Two Weekends in Namhae (pt. 1)

When my co-worker showed me a trip in February that promised beaches and snorkeling and kayaking in the far off and therefore warmer month of May, I was fully on board. I’d already been to Namhae for Oktoberfest but had only seen the bus station and the German village. It would be great to see another side of this small island. We excitedly discussed this trip with our boss who warned that the weather might not be very warm the first weekend of May, but we brushed that off. We were going to swim in Namhae no matter the weather.

As the trip approached and our weekends filled, our boss told us she wanted to take us on an MT. MT stands for membership training which, according to our office, just means travelling somewhere together and getting drunk. The only weekend that was semi-open for us to do this trip was the weekend after we got back from Namhae. I would have to skip Frisbee for this but I was okay with that for the chance to travel somewhere new and to bond with my coworkers and boss.

Two weeks after we had decided on the date, our boss came back to us with the location. We were going to Namhae. Again. Two weekends in a row. I don’t want to sound ungrateful because it is really fantastic that our boss would take us on this trip and provide us transportation and a place to stay, but when she told us about the location she presented it as such: “You aren’t going to be happy about this but we are going to Namhae.” If she knew that it wouldn’t be our first choice in destination, I’m not too sure why she picked Namhae out of all of the options we were discussing. In any case, it was still really nice that she was going to take us anywhere at all.

Time flies here and the next thing I knew our swimsuits were packed and my coworker and I were hopping on the bus for Namhae. The tour group we had signed up with had a 4am pick up at the bus station in Namhae so our plan was to get the last bus at 8 pm, find a love motel or jimjilbang to sleep in for a few hours, and then head back to the bus station for pick up. We arrived at the bus station at 9:30 and set out looking for a place to sleep.

Two hours of trudging through the rain later, we came to the conclusion that every single place was full. I didn’t know that was even possible at a jimjilbang but all the ones we found had their lights off and doors locked. We finally decided to try and sleep in a PC room which is an experience for another post. Let’s just say we got about 40 minutes of sleep between us before we went back to the bus station to catch the tour bus.

We opted to skip the morning hike in the rain in favor of catching a few hours of sleep on the bus. After which the only other plans for the day were eating and fishing and eating and sleeping. All of these activities were completely doable on only a few hours of sleep.

Fishing was a lot of fun. It was raining but that almost made it feel more authentic. We were on a boat with an old Korean fisherman who seemed to get a kick out of our excitement when we would catch a fish. The fisherman gave each of us a length of fishing line with a hook and weight tied to the end that we would toss over board and bob up and down. If we thought we caught a fish we would pull the line up hand over fist and proudly display our tiny catch to the rest of the people on board. A couple of times someone would start pulling in something heavy and we would run over to assist but with the rain and the lack of grip the big ones always seemed to get away.

Image may contain: sky, ocean, mountain, outdoor, water and nature
The fishing boat we were on.

After fishing we went to eat Korean BBQ and had sashimi of the fish we caught. Then it was back to the guest house to catch up on the sleep we had missed out on the night before.

The next morning the sun was shining and we were kayaking. My friend and I did a two person kayak which we got the hang of eventually after a little sniping back and forth. Then there was snorkeling which I decided against since the water was too cold. Once we got back to the pier we went ‘cliff diving’ which was literally just jumping off the pier. Though I had decided before the water was too cold for snorkeling, I jumped in anyway. As I hit the water I confirmed my earlier hypothesis about the water temperature. It was like jumping into an ice bath. Somehow, though, I found it refreshing. I jumped in again.

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Following the pier jumping the group moved on to a pebble beach for some swimming, sunbathing and actual cliff jumping.

That night we stayed in a traditional village where the lady who owned the room we were staying in was supposed to come over and have dinner with us. With this in mind we scoped out the ladies and picked the one who looked like she knew how to cook. She walked us down to our room, showed us around and disappeared. We waited eagerly for her to return and when the knock came we rushed with excitement to answer it. Instead of an older lady bearing food it was our trip coordinator bearing the news that our house mom was not a cook and that we would be eating in a restaurant instead. That’s what we get for being so calculating in our house mom selection process. Looks can be deceiving.

We finished up dinner at the restaurant and then headed to an abandoned school where we were meant to play traditional games with the villagers. None of the villagers showed up so we played amongst ourselves. One of the games involved two teams running in a circle, one from the inside and one from spiralthe outside, and playing rock paper scissors when they would meet. The winner could keep running, the loser had to get back in line. The goal was to get as many people into the other team’s space as possible but I don’t think we played it right. We just kept running in circles with very few people making it to the other side. The other game involved throwing small blocks of wood at your opponents small block of wood in an attempt to knock it over. Both games were fun and it was interesting to see the different types of games that Korean people traditionally played.

Overall this was a great trip. Though it got off to a slightly rocky start with the rain and lack of sleep, it turned out to be a lot of fun. We set off the next morning for home, wondering what the next weekend had in store.

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