That’s right, it’s free. Wait, what’s free, you say? A three-for-one weekend blog post, that’s what! I know, can’t contain your excitement. Me either. Lovers and friends, it’s been an eventful while since my last post. I have three weekends on Jeju Island to catch you up on, so here we go.
Sept 6/7: Birthdays and Brie at the Hyatt
Two weekends ago, a few of the dons and I, we’ll call this group the Weekenders, left campus for a little luxury and Sarah’s surprise birthday celebration at the Hyatt Resort on the southwest side of the island, not too far from where we live/work. Jess (another don) had a friend visiting from Canada who luckily had travel points and a big heart and provided the luxurious location for our staycation. (Thanks Joe!) We learnt how to play a new card game, Coup, a favourite of Jess’ friends back home. We sang happy birthday, Sarah blew out candles, and we immersed ourselves in the practice of some Korean traditions. A few of the traditions we partook in were:
- Don’t decline the first drink (otherwise you’re a Debbie Downer)
- Never pour your own drink
- Hold the bottle with two hands when pouring for someone older
- Hold your own glass with two hands when someone older pours your drink
Personally, two of the best parts of the evening were the slices of Gouda and Brie on my plate. Tasty, quality cheese is not something I’ve come across yet. Between our cafeteria’s options and the plastic cheese slices I’ve been able to source at the store, it’s scarce. I was much too excited for those little creamy delights. To finish our evening, we went to Monkey Beach, a glow-in-the-dark bar, complete with a basketball shooting competition (yes, I partook), jump rope, and a 10m slide and ball pit. Ouf. Being that it was a Sunday evening, we pretty much had the place to ourselves except for a few American military folk on vacation and a handful of Koreans. Fun indeed.
The next day, Monday, we lounged poolside, relaxing and enjoying every minute. My skin sizzled and fried. Once again my Italian genes went into hiding…and I may have forgotten to put on sunscreen in my haste to lie in the warmth. Oops! We ordered pizza and fries and nothing remotely resembling cafeteria food. Life was good. Actually, life was great because I got to Skype my grandparents and they’re the cutest, most wonderful beings. I was tickled pink to connect with them.
Sept 13/14: Camping at Iho Tewoo Beach
The second Jeju weekend, the Weekenders and I went on a bus adventure to camp on a beach. I use the term “camp” loosely, because although the pictures may seem like we’re on a remote beach (thank you, InstaLifeFilter), the main road is right behind us, as are convenience stores, public toilets, cars and the like. Despite these cropped out details, I’m still chalking it up as my first camping experience. We slept in a tent and that’s what matters…right? If I were really pushing the envelope, I might even say we were “roughing it” since no pillows cushioned our tender heads from the sandy ground. Wilderness buffs, I am knocking on your doors to join your woodsy nature-loving team.
Once our toes touched the sand we snapped pictures to our hearts’ content as the sun went down and the tide went out on Iho Tewoo Beach. Known for its 2 horse-shaped lighthouses, locals scoff at this beach, which is close to the airport, calling it a dump. While it wasn’t the cleanest or prettiest of Jeju’s beaches we’ve visited so far, it wasn’t horrible and we enjoyed our time there. I loved how calming it was to fall asleep to the sound of the waves. We had the beach to ourselves at night since we didn’t camp in the trees at the proper campground. Sans campfire, we improvised a light source in the tent using an empty soju bottle on top of a cell phone flashlight to illuminate our humble abode. The green light was cozy and provided a fun ambiance.
When we ordered side dishes of gimbap for dinner, our servers laughed. We thought it was because we each ordered a side. On the contrary, they were humongous. I don’t think any of us finished our food. After that we went to this awesome jazz café called Joazzi (“I like you”). The owner, a Korean who had lived in the States, was friendly and spoke English with us, answering questions and telling us about his shop. I suggest anyone who’s in the area to check it out. At night I took the opportunity to fiddle with my DSLR a little more and hunkered down for a while, making a tweak here and a capturing a snap there. One day I’ll know what I’m doing with it. For now, I know basic functions, but it’s still mostly trial and error. If you have any photography tips, I’ll gladly listen and learn!
The next day we took our time getting the day going, had “breakfast” at the CU (7/11, like), visited yer man at Joazzi (the others needed their coffee fix) and went for a brief swing in a hammock before taxiing back to campus. Sidenote: I just watched 10 minutes of The Guard, hence my slight slide into Irishspeak if yer confused, like. Also, if you haven’t seen the fil-lim, do. Did I say I was missing Ireland? The pier at the beach felt a tad like Howth too.
Sept 20/21: Wonang Falls
This past Sunday the Weekenders left to explore the outdoors again, this time north in Wonang Falls, Donnaeko Valley. The weather has been absolutely perfect the past 4-5 weeks since the humidity broke. If my heaven had weather, this would be it – zero humidity, warm but not too hot during the day, and cozy at night.
The path to the falls was through a forest on a beautiful wooden boardwalk and down some fairly steep steps. We saw a sidewinder, which was neat except for one of our crew with a learned snake phobia. Just the right amount of people were there when we arrived. We almost had the falls to ourselves for the last half hour or so, except for a few Koreans and some guys in the air force from New Zealand. The rocks were huge, smooth, rounded, and white, charming us to crawl over them. I felt like a kid as I scuttled on all fours around those bodacious boulders and felt all anxiety wash away. The one thing I didn’t do was swim, which is odd considering I love water. Come to think of it, not once have I swam since I moved, despite living on an island. Time to change that!
That’s it for now. Bed time for me, for I supply teach grade 2 in the morning. Thanks for reading!