Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Dokdo Island

The second day on Ullungdo island the few of us that didn't suffer from motion sickness the day before took a ferry to Dokdo Island, the famous rocky island that is the cause of a long territorial dispute between Korea and Japan. Dokdo (or "Takeshima" as it's known in Japan) is located 90 kilometers east of Ullungdo island and 157 kilometers northwest of Japan's Oki islands. Both Koreans and the Japanese are very passionate about this island and one of my older classes got very mad at me when I told them I went to Japan this weekend to visit Takeshima! The dispute is not merely over the 2 rocky islands of Dokdo but also of the water rights surrounding the islands which compose of 16,600 square miles of very fertile fishing grounds and may contain some 600 million tons of gas hydrate--a possible energy source for the future.
Right before boarding the ferry I took a mix of tylenol PM (thanks Emily!) and a packet of about 12 various pills the Koreans were selling for motion sickness. I really wanted to catch up on some sleep and was not looking forward to a repeat of the last ferry ride-- imagine watching almost everyone around you look deadly sick and a Korean family laying on the floor in front of you puking into vomit bags... not an experience I want to repeat. So I went into a deep sleep on the way to the island and woke up to Korean tourists racing each other to the outside deck to get the first view of Dokdo. Unfortunately though we weren't able to get off the boat because the water was too choppy to land. We circled around and heard commentary in Korean for about 30 minutes. The sun was just beginning to go down and the islands looked really beautiful. While we were at Dokdo I also looked down in the water and saw a huge jellyfish about 3 feet in diameter right below me-- I was quite fascinated with it. It was also really funny while we were on the boat Koreans kept wanting to take pictures of my friend and I... what's the tourist attraction again? I've noticed that Koreans have an obsession with pictures that I haven't seen anywhere else in the world. Sometimes I wonder if they ever actually stop to appreciate what they're seeing in between the non-stop photo taking...