A Travellerspoint blog

May 2018

Jeju South Korea-A beautiful place I can't see

Yesterday, I walked out of the hostel for the last time-as I couldn't stay any longer since the hostel was booked. When I looked at the sky, however, I was really hopeful-it was a sunny, warm day. I could see mountain peaks in the distance. I was even considering returning to the volcano I had went to the day before in hopes of seeing the full view.

But first, I checked out of the hostel, took a bus 10 minutes to the airport, where I boarded another bus. The new hostel was at another point on the island, 1 1/2 hours away. As the bus drove down highways and past downtowns, as the day before, the sky grew gray and it got foggy out. Then it started drizzling. As the bus got closer to my stop, many stops we're made at various luxury hotels. Finally, the bus reached the 22nd stop, where, I got off. i walked down the hill and in the rain, found the hostel. I was a few hours from check-in time, so I left my bag there, had lunch of noodles, which we're good but I'm also getting somewhat tired of, and then walked down the hill towards a waterfall called the Cheonjiyeon Waterfall, which was a well-known waterfall here in Jeju. But I figured I would save the waterfall for another day. I headed off in another direction towards a pedestrian-only suspension bridge called the Saeyeongyo Bridge, which I could barely make out in the fog. I crossed the bridge in about 10 minutes-and on to an island called birds island, which was nice and peaceful with a conservation zone, where I walked along a boardwalk viewing the ocean, and pools I could just barely see through the fog. Although it was foggy and raining lightly, a lot of people we're on the walkway. I ran into groups of school kids. I enjoy running into them because they like to test their English on me by saying "How-low" "Where you are frommm?" One girl asked me how old I was an i said 48 and she couldn't believe it-she said I looked younger. i am not sure if she is right but i sure haven't felt like I looked good over the last few years. One girl showed me a snail she caught.

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I walked back to the hostel and checked in. i looked at the pictures on the wall-beautiful shots of the island, with verdant greens, shining yellow flowers, and the ocean with was stunning turquoise-of which made me feel really great since I couldn't see any of that. After that I walked a few blocks for dinner to a seafood restaurant, and found an indoor market I walked around in. Then I went back to the hostel and feel asleep around 9 or 10:00 pm.

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:00 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Jeju Isl-84 year old woman divers and praying to a d__k

Yesterday, I left the hostel early, and took a 1 1/2 hour ride on the bus to the dormant volcano in Jeju, called Seongsan Ilchul-bong. The pictures of the volcano we're absolutely breathtaking-a huge mountain above the beautiful blue seas surrounded by lush greenery, and I was looking forward to seeing it. After the long bus ride, I climbed up a hill and a trail made up of a lot of stairs, and I saw-absolutely nothing. While the weather seemed sunny and warm near the hostel-as the bus continued across the island, the clouds and wind rolled in and it was drizzling. So it turned into a very cloudy day. By the time I got onto the peak, I was surrounded by fog. But i did reach the top, because there we're no more stairs, and I was by a sign that said I reached the top. I decided to stay at the top for a while, in case the clouds lifted and I could see the wonderful view. But after about 1/2 an hour, I was cold and decided to walk down-deciding I could always come back later if I felt like it. At the base of the mountain, there was a Duncan Donuts, so I had a bagel and coffee (there was also a Mcdonalds and Starbucks). IMG_3162.JPGIMG_3164.JPGIMG_3158.JPGIMG_3170.JPGIMG_3183.JPG

After I had Mcdonalds, I took a walk down another path, which led to the sea. Earlier I learned that a woman's divers show was going on. Woman divers' all in the their 70's and 80's, dive for shellfish for up to 7 hours every day without oxygen masks. A sign said that women do it because the men left the island hundreds of years ago, because they didn't want to do this type of work. There is still a show of women, including one who is 84 years old, diving for shellfish. At the beginning, they sang a song and did a short dance (or prayer). Then they all went into the sea to go fishing. Afterr 1/2 an hour (or so), they emerged with loads of something. Some just a seaweed type substance. Another, perhaps, the 84 year old, emerged carrying a huge sack of shellfish on her back on to land. IMG_3333.JPGc2086fc0-5962-11e8-a3f2-cd4a3940226e.JPGIMG_3337.JPG

It was now late in the afternoon, and I next wanted to go to a historic folk village. A worker back at the volcano told me that I could take a bus directly there-when I got to the bus stop-the bus # he told me about didn't exist. So I got on another bus. When I told the driver I wanted to go there-he told me to switch to second bus (after riding his bus for about 1/2 an hour). The bus he wanted me to switch to wouldn't arrive for around another 1 1/2 hours-but I found a bus that seemed to go in that direction, so I got on that bus-got off at a stop, and walked roughly 1 mile. (I saw a sign on the road for the folk village).

