Thursday, May 29, 2014

Windy Hill and Camellia Island (바람의 언덕과 지심도)

Continued adventures on Geoje Island! The first half of my weekend wasn't so smooth (see previous post about transportation fails), but I had a blast spending Saturday night eating good barbecue, playing Cards Against Humanity -- the most hilarious and inappropriate card game -- and falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the beach.

On Sunday morning, my friends and I headed out onto the peninsula to visit Windy Hill (바람의 언덕). Supposedly it's very windy there, but I didn't feel so much as a breeze. Jeju Island is infinitely windier, that's for sure. But Windy Hill has an adorable little windmill at the top of it. Actually, it's not very little at all. But it sure is picturesque. The seven of us took photos, just like the hundreds of other tourists there, but we also turned a few heads as we filmed a few short segments for a music video we're making...
From left to right: Carly, Anna, Amy, Neal, Rachel, and another Andrew, at Windy Hill in Geoje.
After Windy Hill, we taxied up to Jangseungpo and got tickets for a ferry to go to Camellia Island (지심도). A few scenes of a recent mega-hit Korean drama called My Love from the Star (별에서 온 그데) were filmed on this island while its camellia flowers were in full bloom. Of course, my K-drama obsessed friends Amy and Anna were beyond thrilled to be setting foot on the island that Kim Soo-hyun pretended was his own alien planet.

Well, 지심도 really is quite pretty! And although the skies were threatening to rain, it was cool enough that a brisk walk along the secluded and forested paths was more refreshing than exertive. I believe that nobody actually lives on the island; some people run shops and restaurants for daily tourists, but today it seemed almost deserted. All the better for us to film some extra scenes for our music video with nobody around to accidentally walk into a beautiful backdrop!
Our small ferry to Camellia Island. Side note: there are no trash cans on the island at all! All trash must be carried down to the boat each evening to be taken back to the mainland.
Well, there isn't much else to do on 지심도 than 산책 and look at the ocean or the camellia trees (동백나무), which weren't in bloom, so after a few hours, we headed back down to the pier to wait for our boat. The round-trip fare is ₩12,000 and boats leave about every hour until around 3pm. And that's all for Camellia Island!
Fulbright friends on Camellia Island!
It was nearing 5pm by the time we returned to Jangseungpo, so I decided it was about time to head back to Changwon. After grabbing a quick snack at Lotteria (and realizing to my amusement that it was my first time eating at a Lotteria since Fulbright Orientation... way back in August 2012!), I hopped on a bus home.

To my great surprise, I ran into two students on the bus when it stopped at Tongyeong! YJ, who lives in Geoje, and HY, a first-year who lives in Tongyeong. I was very happy to see YJ, who never shies away from talking with me and also asks me really interesting questions about life in the US. "Teacher, in Korea, the curriculum at Seoul National University and Geoje University are actually the same; they use the same textbooks and the professors aren't necessary better teachers at SNU. So it's only the reputation of the school that makes a difference. Is this so in the United States?" ... What a conversation starter, huh?

When we arrived in Changwon at 7:30, the three of us took a taxi back to school. Students have to return to their dorms by Sunday evenings at 9pm. Since we had some time to kill, I invited them both to dinner. HY had already eaten, but YJ accepted, and we got chicken at the local chicken joint, cleverly named ChiKing (치킹). Fried chicken fit for royalty. I am sure that this is the place my students call when they break the school rules against ordering takeout from their dorm rooms at night.

Anyway, I'm very pleased with the trajectory of my mood this weekend. Yes, it started off kind of low, but the steady increase went exponential by Sunday evening. Treating one of my favorite students to dinner ended it on a high note. I wish I could do this every weekend!
A view of the ocean from Camellia Island.

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