Last year around this time we listened with great interest as Caitlyn and Hendrik, now sadly departed from Korea, told us about a festival they attended where, in company with Moses, they walked across the sea (read their account here). When we decided to stay in Korea for a second year the ‘Jindo Miracle Sea Festival’ was near the top of our bucket list. Last weekend was it.
We had decided to sign up for a Lonely Korea (Pedro) trip rather than trying to sort out transport, tickets, and timing for ourselves and we met the group at Usquare at 10:00 in the morning. Pedro had chartered two buses and we chatted with a few of our friends before loading up and heading out under cloudy skies. We were lucky that Chris, Will, and Tim were also heading out along with us for this trip. It’s always nice to have great company to travel with.
After a stop to pick-up more people in Mokpo, we arrived on Jindo a little after noon and headed to Ullimsanbang House, a garden and museum area, for our kimbap lunch. We wandered among the restored buildings and looked through the museum and art gallery (all explanations were in Korean). This area was the home and studio of a family of famous painters who passed their talent down through the generations since the 18th century and the gallery contained their works. The museum deals mostly with naval battles that were fought against the Japanese nearby.
Looking out over Ullimsanbang.
An hour was more than enough time for Ullimsanbang and we headed from there to the Jindo Dog Centre. Jindo dogs are really well known throughout Korea and you can see them, or at least mixed breeds of them, all over the place. First stop was a sort of museum/display area with what we assume were explanations about the different breeds. What we saw out the second story window led to us quickly abandoning this and bee-lining up the hill. Tubing! They have a year-round tubing slide made from plastic! We all took a round on the tubes and it was pretty darn entertaining.
Then came the dog show. It was pretty entertaining. Rather than have the dog just do the standard obstacles, the trainer put the dog through a bunch of different little tricks. These included: fetching a drink from the fridge, cleaning up the garbage, carrying a flower basket, raising the flag, displaying a banner about the centre, dance gangnam style, hop around with a bandage on its leg, and perch on the trainer’s shoulder. It was only about fifteen minutes long, which was just about right.
After playing dead, the dog came back to life ‘wounded’ after the bandage was tied on.
Raising the flag.
The dog actually sat there for 10-15 seconds before jumping down on command.
Festival time. We headed to the festival site and were immediately greeted by the usual sea of people that accompany all of these events in Korea. So happy we did not decide to sort out our own transport to this particular event. We bought hip-high rubber boots for 8,000₩ right near the gate and then headed deeper into the festival site. There were booths everywhere selling food, art, kites, and a ton of other stuff. We drifted into the International area and grabbed some delicious naan bread and curry from the India booth then capped it off with Turkish ice cream, kebab and a beer. Not a bad afternoon snack. Tickets come with a 5,000 ₩ voucher that you could use at the food booths and prices were not overly steep.
Mmmmm, ice cream and kebab.
From the booths area we headed along the waterfront road towards the massive tiger statue that marks the start point of the parting. While we were waiting, we had front row seats to watch a boat run itself aground along the side of the sea path. You have to wonder what he was thinking. ‘Right, there’s thousands of people here because the tide pulls back to expose bare ground in the next 10 minutes; should be fine to take my gigantic outboard through here.’ Either way, it was a nice bit of entertainment while we were waiting for the tide to drop enough to cross.
Boats work on land right?
Everyone was so colourful! You can see the point where the parting started in the background.
This parade happened just as people were starting to test the water depth on the sea path.
Despite starting near the front of the stream of people heading into the water, we never did get all the way across. It could be that Sunday was not one of the lowest points for the tide, but either way the sea only fully parted for about a third of the distance and that third was from the far island. We never got to walk on the actual land bridge. Most of the time we were wading through ankle to knee deep water, but there were a couple times when we were standing on gravel bars with basically no water on them in the middle of the sea. That was pretty cool. After less than an hour, a police boat came by blowing whistles and waving people back. A quick glance behind us showed that the tide was now coming in and a few hundred metres back there was a point where the water threatened to flood our boots. This led to a rather rapid dash back towards shore which did not abate until we had passed this danger zone. The rest of the wander back in was pretty tame and we managed to make it back without mishap. Once we had removed our boots – which were collected by some older Korean ladies – we walked back to the parking lot just in time to catch the bus and head for home.
Although it was a little bit of a disappointment when the water did not part completely, the festival was still a great time. We would recommend that people give it a look. Jindo also appears to be a place worth spending some time exploring, and we may well return to hike some the small mountains near the centre. The parting of the sea – a great way to spend a Sunday in Korea.