February 16th, 2009 – by: LivYorDrem
The locks on the way to Incheon
This morning I woke up at 5 am which was not bad considering what time I went to bed! I had a pizza from room service for breakfast (I just don’t like breakfast foods that much!) and then prepared for arrival into Incheon, Korea. The captain made his morning announcement and said that we had made up a great deal of time during the night due to favorable currents and winds. Since Incheon was approached through locks, we had a reservation for passage earlier than first thought and we would be in Incheon about 1 pm. The navigation of the locks was a difficult technical maneuver since the passage was very narrow, only about 6 feet wider than the ship and the winds and current was pushing from one side.
This meant that the ship would need to be tied on both sides to keep from hitting either of them.
On the way to Jayu Park
In talking with the Captain later, it seems that he loves a challenge. He is only 37 years old. He was talking about the different ports that we can get into, being a smaller ship. He talks with anticipation of the difficult technical maneuvers that he will need to do for each one.
So we arrived at the locks at about 11 am. The maneuver was done flawlessly, at least to my uneducated eyes. At least I know we didn’t hit anything! We stopped there for about 15 minutes while they raised us to the proper level and we were on our way. It took no time at all to go the mile or so to the dock.
I had a little lunch and then went into town when we were cleared through customs and free to leave the ship. My plan was to head to Jayu (Freedom) Park on foot and then the local market called Sinpo Market, not sure what to expect. It was about a half hour walk to the park and I found it fairly easily with the map they had given on the ship.
Jayu Park was a pretty little park set on the top of a hill overlooking the harbor. It was dedicated to General Douglas Macarthur for his part in keeping South Korea free from communist rule. There was a large statue of him in amongst the landscaped park. There were some locals out getting their exercise and the park had an exercise trail with equipment stations.
In the park was also a large round walk-in type enclosure that housed chickens, turkeys, ducks and all kinds of other critters, mostly birds.
As I stood there looking through the mesh enclosure, I got to witness the nature of the Korean people. I was outside the mesh when a little girl about 5 years old came running around the pen. She stopped next to me and was holding a bag of chips. She held one out to me and I thought she wanted to feed the ducks that had gathered. When I gestured to her to go ahead and feed the duck, she shook the chip at me. So I took it and fed it to the duck. She smiled and gave me another one, then climbed onto the rail to give them a couple herself. She gave me another chip, then jumped down off the rail, stopped, turned and waved and ran off around the side of the pen. I had one quick glimpse as she joined her mother and then she was gone. I hadn’t seen her before then and I didn’t see her afterwards. It was just such a sweet thing and she never said a word.
So many fish at the market
Many many fish
I finished up at the park. I had seen a few good birds and headed now to the market. I didn’t know what kind of market it was, I just knew that it was on the ship’s map. I walked for a while, only half sure that I was headed the right direction. I saw a sign and found the right place. It turned out to be a local market, selling prepared foods like steamed buns, kimchee, and fried chicken type dishes with Korean sauces. It was interesting and smelled delicious. Many people on the ship are so afraid to eat anything not prepared by the ship. They would not even consider trying street food, they are so afraid of getting sick. But to me, the food is so much a part of the culture that it is a shame to miss out on it because of fear. I stopped and watched one woman at her stand.
She had piles of steamed buns and dumplings with various fillings. Several people had come by and gotten packages of meat which looked like sliced liver, kidneys and gizzards as well as this weird looking black sausage. I stood there watching for a while and she eventually offered me a small steamed dumpling. I tried it and it was very good, filled with a type of chopped onion filling. She sliced off a piece of the funny looking sausage which I gallantly tried. I still have no idea what it was and I didn’t ask. It was nothing to write home about (except that is exactly what I am doing!), rather bland. I bought a few steamed buns and dumplings from her. There were other stalls selling dried fish products or frozen squid and octopi. Some stalls had dry goods, rice or beans and some cooked other dishes. I wandered through and then stopped on a corner to sit and eat my unknown food.
Many many many fish
I wasn’t sure if I could bring it on the ship with me so I wanted to try some before I went back and they made me throw it out. The dumplings she had told me were filled with Korean kimchee. I think that this was meant to be a warning, as they were very spicy but good. The steamed buns were made of three different kinds of dough. Two were filled with a sweet bean paste and one had the onion mixture. All were good and very warm. It was only 28 degrees outside and I discovered that steamed buns made very nice handwarmers! I headed back to the ship and what leftovers I had I gave to the local customs guards who laughed. I hate to let food go to waste!
The nice lady who let me sample things! Not sure what they were...
When I got back to the ship, I went to see if the pool at the front of the ship (the thallassotherapy pool) was hot enough to get in.
It was just barely so I relaxed in there for a while. Afterwards I went back to the room and changed into the dinner clothes. I went up to a lounge offering a margarita tasting and tried several kinds. I think the wildberry is my favorite and I may have to order more of those. I chatted with a gentleman from Scotland for a while (or was it Ireland? I can’t remember). Another couple joined us in a bit and then we went to dinner. It was wonderful again, I had a nice Cornish hen dish. We sailed on time at 8 pm and went through the locks again on our way out. We were on our way to Japan. We are scheduled to arrive in Osaka in a day and a half or so. Tomorrow is a day at sea and I’m hoping for a nice relaxing one at that! Called it a night about 10:30.