|Plush horses of Jeju!|
Whew, a solid week of travel really knocked me out! Since Monday of last week, I've moved around via bike, bus, plane, ferry, rental car, hippie car, subway, tram, local train, regional train, bullet train, and even a sideways elevator; I've ventured across mountains, across and above seas, and to an uninhabited island, stopping at ten cities along the way. And the first thing I did when I arrived back in Changwon was go to taekgyeon practice.
So now I'm exhausted. Fortunately, I have a solid week to refresh and look back on a great week that really made my vacation seem like a vacation before flying off somewhere else. Part 1: Jeju Island! I went to meet with a professor for consultation about my Castleberry research project but also spent some time with Fulbright friends.
On Monday morning, I got a sorely needed haircut, cleaned up my apartment, and then left for the airport. As usual, it took about a minute to get my boarding pass and get through security; though I was hours early, I passed the time with a book, The Professor and the Madman, by Simon Winchester, which was gifted to me by a good friend. It was late afternoon and getting dark when I arrived on the island, but I found my way to my friend Vika's apartment in Jeju City and we caught up, her telling me awesome stories from her recent trip to Laos.
|A 돌하르방 at the entrance to JNU|
In the afternoon, Vika and I took a bus headed for the sleepy city on the south side of the island, Seogwipo. This express bus cut right through the island, climbing dizzily through the mountain roads for twenty minutes until we were surrounded by snow, then barreling down the other side for twenty minutes until we saw the beach again. It was an odd journey. In Seogwipo, we walked along the Olle Trails for some scenic views and visited the Jeongbang Falls (정방폭포), the only waterfall in Asia that falls directly into the ocean! Although it was cloudy out, it was still quite a sight, and even though it was the middle of winter, there were plenty of tourists, especially Chinese.
(An aside: a ticket to see the falls costs two bucks normally, but youth aged 24 or under can get in for one. When I saw this information at the ticketing booth, I realized that, it now being 2014, Vika and I, as well as everyone in the world born in 1990, were now 25 by the Korean system of age-reckoning. But we went for it anyway and showed our ID cards, and score! We got the half-price tickets.)
|Jeongbang Falls on a cloudy January day.|
|Vika and me at 정방폭포|
For dinner, we went to a popular barbecue restaurant that Kristen has gone to many times before with her school faculty. It's called 새섬갈비 (Saeseom Galbi/BBQ), and it's amazing. The black pork (흑돼지) is so thick, and the side dishes are good. Prices quite reasonable for the portions. I'd definitely go back, but the best part of the dinner, of course, was sharing it with friends.
At the end of the day, Vika and I took the bus back north to Jeju City; flying through winding, dark roads in the rain (no lights except those from passing cars on this terrifying route) was pretty nuts, but our bus driver seemed to know what he was doing. And on Wednesday morning, I left a cold and rainy Jeju to board my flight back to the mainland. Goodbye, Jeju! I'll be back again soon.
|Pure yum. I used to be a vegetarian, but in Korea I'll enjoy a grilled pig any day.|
|Dinner with friends! Left to right: Jessica, Kristen, and Vika, all of whom are going to go on to achieve amazing things. And then there's me. Taken by Taxi.|