24 Before 24: Go Camping and See the Sunrise from a Beach

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I’m doing 24 fun or new things before I turn 24. You can see the rest of my list here.

It was a very good weekend for bucket list experiences. In three days, I spent about 10 hours in transport, didn’t get enough sleep and ate too much junk food. But it was a small price to pay for all the beautiful and awesome things I got to see and experience.

My friends and I spent one night camping on the beach of Bijindo, a beautiful, tiny island about 3 hours away from Busan. It’s very small, with only a handful of small shops in people’s homes selling beer, ramen noodles and packaged cookies and only one little restaurant serving about two dishes. It some ways it was a sad place, with lots of trash (and cute trash puppies) everywhere and half-built or run-down buildings, but the surrounding nature was so stunning that we barely noticed.  A friend and I were lucky enough to stumble upon some locals having a flying lantern ritual and when we stopped to admire the process they quickly handed us a lantern or our own so that we could join in. Ours didn’t quite make it off the ground and almost set a bush on fire, but it was a pretty magical moment nonetheless, watching all the lanterns float up into the starry sky. Later that night I had one of the cooler experiences of my entire life when we swam and splashed around in the very cold, bioluminescent water. I’d never even heard of this phenomenon before, but I was quite literally in awe of the sparkling turqoise shimmers. It was unbelieveable. It seemed like magic (I’m still not convinced it wasn’t…) and I just felt this huge sense of wonder at this crazy beautiful world we live in.

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We camped on the beach along with only a handful of other tents – most people who had visited the island during the day cleared out on the last ferry, leaving the place fairly quiet and peaceful. We weren’t really prepared for it to get so cold overnight, so it wasn’t a great sleep, but that made it easier to wake up for the beautiful sunrise. I realized only later that I don’t remember the last time I watched the sun rise at all, nevermind watching it from such a beautiful place. We were cold and shivering, but it was worth it.

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Later that morning, we took a hike straight up the mountain, cutting through fields of produce and a very wild jungle of a forest. The whole island was pretty wild, with bugs the likes of which I’d never seen and bird calls the likes of which I’d never heard. We even sadly saw two dead dogs right as we arrived on the island. It just seemed like the place had its own ecosystem, which was really awesome. Who knows if it’s true, but the bioluminescence has me convinced. The forest itself was beautiful and felt like something straight out of Lord of the Rings, and the views from the top of the mountain were totally stunning.

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The rest of the weekend was also a bit of a dream. I finally tried a Mexican-style restaurant in my area (a big deal for Korea) and found out that the people were lovely, the atmosphere was awesome, and the food was amazing (an even bigger deal). Then Sunday we admired the huge sand sculptures on our local beach and then made a big trek out to a beach a lot further away, across the city. The draw was the “sunset fountain of dreams” – a water and light show choreographed to music – but we had time to kill before the show. We spent the day exploring the beautiful beach, taking a gorgeous coastal walk, talking and listening to music on a rock surrounded on one side by water and on the other by forest, practicing handstands and taking lots of pictures. The show was great, but the best part of the whole trip for me was discovering a trampoline at a run-down little arcade right near the beach. Dylan and I jumped on it for a long time, laughing our heads off and getting weird looks from passersby.

It was a wonderful weekend, full of beautiful and special moments with wonderful people that already feel like great memories. I feel really, really lucky.

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