The folk village, like many things I tried hard to get to, was somewhat disappointing. The travel guide portrayed it as free and a place where folks still lived in and pigs ran around. This one wasn't free, nobody lived there, and there we're no pigs (just a few cows and horses). For around $11.00 (plus $2.00 for an audio guide), I looked at ancient houses. I did learn some things, like large statues are placed outside homes, that are called grandfathers, that are used for protection again demons (made of lava) there was a phallic-looking statue that folks used to pray for a boy when they we're expecting (also made of lava). I also learned of funeral rituals, and that the outdoor bathroom combined with the pig-pens, as pigs ate human poop, and the combined pig/human poop was used as fertilizer.
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i was at the park until after closing time, I know because a voice on my audio guide gave an abrupt "good bye", and shut off. I left the park around 7:00, and walked to the bus stop where I caught the first bus. First I stopped for dinner at a burger place (I didn't want to spend money on Korean food again, which is expensive)-and it was close to 8:00 by the time I arrived at the bus stop, and dark. I waited for the bus. Taxi drivers tried to offer me rides-but i didn't have much cash in my wallet and just chose the bus. When I asked some kids also at the bus stop if the bus goes to Jeju, he used a phone to tell me (in English)-yes-but it would take a long time. I said i didn't care-since I didn't have any reason to get back soon. I got on the bus after waiting around 10 minutes, and he was ride-it did take a long time. The bus took 1/2 an hour just to get back to the volcano stop I got off at in the morning, and another 1 1/2 hours or so-past dark towns with restaurants, bars and hotels (the terrain of Jeju is sort of similar to Cape Cod or the Keys-sandbars, restaurants, bars and hotels). Finally, around 10:00 pm, I made it back to the hostel.

Posted by DavidPearlman 14:59 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

South Korea-Jejuing on the hop-on hop-off

Yesterday, I awoke early in Jeju. Unlike Seoul, the weather here is great-nice and sunny and hot. I was able to wear my shorts for the first time in a long time. To start the day I got on the hop-on hop-off bus across the street (after breakfast at the hostel of noodles). The ride was nice-and the first stop was a museum. I didn't want to get off at the museum originally, but a lot of people got off at the museum, and the women walking around the bus collecting tickets encouraged me to get off there, so that is what I did.

When I was at the museum-I still couldn't figure out why I was there. It was a beautiful day, and I didn't see a reason to stay indoors. There didn't seem to be a lot to do around there-so I went to a restaurant and had a second breakfast of more noodles, and then caught the next hop-on hop-off bus.

This time I rode the bus a few stops to a large market. I actually needed to buy something-a converter for my computer/phone. The current one I had works with plus that are on a horizontal strip, but not the vertical wall plug in the hostel. So I walked down various isles-found lots of food, and had some tangerine chocolates, and a pancake style snack (I was full), but couldn't find the plug. I went to an underground mall, that looked small-but it had about 100 stores, and still couldn't find a plug. Finally, when I walked outside, I found a pedestrian mall, and here i found a wall plug. As a matter after buying it-I found a street vendor with a better one-so now I had two.
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i got on the hop-on hop-off bus again, and took it to a more scenic area-a suspension bridge called Yongyeon pond with a gazebo near the beach.
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Then I took a walk along the path to a road the ran along the coast, and I saw the coast, which was filled with large black lava stones from the dormant volcano. I kept walking in the late afternoon, as the sun was going down, and watched the sunset. Then I an expensive dinner ($15.00-a lot more then I usually spend on meals), and had some good fresh seafood. I waited a long time for a bus to go back home (the hop-on hop-off busses had long stopped running). Eventually, a bus came-but went back to the airport instead of the bus station (which was near the hostel), got on another bus, and got home. After I got back, I saw I had an extra wall-plug, so I actually bought two I didn't need.
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Posted by DavidPearlman 15:27 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

South Korea-From the Lazy Fox to the Jeju

Yesterday, I checked out of the Lazy Fox Den Hostel in Seoul. The Lazy Fox Den is a fun hostel where everyone is a lot younger than I am. The check-in is open from 8:30 until 11:00, and then everyone goes out. It was a fun place to stay, and they encouraged me to come back next time I am in Seoul.

