Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Busan Breaks


Any ideas how my hands turned this color? No, I didn't dip them in the local river. Nor are they the result of pretending to be a muslim woman for a day. This is what happens when your wet-suit ends at the wrist.

The only thing which has mattered these past few weeks is surfing. My once new room mate, Bryan, spoke of nothing else since arriving here. Then his computer was delivered and surf videos began streaming day and night through my modem. Where as Bryan has done relatively little surfing Jason, my friend and previous room mate, has considerable experience.


Whenever Bryan and Jason communicated, 90% of the message had to do with surfing. Long after the parties at our place had ended these two would be sitting there, watching a surf vid on the lap top and throwing out all sorts of big names and surf jargon I could only pretend to relate to. One night Rory, another surf fanatic, stayed after our other friends and girlfriends got sick of surf talk and left. The four of us flipped through a surf magazine Bryan had brought with him. We gazed at the well worn pages, fantasizing about riding similar waves one day.

Then on May 5th Rory and Bryan set out on a mission to find waves. I only remember the specific date because I and many others suffered our worst hangover yet in this country. The previous night had been my birthday.


We all met at a local gravel pit, a pork restaurant with a gravel floor, and ended up drinking copious amounts of beer, soju (24% Rice Liquor)


and whatever else the locals encouraged us to drink that night.


Then we migrated to the park to drink more, play basketball and make music until four in the morning.


I met my girlfriend at the bus station at 8:30am, on the verge of death. The can of beer Jason prescribed for my hangover wasn't helping any. I slept the first 5 hours to the Tea Festival and came so close to barfing on the last bus I decided to sit on the steps next to the garbage can. As soon as Alice and I hit the hotel it was lights out for both of us.


That night the rain came with vengeance. It never stopped poring the entire trip.


We almost decided skip the festival but at the last minute we realized it would be stupid to skip the very thing we had come for.


So we endured the rain and actually really enjoyed the aesthetic it gave the place.



The journey home was much more pleasant.


Judging by the last time I'd seen Bryan - sleeping with the kitchen garbage can beside his bed and already quarter full of vomit - I figured he and Rory would have opted to stay home. But they had in fact gone - and found waves... and it had been even easier than anticipated. Their taxi driver not only knew where to take them, he gave them the low down on some super secret surf spots!

Since this day Bryan, Rory and I have gone surfing every weekend. Weather has suddenly become a whole lot more interesting to me. All of us are constantly up date on the marine forecasts looking at wave tables, tides and satellite imagery. The first weekend was gray and rainy but this meant the waves were peeking at 1.6 meters.


They were no good for learning, and we got absolutely pummeled by them but it was still a hell of a lot of fun.


Also, bad weather meant uncrowded beached which was nice. The water was cold enough that part of my feet went yellow-y numb by the end of my three hours, but I didn't come close to loosing them like Bryan had the previous weekend.

This last weekend was amazing. Alice and Jason joined us this time around. The waves were a little smaller than last time, 1.2 meters, but they were rolling in much nicer, great for learning.


Only this time is was sunny and 28 degrees so tons of Koreans and and half the US Army were holding the beech.


I never realized what a huge difference height makes when trying to make it past the break. Waves were hitting me in the wast and pushing me around a little but to Alice they were brick walls body checking and washing her up onto the shore. Nonetheless, she was a trooper and managed to catch a couple rides in before calling it a day due to exhaustion.

I found and named my favorite break out there this time. Not only did it have the best waves, it didn't have any current . The water had warmed up significantly, the whole experience was euphoric and thus I had no desire to leave. Things started coming together. I was learning how to read the waves and select the better ones. I got the hang of how to speed up and slow down when lying on the board. I even managed to stand up and ride an entire wave out before jumping around screaming with joy.


When I finally turned in I realized just how tiered I was. Alice, her friend and I had some dinner and then caught the train back home.


Now, I too, am becoming obsessed with surfing. Bryan now owns a board and is living his dream. I'm considering spending a week or two of being a surf-bum up in Busan. I've already checked the wave tables for text week and looks like 1.1 meters on Friday!

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