Jeju Adventure

Wow! Another week has come and gone. Am I really boarding the first of three planes tonight? It doesn’t feel like it. (I still have some shopping to do for people! Oh no! But this honey bread is too delicious to rush through eating.)

I got to Jeju Island, at the veeery south of South Korea, a week ago. I had a lovely four and a half hours to kill before I could go to my guest house, though. Silly early flights. So I wandered around the Dongmun Rotary area of Jeju City and relished the wonderful breeze coming off the ocean, and while my phone still had battery, I even messaged some of my former students and sent them pictures to make them jealous~!

I shared my room with five other women, half of whom only stayed one night. The two women who stayed longer, however, spoke great English with me and helped me out a lot, so thanks, Ellis and June! I had some wonderful conversations, meals, and adventures with them. More on those later. Let’s see now if I can recount all my journeys.

On my first day, I wandered around exploring the local traditional market. If it’s not filled with the tangerines Jeju is known for, then it smells of fish. (Imagine that – an island city having fish!) I also explored other parts of town near the guest house so I wouldn’t get lost before check-in time. To my great surprise and pleasure, just down the road I happened to find the following:

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(The guy in the picture then skateboarded right by me.) This means something only because I used to want to learn to skateboard – I think we still have the board my parents got me when I was ten! – but mostly because only a day or two before, my roleplay friends and I created characters who love to skateboard. The timing was amazing, so I took a picture for them.

Partly from my own interest and partly because I know people who would have wanted me to go, on Wednesday I visited the Nexon Computer Museum.

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It’s four stories of nifty! It gives an overview of various computers, gaming systems, and other technologies. You can type your name into their guestbook, listen to different video game sounds, play matching games, try out all sorts of cool gadgets, play video games on systems old and newer, and in the basement, they have an arcade, gift shop, and food.

Be jealous of my (expensive) keyboard waffle and mouse bread!

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After the museum, I went to Halla Arboretum. Why is it my first days are spent walking until my legs want to fall off? Oh well. Though hot out, it was a pleasurable hike.

On Thursday I gave myself a break. I planned to go to the Jeju Starlight World Park & Planetarium that night, so I let my legs rest during the day and hung out at this cafe across the street (where I’m typing this post now).  After an early dinner, I took the bus out to the museum. Small but nice, and I got to see Saturn two times~ I also met the cutest girl. We happened to be walking to the observatory at the same time, and she kept turning around, smiling at me, and looking at her mother giddily. Clearly she wanted to talk to me, and not thirty seconds after I thought that, she said “Hello.”

Pleasantly surprised, I greeted her back, and she began this stop-and-start conversation with me – IN ENGLISH. “My name is… My baby’s name is…” [Meaning her little brother, I assume. It was a bit hard to hear.] “I’m seven years old.”  When I held up 2 and 4 on my fingers, she asked “Twenty-four?”  Wow!  “English teacher?” she asked, to which I said “Yes”, even though I finished that job technically.

Over the course of the next half our, I suppose, we chatted here and there. She’s in English school and taekwondo school. She’s a purple belt. (She looked utterly amazed when I told her I was a black belt in the same style.)

Even outside the planetarium our conversation continued. Starlight World Park & Planetarium (3)In the front lawn they have large models of the solar system , so I asked “What’s this?” She didn’t know “Sun”, but she knew Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, if I recall. I was beyond stunned! I don’t even know those in Japanese, which I’ve studied for a grand total of a handful of years. I only know “Earth” – chikyuu – and here she knew half the solar system! I wish we could have talked more, but we both had to leave. What an awesome kid! Parents of this girl, you’re doing an astounding job!

I can’t remember precisely what days I did things on now – (alas! Let this be a lesson to me to keep better records.) – but I spent two days from about 11AM until 1 or 3PM in the nearby Starbucks. The second day I was actually productive, though, you guys. I wrote more for a story I haven’t worked on in two weeks! See?!

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On Saturday, I believe, I went with my roommate Ellis to Samyang Blacksand Beach. We spent the afternoon in a cafe overlooking the ocean, then, when it cooled down more, we took a walk across it and stood in the water some. (In my tennis shoes, long socks, and jeans, I wasn’t remotely dressed for it.) We lounged around on the sand, too, and buried our feet in it. From what I understand, the sand is supposed to be good for your skin or health? All I know is it’s likely basalt, which is why it’s black-ish, and I enjoyed amazing kids by writing in the sand and filling the letters in with the lighter-colored dry sand. (See the cover picture, which says “Anyeong” or “Hi” in Korean.)

I ended up not doing much on Sunday (which, I believe, was when I wrote in Starbucks?), but on Monday, my last full day in Jeju, I decided to travel all the way to the south, to Seogwipo, to see two waterfalls and some spectacular cliffs. Thee bus ride down took about an hour and made me quite ill, and I nearly couldn’t find the first waterfall – Cheonjiyeon. It was a long but scenic walk from the bus stop, and the area itself had a beautiful layout. The waterfall is small but anyone wanting a leisurely day and a nice place to take kids should certainly check it out. Just make sure you ask for the correct waterfall! There’s a Cheonjeyeon Falls as well, about half an hour from this one, Cheonjiyeon.

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From here I went to see what I was most excited about – the columnar-joint cliffs. I’m not a geologist and can’t explain well, so I’ll just let you read what I read.

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The cliffs were spectacular, and I took more photos there than I have anywhere else – or perhaps everywhere combined! This is also a great place to bring kids, and there’s a long promenade you can enjoy as well once you’re finished having your mind blown by the cliffs and the crashing waves. They recommend going on cloudier days, as there are fewer people and the waves are larger.

A long, exhausting walk uphill after the promenade brought me to a very famous bridge and Cheonjeyeon Falls – actually three different waterfalls, if I understand correctly.

On one side of the bridge you can hike down and see the different waterfalls. I started with the third, which was on it’s own path – and boy what a path that was! Long, steep, lots of stairs…! It was nice when I got there, but all in all I preferred the second waterfall and the Cheonjeyeon pond, both of which you can reach by a second path. If you visit here, be prepared for a walk!

Now it’s Tuesday, and I’m back in that cafe I mentioned earlier. Soon I’ll pack up my things and stroll the shops to get my final souvenirs. (Too many clothing shops! My non-shopping soul can’t handle it!) Then it’s off to the airport. I’ll spend the night in Tokyo and take the final two flights tomorrow morning. Phew!

On my list of things to do if I come back to Jeju – (partly a list of things I said I’d do but never did) – are:

  • Caves
  • Lava tubes
  • Museums
  • Prehistoric sites

Now, for those following along to this point, I’ll leave you with lots of images of food and be on my way.

Mata, ne!

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