Monday, October 03, 2005

Home from the Island

I just got home from my long weekend on a guided tour of Jeju-do, a popular Korean holiday destination in the very South. It was cloudy the whole time. But I had a very good time.

The trip was organized but some guy who is an English teacher/recruiter, so, 75% of the people on the trip were from his home town of Windsor and knew each other. My friend Dragos invited me and then he ended up not being able to go, so Darce, Sara and I didn't know too many people. I expected it to be mostly a beach weekend but I was far from correct, which is fine with me. I felt like I was back on Birthright or my grade 8 trip to Quebec City, sitting on a bus, and getting off at tourist spot after tourist spot. Mischief at night. That kind of thing. We were a bunch of twenty-something kids. It felt weird. Not only because we're not kids, but also because we were like the reverse of those busloads of Asian people at places like Niagara Falls and Canada's Wonderland that you see walking around in sun visors. We were a busload of Canadian people walking around with digital cameras and rolled up jeans.

Anyway.

We did get to see a lot of beautiful things and I'm going to share them with you.
The flight from Incheon took only about one hour and we landed in Jeju at six o'clock or so. We met our tourguide Jeff and jumped on the bus, heading to this place called Dragon Rock or something like that. The rock was only so impressive so I'll show you with picture of the coast instead which I think looks nifty with the colours. As the sun set, bright, almost halogen lights, appeared, scattering the horizon. Apparently they were shrimp boats. They gave the impression that there was an entire city just across the (Pacific) Ocean. I wonder if such bright lights attract shrimp.

All the tourist attractions close at eight so we headed to our 'accomodations' and found our rooms. I was in a room with four other people which was just fine by me. The room was very nice; wooden floors, two seperate areas, two bathrooms, a balcony with a beautiful view including the ocean, but only one bed. D'Arcy ended up splitting the bed with our new friend Cara. I took a mat on the floor. It didn't bother me at all because I'm a mover in bed and would rather not have to worry about bothering someone, and because I had a bad case of pussy pink eye. "Hey, nice to meet you, I'm the devil." What a great first impression. We ate a dinner of sam gyup sal, which I've had a few times now and every time it has been way too fatty for my taste. It's a thick cut of pork, usually cut into pieces about the length of my pinky. The fat takes up the area from the tip to the second joint. I'm talking fatty.

Then everyone got drunk.

When does drinking to excess for no other reason than to drink itself cease to be a prime concern in situations like these? I felt like we were away from our parents for the night so we might as well get shitfaced. Maybe we were away from our soul-sucking jobs. I don't know.

I couldn't sleep so well the following morning so I woke up before the alarm and went for a walk around the 'hotel'.


Then we ate a breakfast of tofu and outher things shigae (stew) which I liked but most did not, and other typical side dishes. Rice and kimchi too, of course.

The first stop of the day was the bonsai tree museum where there were lots of lovely, and here comes the surprise, bonsai trees. We used to have a bonsai tree that died. These ones were all healthy and some were fruit bearing. Wow!

Here is D'Arcy and I with a bowing bonsai tree. Isn't it incredible? Fascinating! Amazing! These trees are very old and yet very small. Yup.

Stop number two of the day was a hike up a mountain. It was a very beautiful view of the coastline and the water. If most of what I saw in Osaka was views of the city from a high point, most of what I saw in Jeju was beautiful views of the coastline. Here's a picture or two, but be sure to check out my flickr site for more if you so desire.


I think at this point we had lunch and then went to a beach, which was beautiful, but sadly we hadn't been warned that we wouldn't be returning to the hotel so I had no bathing suit. The sand was probably artifically soft and colourful. The water was blue and surfable. I waded and sat. It was cloudy anyway... We saw ajummas (older women) infamous for their diving ways. Apparently this skill goes back into history. They dive under the water for as long as three minutes searching for I don't even know what. Can you believe it?

The next place we went was a temple; the biggest temple in all of Asia! What, the biggest in all of Asia?? Here on the small Korean island of Jeju? Is that even possible?


Pretty beautiful, isn't it? I took many nice pictures of the temple and was in quiet awe of it as I padded barefoot through the interior. Then I found out that it's only seven years old. It was probably built only so Korea could boast about having the biggest temple in all of Asia. My enthusiasm vanished.

We ate dinner in a flying UFO and then went back to the accomodations where I crashed hard and fast. It was a long day.

And this is a long post so I'll finish off the trip and my impressions of it tomorrow. Happy Rosh Hashana to those who celebrate.

2 Comments:

At October 04, 2005 9:43 PM , Blogger Blake said...

Don't believe what Koreans, or tour guides from Windsor, tell you.

Have you ever heard of Angkor Wat in Cambodia? It's only *slightly* larger.

 
At October 06, 2005 3:18 AM , Blogger Jessica said...

Hey, my tour guide was "jeff" from Jeju, thank you very much. Korean as Korean can be.

I have heard of Angor Wat, in fact. And there goes all the hub bub from that temple visit. Dang.

 

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