October 26, 2009

What happens when you "just wing it"
Plan A: Go to Jeju for the weekend
How plan A went was Caitlyn, Ilaria, Paola, Leigh, Lieke and I were going to fly to Jeju an island for the weekend. What we were told to do was get to the airport and buy tickets there because they were cheap and easy to get. This is a false statement for anyone who wants to go to Jeju.

Woke up Friday morning 3:55am, I was alright with it because I knew that even though I was waking up that early I wouldn't have to endure a painful workout. We got taxis, a miracle it seemed, and took them to Gimpo the taxis were less than $20 which was pretty awesome. (This is to the Gimpo airport not Inchon) and when my taxi arrived with Caitlyn and Ilaria we were dropped off at the departures gate. That was good except it was the international departures. rats. So we go outside and see the domestic departures terminal, it was off in the distance so we decided to walk. We started, then the sidewalk disappeared so we stayed on the side lane, it was pretty thick at first but then it got thinner and thinner until it was also gone. That was when we were on a busy ramp. Decided it was probably a bad idea for us to continue. Flagged down a taxi that took us maybe the 500m to the domestics terminal. he wasn't too happy but oh well! This was where we found Paola, Leigh and Lieke. Turns out every flight was booked.

Extremely depressed and tired we decide to go back to CJ sleep for a few more hours then regroup and decide what to do next.

A few hours later... We meet and Leigh and Lieke decide they want to go to Buson. Ilaria, Paola, Caitlyn and I decide to go "camping" in saraksan.

Plan B: We found the bus terminal and bus to take to Sokcho where we would then have to take a local bus to Saraksan's national park where our motel was.
We go to the bus terminal and buy tickets. Our bus was for 4pm since I hadn't checked the time in a while I was a little concerned. Caitlyn assured we we would have plenty of time until I looked up and saw a clock that read, literally, 3:59. EXTREMELY concerned. we were ushered magically by these officials to our bus that was just leaving, literally moving when we got to it and got on. Somewhat relaxed we took the bus for the 3 hour ride to Sokcho.

At Sokcho it was dark out so we couldn't see anything really. We knew it was a fishing town but we couldn't see the harbor or anything. We were trying to figure out what local bus would take us to Saraksan when a VERY VERY helpful nice man took us to our bus stop. We sat there for 25 minutes until our bus came. Got on, still didn't really know where we were supposed to get off. Lucky for us our bus driver overheard us talking and stopped at the International Youth Hostel. We got out and went into the hostel. Everything was dark outside but we could see the mountains and hear what we thought was a river. Inside we asked for a room, he took us to one and the girls we were with decided they wanted to check the next motel to see what their rooms were like. They came back happy and said we should stay there, when we went to the motel it was cool because there were 2 bathrooms, a queen sized bed and heated floors with a little kitchenette. Caitlyn and I wanted to do the traditional Korean sleeping on the floor which was nice and comfy because it was warm and we had nice bedding. That night we got pizza at a local place, the Italian girls (Ilaria and Paola) said it was better than pizza in France, which I thought was interesting. We went back to the hotel room after a nice dinner and went to sleep.

We woke up and the day was gorgeous! We walked down the street to the National Park (it was a long way down the street) and we got there and paid for some tickets.
At the National Park there was an abundance of ascetically pleasing features. This includes a huge Buddha, A temple, waterfalls and prayer caves. We hiked up this mountain and in the mountain there was a cave that was for buddhist praying. It was really cool and pretty far. After that we saw a bunch of friends from Korea University including: Luuk and his cousin Albert, Mi-ae, Bastian, Aneesa, Ana etc. That was fun and random. After the prayer cave we went on a cable car up to the top of the highest mountain where there was a Korean flag. The views were great, we could see the Buddha from there! that's how big he was. Then after the cable car ride we went to the waterfalls. At the waterfalls we were ambushed by a pack of chipmunks so we made friends and I fed some! No I don't have rabies. The park was fun because I had 2 conversations (me answering a question) In korea. They were both about where I was from but I was extremely EXTREMELY proud of myself.

After a long, 15+km of hiking we walked back to our motel packed and got on a bus back to Sokcho. This was a very VERY full bus. Thankfully it filtered out enough so by the end we all had seats. The bus driver kindly directed us to where our hotel was located (right by the bus terminal for Seoul, convenient I know.) We walked to our hotel to find it to be extremely sketchy but hilarious at the same time. The hallway had blue lights! it was terrifying. We also had to sleep in beds, sigh. After putting our stuff down we walked around Sokcho (once again in the dark) and found a raw fishmarket on the pier. There were also lights in the Ocean that Caitlyn read are used to attract squid. That was cool but if we hadn't known what the lights were that kept mysteriously appear I might have been extremely terrified. We walked down a long way and really didn't want to attempt communicating with the raw fish restaurants. We talked to some locals who were interested in talking in English. Also some kids jump roping who really liked saying "HI!" We finally found the restaurant that we had passed earlier and I told Caitlyn the writing on it meant "vegetarian friendly" (I had no idea but it was funny) and went in. The whole family was sitting in it and then immediately cleared out but happily when they found out we wanted to eat there. There was only one thing we could get and having the menu be in Korean and with my limited Korean knowledge we ended up getting it. Turned out to be this really good rice stuff and she also brought out a fish. The fish was fine, had fun eating it because you had to use chopsticks and take it straight from the spine. Overall a great dinner. The woman cooking kept coming in and showing us how to eat it.

After a long day we were all tired and went back to the hotel to sleep.

Caitlyn and I woke up at 7:10 so we could walk to the beach in the morning and see what it actually looked like. The view was very nice. We went on a pavillion and looked out at the sea, saw another pier with fishermen on it, the lighthouse, lots of people hanging up fish to dry on things like stop signs, fences and just rope. We made it to the beach and I found BLUE SEAGLASS!!!!! it was really cool.

We took the 9:30 bus to Chonchan. We took a taxi to the Ethiopian coffee shop where I had some blended Ethiopian coffee. Very nice we had a good view to the rivers. After that we rented bikes (leaving our stuff in the man's car. haha we still have everything). We took the bikes to the ferry that took us to an Island where people could camp on. We rode around the island on a path enjoying the fall colors and mountains. We enjoyed a lunch outside and went back to return the bikes where there was a marathon going on. Very fun. After returning the bikes we rented a swan boat where I managed to understand we could have it for 40minutes if we paid 10,000 won. (another proud moment). The swan boats were fun but Ilaria and I had to pedal Caitlyn and Paola around after SO much walking around and biking. Needless to say I was pretty tired at the end of the day.

We got on a 5:10 bus to Seoul which took 3 hours!! (it's only supposed to be an hour and a half) but the traffic was terrible. We joked that we should have just taken the bikes home. We finally got to Seoul and had a nice Korean dinner. After that we took the subway back to Anam and walked the final stretch up the hill to CJ.

What a crazy weekend. Now it's back to classes!

Mom and Elizabeth come soon! :-)

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