Norma and I had good intentions to get up early so that we would have plenty of beach time. However, due to the late hour that we had gone to bed the night before, that did not happen. We got up around 9 or 9:30 and just took it easy in the morning. She had brought all kinds of breads from home which we heated those up for breakfast and just chit-chatted the morning away. We finally got out of the apartment about noonish and our destination was the south side of Pohang, which was supposed to have the nicer beaches and the famous Homigot sunrise park, which is famous for the giant hand sculptures called “The Hands of Harmony” or the “Hands of Coexistence”. From the research I did online, I found out that these sculptures were created in 1999 and are supposed the represent the spirit of the Korean people and their struggle to pursue a better life.
We decided to hail a taxi to take us to the park thinking that it would only be about 15 minutes at the most. It was actually twice that amount of time and since we were going outside the taxi drivers area of service, we had to pay extra. It ended up costing us about 46,000 won or about $43. The area that the park is in is actually a quiet beachy area. There aren’t a lot of businesses or tall buildings that you see on the north side. The taxi dropped off us in an area that had different food kiosks, and a sandy path to a concrete boardwalk area.
The beach in this area was NASTY! The water was filthy and it was obvious that it was just a big trash dump for the kiosk busnisses. You could see trash and all kinds of dead fish, squid, and octopus floating in the water. We figured it was old seafood that the kiosks didn’t sell and they just decided to return them to the ocean in worse shape than how the little guys were retrieved.
We kept following the boardwalk in the direction we saw other people walking. We couldn’t see the infamous hands yet, but we enjoyed the rocky coast as we tried to ignore the poor condition of the ocean here. The beach did get cleaner as walked along and we noticed people walking on the rocks and taking pictures.
Here are a few pics of the area. I tried to avoid taking pictures of the nasty water.
As we got closer to the sunrise park, the water appeared cleaner. And then we turned a corner and there it was, the beautiful hand reaching out of the water. It is quite magnificent and I can see why so many people come to take pictures of it. I bet it is quite a sight during a sunrise. Just like in Jungdongjin, this is a popular place to come for the New Year.
There is another hand on land that has a ring in front of it. It is almost like there is a person underneath the earth reaching his hands to the sky, waiting for someone to pull him or her from underneath. I imagine the person coming up through the ground and once they feel the sun on their face they throw their head back and sigh, and in that sigh, there is this feeling of ‘finally, finally after living in the darkness I can see the sun and breathe’. When looking at the hands I could feel what the artist was trying to communicate because it is definitely something I have felt. Sometimes you feel as if the weight of the world is on top of you and you are just clawing through the dirt but you can’t quite get your head above the earth or above all the stuff that keeps piling on top of you. There is this feeling of being trapped and confined yet no solution or no way to just breathe a little more easily. It is probably something most of us have felt at some time or another. For some of us the feeling passes, or for me personally, I found something to work towards, and everyday I made the decision to do just a little bit to get me closer to achieving my goal. Seeing these hands I felt awe and I felt blessed that I was able to find my way to the sun. Here I am, a couple of months short of 39 and living my dream in South Korea. So, those of you who are feeling the struggle, who are feeling trapped by life, you can also make the change, it is never too late.
Ok, back to the sunrise park. The area had some other sculptures, one of a tiger and another of a couple. There is lighthouse museum, which we did not go visit. There is also another small museum which we also did not see, and there is a large structure shaped like a large circle that you can go up in order the get a view from higher up. You guessed it, we didn’t go there either. By this time we were hot and sweating bullets, instead, we went into a coffee shop and got coffee and dessert.
We were ready to get in some water, and this was not a proper beach for swimming. While we were enjoying our coffee and dessert in the gloriously air-conditioned coffee shop where we looked up the closest beach, and lo and behold, we could get there by bus. We checked the bus schedule and where to pick it up. We headed to the bus stop, got on the bus and made our way to Guryongpo Beach.
