Jeju-do For the Islander at Heart
Who doesn't love an island? If you're one of those people, I need a peek into your brain to know why. Just, why?! For me, a tropical island connotes good vibes, relaxation, and heart-smiles. When I'm on an island and it's not tropical, I just think of the fact that I'm surrounded by nothing but water and that freaks me the bleep out. Either way, my mind is taken out of its normal state and I'm forced to think differently.
But that's not what this post is about. Today I'm not divulging the philosophical ramblings that cause the far-away look that can sometimes be seen in my chocolate brown eyes. Today's post is about my recent trip to Jeju Island - famously known as the 'Hawaii of Korea'. I haven't yet been to Hawaii, so I really can't compare, but I do have to say that Jeju did not disappoint.
When I plan a trip, I like to choose a place where transportation will be easily accessible and comprehensive. Whether I'm walking, taking a bus, taxi-like-service, or subway, I want to know I won't be stranded. Now, I ventured to Jeju using a for-foreigner-by-foreigner tour service called Enjoy Korea. I'd used them before on a day trip to Geoje Island to participate in a 2018 Holi Hai festival (bright, dirty fun!), so I knew they were reliable. Because of this, I didn't have to worry about transportation to or throughout the island. I've heard and seen from other people, though, that it may be best to rent a car while exploring the beauty that is Jeju-do. The island is much bigger than I expected - I visited Antigua in the past and remember it being only 30-45 minutes to cross the island and back, so Jeju was a huge shock for me.
Some folks felt that we spent more time traveling then we did actually on the ground, at the sites. Though I don't really mind extensive movement, I won't lie and say we didn't travel a lot. I had to go from Changwon to Busan (1 hr), then from Busan to the ferry station (2.5 hrs) then from the ferry to the island (2.5 hrs) and within the island, the shortest distance on a bus was 40 minutes. Best believe there was a lot of sleeping taking place.
After we arrived to the actual island, though, the first stop was Seongsan Ilchulbong. I was told that Seongsan Ilchulbong literally, pretty much means 'one can see the sunrise from this mountain'. I'm definitely paraphrasing. Thanks for your understanding. As you can see from the photos below. the view was g-g-g-gorgeous and, I have to say, totally worth the 6 million-step climb it took to get up there. My friends, I will be transparent in saying I'd eaten Mickey D's before visiting this site, so I was really, very, truly happy to work off all that crap, haha (my health is very important to me!). Please allow me to also mention that I visited Jeju on a rainy weekend, so it was amazing to see this mountain on a sunny-but-not-too-hot day.
The next site I want to talk about is Loveland. It is said to be the kinkiest theme park on earth, and that I think it was. Picture all things sex related, and then take some hallucinogenics. That's basically what Loveland looked like. I think my time was made even more fun because one of the organizers of our trip challenged us to take the best, kinkiest(?), most interesting photos to win a spot on an upcoming tour. I just like challenges so I was game. This was a fun time to bond with the new friends I'd made and really just have a ball laughing at all the dirty things people definitely do at home but try to act like is new to them (let's not lie to ourselves people - that's the worst kind of lie). What was also funny was seeing Korean people interact with the art - basically just standing in front of a statue and displaying a peace sign. Meanwhile, we foreigners are climbing the pieces, jumping and humping, and having a grand ole' time. I kind of felt like a kid again, with all the colors and shapes around me. There was one thing I noticed though - the lack of representation of average sized bodies. There were plenty of slim, fit women and men shown, and then there were even much larger, caricature-type bodies showcased, but when it came to the everyday, international, average-daverage body, I didn't see any. Now that I think about it, I also didn't see any minuscule penises... hmm. Anywho, Loveland gets a thumbs up from me.
Please enjoy the below photos (NSFW). I have no apologies for posting these (I will not be shamed for finding sex fascinating).
That night, after Loveland, our day tour bus magically transformed into a party bus (loud hip-hop tunes and flashing lights lights), and we made our way to Monkey Beach Bar - essentially an adult playground. I looooooved this. I really did. I'm not a huge clubber or bar-goer. I think it's because I love to shake, wine, and twerk, and the clubs where I'm at aren't, uh, designed for that. In the case of Monkey Beach Bar, I could have been listening to EDM all night ant I wouldn't have known or cared. Beer pong, water slides, a ball pit, and more were at our disposal. Best (or worst, depending on how you look at it) yet, we arrived with 30 minutes left of happy hour. You know what this means! Tequila shots! For half price! There was also a stripper pole girls could climb to the top to ring a bell and receive a free bucket of alcohol (stomach churning as I write and remember this). Okay so I'm abnormally tall and I could reach the bell without climbing. Did I it, though? You're damn right I did!... I had to stop for a minute and laugh to myself. I am a fool, truly. I had a great time though, with the bruises to prove it! I'll leave this section with this helpful hint: don't mix your alcohol. :)
The next and final day, the rain was forecasted to be coming down something serious later in the evening, so our plans changed and we took our last trip to the Cheonjeyeon Waterfalls. As with all of these sites, there were a lot of tourists about, so visiting the waterfalls wasn't really a chance to revel in nature as much as it was a opportunity to take photos and stretch our legs. The falls were still beautiful and breathtaking though! Another thing that took my breath away was seeing one of my students crossing the bridge (4th photo down). I have over 500 kiddos and I could probably recognize 447 of them... and he made the cut! I was so excited, I was about to jump off the damn bridge. He was stunned, with a look on his face that said, "OMG, I actually have to use the shxt she taught me in class. What am I supposed to say?!" Thankfully for him, his daddy did most of the talking. That, however, did not stop him from acting like the big man on campus when I saw him in the cafeteria this week, talkin' bout "I saw Nkem teacher in Jeju!" (*cue side eye* - no I'm just kidding. I definitely bigged him up).
That's it for my trip to Jeju. I'd highly recommend, and you'll probably have an even better time than me if it's not raining and pouring. Let's hope you do!
P.S. I've never been on a cruise ship, but I'm pretty sure this ferry (below) was akin to a small cruise ship, right? I wouldn't know.