Yel­low Sea prov­ince

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Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

WHILE wrestling Willemien’s small fold­able bi­cy­cle from the taxi’s boot, I heard t he only f er r y s er vi ci ng t he i s l ands sound its de­part­ing hoot.

We wer e a t S a mmok f e r r y pi e r. Across the calm grey wa­ter of the Yel­low Sea lay our des­ti­na­tion, a string of l i t t l e i s l a n d s wi t h r o c k y o u t c r o p s wr a p p e d i n s u mmer h a z i n e s s . We rushed on­board. The f err y whis­tled once more be­fore the ves­sel slowly left the pier. At a leisurely speed we sailed to­wards Sindo Is­land.

To our sur­prise, t he f err y passed Sindo, our planned point of dis­em­bark­ing, and docked at Jang­bongdo Is­land.

We blamed the lan­guage prob­lem for this mis­un­der­stand­ing, but an is­land i s a n i s l a n d , a n d we wer e c u r i o u s enough to change our itin­er­ary and went ashore.

We waited a mo­ment for the queu­ing ferry traf­fic to leave be­fore and then tack­led the small is­land’s curvy road.

For the next five kilo­me­tres the road wound through pris­tine i ndige­nous for­est, with views of the sea and sur­round­ing is­lands.

We passed small val­leys where strips of r i ce pad­dies l ay f i nely edged by dif­fer­ent shades of green and saw an el­derly cou­ple shuf­fling in the rice fields. The woman’s face, barely vis­i­ble, was wrapped in cloth un­der a floppy hat pro­tect­ing her face from the Asian sun. In the shel­ter of small bays lay sandy beaches. Each beach had its own lin­ing of tiny wooden cabins in the shade of an­cient trees.

The out­skirts of t he l ocal vi l l age greeted us with flow­ery gar­dens and log cot­tages. In the mid­day heat the vil­lage streets were filled with a “si­esta” si­lence. One could al­most hear the si­lence on the wind still hot af­ter­noon.

Vil­lage ar­chi­tec­ture was a mix­ture of old tra­di­tional Korean dwellings in need of restora­tion, mod­ern brick struc­tures and a few Swiss-styled log cot­tages. Even s ome of t he most dil ap­i­dated houses had pic­turesque rose gar­dens.

Where small f i shing ves­sels dock stood the ru­ins of a burnt-down shed. In­side was a huge rusted an­chor.

We walked down a nar­row ce­ment road lead­ing along the water­front be­tween the sea and cliffs. Two boys on a bi­cy­cle greeted us, their wav­ing hands caus­ing the cy­cle to sway across the road in the noon si­lence. At the point of the bay, the heat over­came us and we en­joyed our in the shade.

Though one can spend more time on Jang­bongdo we de­cided to move on to a neigh­bor­ing is­land. We caught the is­land’s only bus back to the ferry port and the ferry dropped us at Sindo’s pier.

Sindo Is­land’s ro­man­tic pic­ture is painted by Swiss-style l og cot­tages stand­ing among small vine­yards and veg­etable gar­dens sur­rounded by nat­u­ral for­est.

El­derly peo­ple paused a mo­ment from their labour on the farm­lands and strug­gled upright to greet the pass­ing strangers. A dirty red dwarf trac­tor, the size of a scooter tuck­ing a fit­ting trailer, pulled out of the vine­yards onto the road in front of us.

With the wife on the trailer and the farmer driv­ing, the trac­tor moved at a snail’s pace as it dis­ap­peared into the for­est.

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