Such Is Life: The Disappointing Trip to the Floating Island


Here I am at Seoul’s man-made Floating Island.  You may notice that I am giving the middle finger. Perhaps that needs an explanation.

My weekends are precious to me. How precious?  Remember how Gollum used to call the ring “precious” in Lord of the Rings and he’d get all kooky about it?  That’s exactly how I am in regards to the weekend.  On the rare occasions when my job asks me to come in on Saturdays, I nod politely and then spew an expletive-laden rant to the first person I see logged into Facebook chat.  And if nobody’s logged in?  I spew it to myself.  Weekends are made of gold.  I would happily trade five Mondays of my life for one extra Saturday.  Yes, I’d be shortening my life by four days, but it would be worth it because I’d be getting a Saturday in return.  Hell, who am I kidding?  I’d trade ten Mondays.

So each time the magnificent weekend rolls around, I try to plan something interesting and unique, something that maximizes my invaluable time.  Yesterday, after looking at a few web pages about things to do in Seoul, my girlfriend and I decided it would be a worthwhile venture to see the “Floating Island.”  What island isn’t floating, you might ask.  Atlantis?  It would be a good question.  Islands, from what I also thought, all float.

This – prepare to be shocked – turns out to be untrue.  Islands don’t float, in fact. They’re the tops of underwater mountains, the bottoms of which are connected to the ground.  Seoul’s Floating Island, on the other hand, is a man-made venture, costing a measly $10 million.  They are made up of three structures which have no foundation holding them to the floor of the Han River. Hence the “floating” in the name.  The three are connected to each other by wires that run under the water.  To the untrained eye, they don’t look like “islands” so much as they look like big floating shopping malls.

On the Korea Tourism website, the Floating Island is called an “amusement park.” Different websites talk about performances on the islands and other cool stuff there.  All of that is to say, it sounded like a fun place to check out.  They are the largest man made floating islands in the world. So why the heck not?

That wasn’t a rhetorical question.  Why the heck not? I’ll tell you why the heck not: cause they ain’t open, that’s why.  Apparently the islands were closed on May 22nd due to worries that rain could cause unforeseen floating problems.  This information, which might seem noteworthy, does not appear on the Korea Tourism website.  They apparently have taken more of a “surprise the tourists” stance.  And surprise this guy and his girlfriend they did.  We arrived to find the islands completely inaccessible, not even connected to anything remotely close to the land.  They were deserted and empty, just big metal things floating by themselves in the river.  There was a wedding going on by the islands too, which added to the confusion.  We looked on helplessly as our Saturday went up in smoke and a nice Korean couple made a decision they will surely regret (marriage).

Oh well, oh shucks, such is life.  At one point in time, I would’ve felt frustrated, but I’ve grown accustomed to things not working out as planned and so I shrugged with acceptance.  The Floating Island (which really should be plural I feel) re-opens this Wednesday, June 20th.  I will not be returning to see what I missed.  I will instead assume it is amazing.  Our day was not a total loss, as the park nearby was nice and we ate ice cream on a bench.  Later, there was some sort of water display that featured the bridge over the river shooting big streams of colored water down into it. Everybody ooed and awed.  Eh, who am I kidding?  No they didn’t.  Everybody just sort of looked at it because it was there and it was something happening.  We watched it twice for the hell of it, once when the sun was still up and once after it went down.  Maybe this one wasn’t a Saturday I’d trade ten Mondays of my life for; it was worth two or three though, especially if those Mondays aren’t during football season.