Before getting into how the beach was, I must first talk about my ordeal of buying a bathing suit in my size here in Korea. Like a dummy, I forgot my bathing suit at home, so I had to find one here in Korea. Luckily Korea is the master of online shopping sources. I found one on GMarket, the Korean version of Amazon, and took a chance on one that was sized 3x. Let me tell you, do not be fooled by what the sizes say. It was definitely not a 3x, in fact, it was barely a 2x. The swimsuit I bought was simple. It was red with white flowers and came with these cute 1960s style shorts. It was a super cute style. When I received the swimsuit, style wise it did not disappoint. It also came with a little bralette that could be attached inside the suit to provide cover for the twins. However, when I say little, I do mean little, like maybe a B cup. Definitely not adequate for my ample bossum. On a good note, I was able to fit into the swimsuit and it was pretty cute.
The beach was packed full of Koreans of all ages. And, not ONE of THEM was in a SWIMSUIT! Just about every person was in what looked like the swimsuits that Muslim women wear, but without the head scarves. Most of them were covered from their necks to their ankles. Only a few wore shorts, but the majority were in long sleeved swimming clothes. It was awesome! I have found my people. I hate getting in a swimsuit. I like to tan though, which puts me in a juxtaposition. But as I get older, my dislike of getting in a swimsuit is stronger than my desire to get a tan. I decided to keep my shirt on and joined the rest of the fully clothed people in the water.
This beach was super clean considering how packed it was. Unlike other beaches that I have been to in the U.S or Carribean, this beach had tables with umbrellas instead of loungers. Most people ordered food from the little store right on the beach and the workers would bring it out to them. There were people eating instant ramen everywhere, or in some cases, they ordered something and had it delivered to the beach. Yes, they do that here. You can be in the middle of a field and still order delivery. Another of the great things about Korea.
We initially only planned to stay about an hour and a half because we got to the beach a little late, but we stayed for about 3 hours just playing in the crystal clear water and hanging out in the chairs in order to give us enough time to dry. While drying we mainly just people watched. There weren’t any western foreigners here, we were the only ones. Around 6:30 we were hungry and decided to look for something to eat. We walked up and down the beach area looking for a place but no one would take a card and neither of us had cash. We found another coffee shop where we got a small sandwich and looked for where to catch the bus back to our side of town. We found it and it was an uphill walk. It was still hot, we had pretty much eaten bread all day so we were still hungry. We were wet, salty, and sandy. The uphill walk was a pain in the you know what. We made it, huffing and puffing and drenched in sweat, but we made it.
Oh, the bus ride…it was something. It was like being on a roller-coaster. This area is hilly and the dude was driving about 70mph up and down these hills dodging other cars and pedestrians, screeching around corners and stopping abruptly. It was a nail-biter of a ride, at least for Norma (hehe). Once we got back into the north side the ride got a little smoother. We passed a place that said Kentucky, not sure what it is but I took a picture.
When we got off the bus we wandered around a bit looking for a place to eat. After about 10 minutes of wandering around, we passed a barbecue place specializing in pork belly and my restaurant radar went off. We decided to try it out. The cost was only 11,000 won and you got a hand full of side dishes, lettuce and sesame leaves to make wraps, and what they call three-layer pork belly. It was about an inch thick and just the sight of it was making our mouths water. Norma was kind enough to be the master of the grill, being the chef that she is. I got to just sit, relax and enjoy the fruits of her labor. It was so good that after we finished the first order, we ordered a second. If you are ever in Pohang, and you want to eat cheap, you must come here. I did take a picture of the restaurant.
After filling our bellies we waddled back to our abode. The next day it was home sweet home.
It was a great trip. I had so much fun hanging out with Norma. She has all of the Puerto Rican sass and charm that for some reason I did not inherit from my mom. It was nice being able to practice my Spanglish with another person and explore a country that we both love. I know she and I will share more amazing memories exploring other areas of Korea.
This vacation week has been such a blast. It was two very different styles, and with two very different traveling companions. Both places were amazing, and both friendships will be ones I cherish for a long time. As someone who has been an introvert, and a bit of a homebody while living in the States. I have come to realize how important it is to make connections with other people. I think as we get older it is easy to become complacent and to even get to the point where you don’t want to be around other people, or you feel like you are not a friendly person (at least that is how I felt). I have come to realize how important it is to connect with people. We are social beings, and we are meant to connect with each other besides my means of social media. I have realized this here in South Korea.
Here is a video of all of the pictures I took in Pohang. The background music is in Spanish which may seem a little odd, but the lyrics talk about a journey which a think is totally appropriate. Hope you enjoy.