I went to Gimpo airport, a small airport, and caught the flight to Jeju island, which is supposed to be a "Korean Hawaii", with beautiful spots, volcanoes, etc. Ordinarily I prefer big cities, but I could use a break, (I figured out I have traveled on 9 different Metro systems since I started travelling less then 3 months ago). After the one hour flight-Gimpo felt nice, it was warmer as Seoul was cold.
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i went to the hostel, which was close to the bus station, and learned laundry was free but the dryer cost money, about $2.00. Since I have been washing my clothes in the shower and drying them outside on a clothes line, it was nice to have regular laundry. The washing machine is on the roof, on the 4th floor. So I washed my clothes and put the clothes in the machine next door, which I assumed was the dryer. When I returned half an hour later, I learned it wasn't a dryer-but another washing machine. So my clothes we're washed twice. I then learned the dryer was in the basement. So I had to take the clothes down 4 flights of stairs from the roof the the basement. I also learned that unlike in Seoul, the staff doesn't speak that much English here.

But after roughly 2 hours of washing my clothes twice, I did have freshly cleaned and washed clothes.

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:15 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Seoul-South Korea-Who The F__K is Buddha?

Yesterday, I awoke after a good night sleep at the hostel for the last full day in Seoul. I had breakfast as usual, during which I was speaking to a woman who was checking out about what she did the day before. She mentioned she attended the Buddhist festival, which had bands and people dancing, and she said it was soooo much fun. I was indeed jealous, as I spent the evening trying (and failing) to hold on to my umbrella in the streets near the hostel.

The good news is (A) The weather cleared up, so it was no longer raining, and (B) the festival was continuing on for yesterday (Sunday), so I decided to to. The festival is actually called the Lotus Lantern Festival, and dates back 1000 years in Korea, and marks Buddha's coming into the world.

Going to the festival took a ride about 40 minutes on the metro to the largest Buddhist Temple in Seoul, called Jogyesa. The temple was adorned with lanterns and paper flags of many colors. In front was a street fair encompassing many blocks. I walked along the street fair, which included vendors selling food, primarily healthy and vegetarian. I ate some of their food. There we're also Buddhist tents from various countries, including Thailand, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. There we're tents for meditation and yoga, giving demonstrations. I was dragged into a yoga demonstration tent, and I was very stiff, for not doing yoga-plus since the instructor's commands we're in Korean, i couldn't understand them. She kept saying words like "Joshipoo", or something like that.

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in between all the tents, was a large dance stage, where different Buddha traditions we're shown, including group dances, and acts with large strange-looking folks dressed as dogs.
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I stayed there until roughly 3:00. Today was the last day in Seoul, and the place I wanted to go was the Seoul Wall, so I took the metro 3 stations and went to the Seoul Wall (sort of like a great wall of China but around Seoul). I walked maybe 1/2 a block up the wall, and took some pictures-so at least I saw it.
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Then I went back to the festival-there was supposed to be a parade to conclude the festival, but first, around 6:00, there was a dance off between teams who looked about High-School age. They danced off to various hip-hop songs and other genres, including ones with lyrics that we're very non-Buddhist like, such as "Show me your fuckin pose", and a grunge version of "Living Next Door to Alice" (Who the fuck is Alice?"). Nobody else seemed to see the irony that these we're played at a Buddhist festival.
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After what i think was 1/2 an hour-the parade started. Various teams of folks holding different types off lanterns (in different shapes, some shaped like hearts) did certain dance routines. Leading the parade was a giant dragon. The dragon would periodically move up and down. I followed the parade up the street. Huge crowds of seemingly hundreds, maybe thousands of people we're watching. I walked along side the parade as it made various turns throughout the city.

At the end of the parade was a huge stage, and large screens showing the stage was being filmed (Macy's Thanksgiving Day style). On the stage, the dancers did various acts.

After the acts, all of the dancers did a group dance together, and then the Master of Ceremonies asked everyone (including spectators), to get on the floor and form a conga line, and dance Korean party music, and fast paced dance music. The event turned into a dance party, with people of all ages participating, right on a corner of downtown Seoul.

After the party was over-I took the metro back to the area around the hostel, and ate various street foods for dinner.

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Posted by DavidPearlman 16:18 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

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