Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Beach (07/04/05)
TITLE: The Difference
By Esther Jones
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I’ve been on the soft sandy beaches of Waikiki in Hawaii, gazing out at the famous Diamond Head and glorying in the sun’s warm rays. And straight ahead, in the Pacific, the view is terrific, nothing but blue blue ocean. Of course the beach is crowded with tourists and it is nicer to go earlier in the morning before the heat brings the crowds out. One thing to remember is- never to fall asleep in that sun, the rays are too strong for skin used to the bite of a Canadian winter. It was a long sore walk to my house that day. I was certainly grateful for the aloe plant and its healing sap.
Trying to body surf in the waves is fun, although a challenge to one grown up on prairie soil, not ocean surf. Even on the North Shore, near Kaneohe, the other side of the island, one gets a different, quieter perspective, on the beach. You stand on the wave-kissed sand, startled at the salty slap of waves in your face, gazing out at another famous landmark, Chinaman’s Hat –that sits in the deep water like a picture perfect postcard. The deep green cliffs of Na Pali stand behind you like guardians, their volcanic faces etched deep with wind and weather.
On another beach in Thailand, I’ve waded as much as half an mile out in the aqua green surf, marvelling in the soft waves that are so clear and gentle here in the tropics. Hawkers call out their wares on shore and its tempting to buy the beach stuff, or a sweet snack to enjoy while on vacation, far from the hot crowded streets of Bangkok. My sister and I play in the water, enjoying this moment while it lasts.
So on this beach I stand, not among the tourism-covered beaches of the Pacific paradise of America, nor on the peaceful beaches of the Thai who are also catering to the tourists. No American capitalism is evident here, nor the laid back attitude of the Land of the Smiles. The wind here sweeps by out to the ocean, racing ultimately to the East Sea, as the Koreans call it. Its other name is the Sea of Japan, (it all depends on your perspective.) The Koreans and Japanese have not seen eye to eye since the peninsula suffered under the dominance of its island neighbour in 1910 until 1945. Further out from shore, way in the distance, are large ships, likely hauling scrap iron, as this area is famous for its scrap iron industry. It seems amazing that these ships are so big, and yet so far away.
The beach itself is sandy and rocky, making walking a challenge. No nice romantic walks here, sinking toes in the sand as the waves wash gently in the warm sun. No, here it is cool; the waves are greenish and restless, rolling in and out on white combers that fascinate with their rhythm. This place is strong and cold, like its country, no easy gifts, no lying around in the sun. There are places where the shore is covered with hundreds of tiny shells, every step crunches on them, they’re impossible to avoid. Farther out from the shore on the horizon, one can see the faint shoreline of rocky hills, that form a final barrier against the ocean beyond them. On the shore here to the right and the left are rocky outcrops that go on and on along the mighty peninsula that is Korea. Rough and rugged and yet strikingly beautiful, this is a place where those who persevere, survive. At times on this coast, one can see so far the horizon bends, following the curve of the earth. It is an incredible view for one who has grown up in the prairies of Canada. The prairies are, themselves, hundreds of miles from any shore, in any direction. Here I am on a tiny peninsula that sticks out into the East Sea. This is living in Korea.
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