A vacation before classes: 제주도
여러분 안녕하십니까?! (Hello Everyone!)
First off I would like to apologize for taking so long to make my first post after arriving, I decided it would be best not to take my laptop to Jeju island (제주도) and the learning curve with using WordPress has been a little harsh on me.
So far Korea has been a blast. It’s very hot and humid, and I practically break out into sweat the second I walk outside, but it has been fun.
I landed in Korea fairly late at night this past Sunday (6/22) and I was met by my old language partner back at UW and his family. They immediately took me out to Kalbi (갈비) and Patbingsu (팥빙수), which left me stuffed and barely able to move considering I had only just gotten off an 11 and a half flight from Seattle. The next day I stayed in his apartment near Lotte World, but unfortunately he and his family had prior commitments that day so I was left alone with my delivery chicken and some Korean Television, which I was actually more than happy with considering I needed to get over the jet lag ASAP considering I was leaving the next morning for a 3-day trip to Jeju Island.
That Tuesday was crazy, I was led to the station by my old language partner, however was left to get to the Yonsei campus by myself. Luckily though I didn’t need to transfer lines, and the name of the station I was getting off at was practically the same as the one I got on at, Sincheon (신천역) to Sinchon (신촌역). From Exit 2 of Sinchon station it was just straight up to campus and into the auditorium where I would be checking in part of my luggage and meeting the rest of the students going to Jeju Island. At the auditorium we were greeted by some current Yonsei students who would serve as our tour guides for the trip and we were divided into 4 buses, and quickly shuffled off to Gimpo airport for the 50 minute flight to Jeju. When we arrived in Jeju we were led to another set of buses and given another tour guide from the island of Jeju, and were led to our first meal on the island.
Jeju’s main exports are Tangerines and Green Tea, however they are known for their ‘black’ pork. It’s not actually a black color, rather it refers to the way locals a long time ago would share a bathroom space in the area as the pigs…nonetheless a popular dish in Jeju, and among the shamanistic on the island it is said to help ward off evil goddesses who like to play tricks on humans.
From our first meal we were led to a green tea museum, followed by a mountain on the coast of the island, where I realized just how much I would be sweating in Korea for the next few days, let alone the next 6 weeks. High humidity + high actual temperature + physical exertion = lots of sweat…Honestly I don’t know how our Jeju tour guide managed to follow us along all the places we went to on the island and never break a sweat…she was even wearing jeans the whole time too! From Songak Mountain (송악산) where we were we went to our hotel for the night. No one was expecting much out of our accommodations considering the overall price for this Jeju trip wasn’t very expensive at all, but luckily to everyone’s surprise though our hotel passed everyone’s expectations. It was located at a golf club / resort nestled towards the center of the island, but a decent distance away from Jeju city. Regardless of where the place was though the rooms were 3 times the size of an average dorm room and were air-conditioned!
Wednesday was sort of a short day; we were first taken to the April 3rd Peace Park, a memorial and museum dedicated to the tragic events that occurred on Jeju island shortly after the Korean war, there thousands of Jeju natives were killed, estimated almost 20 thousand. From there we were taken on a nature walk through a holy forest, which was very nice to look at however considering we were almost immediately taken to a meal and then Sunrise Peak which we were encouraged to climb the 500 steps to the top, I could have gone without. Unfortunately at Sunrise Peak I simply did not have the energy in me, especially after the day before, to climb to the top, so I stayed behind at the bottom and looked through some of the shops. After Sunrise Peak our itinerary was technically finished for the day, however our guides I suppose felt they needed to add a little more to the day so we went to a few beaches and relaxed, and I got a few nice pictures there.
Thursday was our last day, and our flight was to leave at 3:20, so we only had a few things we could do. We first went to a fascinating cliff side that had hexagonal rock formations that were caused by volcanic activity, and then to a Chinese style circus. It always amazes me the kind of things that happen at a circus, like 5 motorcycles driving inside a giant metal cage ball, or people using their feet to essentially juggle other people like they would with a table or giant ball. Perhaps the most interesting, though not very action packed, stop was a small detour to a mysterious road on Jeju. The reason it’s a mysterious is because when you stop your car and put it into neutral, or lay a bottle down on the road horizontally, it will begin to roll up the slant of the hill, rather than backwards down the hill. If you stand on the road and walk backwards and forwards with the road, you can actually feel walking up the road is easier than going back down it. Our tour guide said that Jeju had called some scientists out to the area to try to figure out the phenomenon, but no one has been able to figure it out. Our last meal on the island was 삼계탕, or chicken soup. Only reason I bring this up is because it was a soup…on a hot and humid day. And in the restaurant they put us all together in a big room and closed all the doors…and forgot to turn on the air conditioning. Never mind the fact that you have to wrestle with your soup to get all the bones out but most of us were sweating in our seats just trying to eat it. I was outta there as fast as I could get, and found the nearest fan to cool off. It was a good soup though.
From there we were taken back to the airport for another 50 minute flight back into Seoul, were taken back to the Yonsei campus to get back the luggage we had initially checked in, and were driven to the dorms most of us were staying in for the rest of our time in Korea. Initially though I couldn’t work the air conditioner or the internet, and spent the next day trying to configure it all. I also discovered that despite having studied almost 2 full years of Korean that I am incapable of reading a washing machine or dryer.
Since then I’ve been struggling to learn how to blog, and because of that it’s been quite a while since my first post, and I apologize for that. Luckily the time since last Thursday and now when I’m finishing up this post nothing much has happened other than student orientation and the Korean placement test. I am a bit nervous about how I did especially since I feel I did a lot worse at the speaking portion than I did at the writing and reading sections, but wherever I am placed I know I will still learn a lot and be able to practice plenty of Korean.
This has been a very long post so I will end it here for now. I don’t have much planned in terms of big events for the next week, but come the 12th I’m trying to get a group together to visit Lotte World, a massive indoor theme park just 40 some minutes away on the subway.
안녕히 계세요! (Bye!)