21 August 2005

day 2--filleting squid and enjoying natural A/C

jeo-dong harbour: far bigger and perhaps more arresting than do-dong harbour.

the next day began with a search-and-rescue operation, which was eventually successful. no more need be said about that.

thus, with one successful venture completed, we (penny, seung-hee, chris, and i) headed a 7-minute cab ride northward to the other of ulleung island's two harbours, jeo-dong. as the photo above might detail against the memory of the do-dong harbour, this harbour is much larger (at least ten times as wide) and much more beautiful, in my opinion, because of the attractiveness of the hills and green slopes directly behind the village. do-dong is much narrower and immediately steeper in its rise from the harbour waters--and more commercialized since it's the first place a tourist sees when he or she disembarks from the ferry.

jeo-dong is much more pleasant because it has a more genuine feel of being a step back in time to what a korean island harbour would always have been like. the smell of the sea, the incredible beauty both from the land out into the surrounding sea and from the harbourwalk back to the rising land, the sight of countless squid boats, small restaurants serving quaint and damned delicious meals the way they ought to be (that is, not bastardized to accommodate the disingenuous and oft-times unadventurous tourist palate), small shops selling korean artifacts (not imports disguised as local products), and the ubiquitous rooms in which to drink but without their having been westernized in order to impress people. just simple and korean, just how it should be.

a distant islet in the ascendant morning mist

seung-hee and i engaged in the squid-filleting competition.

one of the main reasons for heading to jeo-dong was to witness--and perhaps take part in--some of the festivities surrounding the "2005 Ulleung Island Squid Festival". as luck would have it, we stumbled upon ulleung island during an annual celebration of the marine animal so ubiquitary--and thus so important--to ulleung's culture and livelihood.

on this particular morning, there was the squid-filleting competition, into which the missus and i entered. we couldn't get chris or penny to engage in what turned out for us novices to be an exercise in mutilating the poor mollusks, but they were there to spread the word with cameras. the auspices of the competition were these: fillet as quickly as you could 20 unsuspecting squid. sounds simple, doesn't it? well, even after a dozen examples of how to do it, as demonstrated by amused locals, it still wasn't clear to me how to endeavour how cleanly to do it without severing the squid's eyes, any of its dangling legs, or one of my vestigial appendages. as i told chris, "as long as i don't finish last or cut any of my fingers, i'll consider this a success."

well, i managed not to be last nor to walk away without all ten of my fingers, but i can't say that there aren't people somewhere in korea who aren't today munching on dried squid wondering why it might only have one--or perhaps even no--eye staring up at them from their plate. my wife didn't start off well, though i did, but she was getting coaching from no fewer than three pros while i was left languishing in front of countless cameras and video cameras aiming at the foreigner in astonishment at even his mere attempt at doing this.

when my wife had finished her 20 (unfortunately, she didn't win, show,) or place i'd only managed to have mangled 15, so a couple of old crusty pros helped me out with the remaining five (in the time it took me to do my one, they each had done their two, smoked a pack of cigarettes each, gone for lunch, had a quick nap, gone for a relaxing swim, phoned their children, and had got in a quickie with two of the local call girls at a nearby 'room salon'). however, i was not last, as at least two other people (out of, say, 20) needed help with their more-than-five remaining squid.

the squid in better times before being split open and rendered flat

alluring wife amidst arresting scenery

the omnipresent squid boats

ahh, chris enjoying the virtues of the "cave of the wind"


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