Jinhae Naval Base
Jinhae (진해) is most-known for its cherry blossoms (sakura) and the Jinhae Port Festival in April. However, last year's Port Festival was canceled after the bombing of the South Korean navy ship "Cheonan" by North Korea forces in March.
Jinhae is one and a half hours away from Busan by car. During the Japanese occupation of Korea, Jinhae was developed as a naval base by the Japanese imperial army, and the Japanese who lived there planted many sakuras in the city. That also explains why the city's development and planning also feels more Japanese than Korean.
I didn't get to go to the Port Festival last year and wear navy uniforms while posing with the beautiful pink cherry blossoms in the background, so I'm really anticipating it this year! However, I had the chance to visit Jinhae last autumn for a paper presentation in KIMICS conference. The conference was held inside the Jinhae Naval Academy, which is rarely open for visitors to enter. I think it is some sort of a military prohibited zone cos when we were busy taking pictures at the entrance, a solider came up to us and said "Do not take pictures".
|On both sides of the road are sakura trees which will make this place look like heaven during spring!|
Jinhae is truly one of those places with astounding views, ranking up there among South Korea's most beautiful places together with Suncheon bay. I could see the geographical advantage of the place as a navy base because the area was a secluded bay with mountains surrounding the area from a distance. The blue sky and the blue mountains afar and the blue sea all seemed to blend together perfectly, just like a beautiful Chinese ink drawing. Also, it was late October and the wind blowing in from the coastal area was really chilly. Before the conference started, Rohit and I ran around the beautiful area to take lots of pictures. Felt like we went sightseeing more than going for conference... kekeke.
|Got my hair all over my face in all of the pictures, but it was really nice!!|
Then, we went back indoors at 10am for the opening ceremony and awards presentation. The organizers also showed a 20-min video of the Cheonan sinking incident and paid tribute to the navy soldiers who died on the ship. Although I couldn't understand most of it (the video was in Korean) but I somehow felt moved to tears. But when I looked at Sung Mo who was sitting beside me, he was sleeping!!! So unpatriotic, haha... That's why I always tell my Korean undergraduates, "Don't go to war... you'll absolutely die cos all you care about is your Starcraft and iPhone apps and how your hair looks like in the morning..."
Left: Me and Sung Mo, undergraduate in my lab who is now a masters student
Right: Me and professors and labmates... OMG I'm the shortest!
|Busy taking pictures before my presentation...|
After our presentations there was this navy parade and honoring-of-the-guards ceremony so we rushed to get good seats at the platform. The immensely beautiful backdrop served as a natural stage for the ceremony and I had fun watching the navy guards and band parade around in their uniforms. I sat with Sung Mo and talked and joked a lot with him. I enjoyed it very much.
|Love this place, especially the mountains and the sea|
Then, after another round of presentations by other lab members, Rohit and I went out to take pictures of the Turtle Ship. The Turtle Ship that we saw was a remodel by the Korean navy from the ancient ship built by Admiral Yi Sun-Shin in A.D.1591, which was instrumental in defeating the Japanese invasion in the South Sea. It is named the Turtle Ship because of its exterior shape (turtle shell), but the head is a dragon. The shell has many spikes on it too, looks like a torture device at sea.
|Picture depicting the battle at sea between Korean and Japanese forces, with the Koreans using the Turtle Ship|
After that it was sunset and Goodbye, Jinhae... till I see you again in Spring for the sakura season! Then I left happily to meet my girlfriends from Malaysia who were visiting me in Busan but there was some mishap when they arrived. But that's another story.