Another small one for you today, Diary, continuing on from last time.
Jeju! I made it 🙂
After some hard, challenging, yet ultimately rewarding times in Seoul, I was glad to get away from my hostel and into the Korean “Countryside” (See here to learn why I was so glad to leave Seoul). I had heard many things about the wonderful mountains of the island – I was keen to get started and get hiking!
The first thing that greeted me as my plane floated (well, it was in fact a very rough landing 😛 ) into the airport at Jeju, were rolling green fields and bulging green mountains. It was a refreshing change to not simply see skyscrapers everywhere around me.
Embarking from the plane, I asked the attendants if the address I had saved as a screenshot on my phone was readable for a Korean taxi driver. Sure enough, the internet had not let me down, and I was on my way from the airports as soon as I had my bags. The Hostel turned out to be only fifteen minutes drive from the airport, and the driver and I had not trouble finding it, despite the language barrier.
The Hostel was on the eighth floor. It was a really nice, clean guesthouse, and as I was guided into my dorm, I was overjoyed to see that I was the only one there!! Alas, this peace was not to last. I arrived in the afternoon, and so spent my first day in Jeju relaxing and meandering around. I got settled into my new hostel, and found a nearby grocer where I could buy my favourite instant noodles to have for lunch.
I spent the rest of the day on my laptop, writing and reading. I was immediately enraptured by the atmosphere of Jeju; it was much milder weather-wise (I would later regret those words), which after the snow in Seoul was a welcome change. I’m just an Australian, after all. I may love the winter, but I wasn’t used to snow yet.
I began reading up on things to do around Jeju, and made my way out into the streets to indulge in a burger for dinner.
After wandering the streets looking for some food, and returning to my room for the night, an elderly Korean gentlemen was next to join my dorm. And immediately, he invited me to join him for some dinner.
‘No,’ I said clearly. ‘I’ve already eaten.’
Apparently the limited English he spoke didn’t encompass the word “No.”
Before I knew it, he and I were sharing a meal of rice and kimchi on the floor of our dorm room. Not long after we began, another traveller joined our ranks, as Martin, a tall German sat down with us. The Soju came out (A Korean alcohol very similar to vodka, which mixes surprisingly well with a bit of milk), and we had a
real party on our hands spent the night talking and yarning away.
Juju Island lies to the south of the Korean Peninsula. It is a popular holidaying spot amongst Koreans, and even Chinese people, who take the ferry across the ocean to vacation on the island, which enjoys seasonably warmer weather than the rest of the Korean Peninsula. It is famous for its emerald mountains that surge over the countryside, and for its sprawling coast and seafood culture, it’s the perfect place to indulge in Korean culture away from the hustle and bustle of Seoul.
Waking up a little slowly the next day, I was pestered by several members of the dorm towards going on one hike or the other. I was intensely keen to hike, but this particular day, I had other plans. Today, I just wanted to relax, and go at my own pace, and that meant leaving the others to their plans, whilst I explored the city.
I meandered through the streets, darting into coffee shops, and out again. I had read about the shopping centres in Korea, and I went seeking the retailers. The first place I stumbled across was a bustling food market! The combination of seafood smells was insane; there were tanks of fish lining the markets, along with octopus and crab.
The shops themselves were practically deserted!! All the shops in the main mall were open, but I was the only one walking past! it was really bizarre; I was expecting there to much more activity, and was surprised to find shops like Nike completely abandoned.
I finished off my stroll with a walk along the waterfront, where I saw Hallasan (Mt. Hall) bathed in cloudy, afternoon sunlight. It was nice to be near the ocean again; to hear the breath of the wind and smell of the ocean. It was as refreshing as meditation, and I hadn’t realised how much I had missed it. I breathed it all in, and let myself relax for what felt like the first time in ages.