Saturday, August 17, 2013

남열해수욕장 문닫아요

Even the beaches will shut down at the appointed hour.

© Mark Eaton

This past May I wrote an article on this blog here about the new construction that was changing Namyeol Beach...남열해수욕장.  The dredging and the shore build up has all but eliminated the large wave action close to shore; however, the swimming experience remains excellent.  

Recently, I was able to travel to the beach twice in a single week, and there is another trip planned for tomorrow.  I would love to live on or near a beach...perhaps in the near future.  Back to the point of swimming -- being a mere 15 to 20 meters off shore means a genuine ocean swim begins.  

This past Thursday was a national holiday in South Korea, and I was actually invited to go to the beach.  After setting up camp on one of the rental platforms atop the beach in a small forested area, I entered the water.  Even though I was within the designated swimming boundaries, I saw that I was beyond the lookout point where many people gather to watch the rocket launches from nearby Naro Space Center.

Because I do wear my broad rimmed hat when I swim, like so many Korean citizens do, I'm sure the young Coast Guard rescuer, who was also wearing a broad rimmed hat, couldn't see my face.  He swam near me, unbeknownst to me since I wasn't looking shoreward, and he blew his whistle as he rested on his red rescue float.  Even though I was in the swimming area he was in the act of waving me to shore, politely, but he stopped when I turned around and began speaking in Korean to him.  So, as we casually swam away from the beach, and as we tread water, we chatted about the weather, family, language skills.  We were both passable speaking to the subject of our foreign language skills.

The Coast Guard rescuer was keeping a watchful eye, because he was the only one on station until a second young man arrived a few hours later.  After our watery chat, he swam to his rescue jet ski, which was the number 3 unit from 여수, and he let me be.  With the exception of a Korean man swimming parallel to the shore, I was the only person swimming without a vest or using some sort of floatation device.  I like swimming in the ocean; watching the swells hide the horizon, feeling the alternating warm and cool currents below the surface.  Being in the water brings peace to me.

Then at 6 p.m. it's closing time.  

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