rawr! Why didn’t we just stay in Cheonan?! Bah! ME [H]ANGRY! Really I was just annoyed that I spent most of the day on a bus to see a beach town that I might not even be able to see. But really, more than anything, I was probably just hungry.
Fortunately, we managed to purchase a couple of tickets back to Cheonan on the 9:35pm Mugungawha train to Yongsan. This, oddly enough, did *not* help to improve the mood. I think we were both thinking we should have just taken the train into Boryeong to begin with… it would have cost half of the price and taken half of the time. RAWR! We hopped into a taxi and immediately I notice that the fare was high– too high. …And it kept rising.
“Oh my god. Look at the meter.”
“We’re being ripped off. Jesus.”
“Yeah, it does look kind of high… at least we’re almost to the beach.”
“I can’t believe he’s ripping us off!!! Seriously!? ARGH!”
￦9,560 later, we were at the beach and while it was still a bit light out, I couldn’t quite shake my irritation– probably out of an unreasonable sense of pride. (Beach. Is. Pretty. But. Must. Maintain. Anger.)
It was actually pretty cold near the water and since we hadn’t dressed appropriately for the drop in temperature, we made our way to the “boardwalk” to find something to eat/make me a nice(r) person. Ever like a magpie, I was taken in by all of the lights and neon and began to feel the smallest bit better.
While most of the restaurants specialized in the same fare– fish, baby octopus, mollusks, sea squirt– I decided on one that didn’t use plastic seats and appeared relatively friendly. We picked some fun things for dinner: “live” octopus (산낙지), a white stew, and beer.
Yes, yes, I know, not vegetarian. I’ve eaten “live” octopus once before with my boss to experience a different side of Korean food. But how can you come to Korea and not try one of its most famous dishes?! Anyway, yesterday was an experiment in opening up my restricted diet by introducing some seafood into the mix. Uncooked octopus doesn’t have much flavor and texturally it is reminiscent of a chewy piece of seitan– not a hard thing to swallow as far as meat goes (unless one of the suckers stick to your teeth or throat!). But when the stew came around, I could only manage to eat the noodles and some of the broth. I did try a piece of shrimp, but ultimately I didn’t want to finish it. I ordered a bowl of rice and the waitress brought out some nuts and beans for me. I don’t think I’ll re-visit meat-eating any time soon, except perhaps as a means to experience something “exotic” and “Korean” (sea cucumber! penis fish! sea squirt! dog! flatfish!).
The dinner and beers (and store-bought ice cream cones) helped improve my mood significantly. As did learning that *perhaps* we hadn’t been ripped off by the first taxi driver… (but I still think that every taxi driver in Boryeong has a rip off button on their meter… reserved just for me)