Journals from Spring and Fall, 2012 South Korea
View from my hostel terrace
Just to start off, let’s recap what’s happened this month. May has been pretty fun packed starting with Children’s day, Akaraka, Historical Museum on the North and South Korea split, Buddha’s Birthday, and then Jeju to end the month with a bang.
So I am pretty sure we talked a bit about Children’s Day and Akaraka so let’s start with the Historical Museum. The museum is about 3 floors tall and starts from the prehistoric times in Korea until the expected future. It was a very intriguing museum that showed all the battles and the different weapons that they used in different times of the Korean history. But the most interesting thing about the whole museum was what Korea believed their future military would look like. It was basically an exact replica of what the United States SWAT team looks like except with the Korean flag instead of the United States flag. I would post a picture but this system only allowed me to pick one picture to upload. But for sure ask me about it sometime if you get the chance.
The next weekend was Buddha’s birthday. Although I didn’t celebrate it myself from what I saw and what my friends have told me about the event is that Koreans just consider the day as another day off from the working year if they are not Buddhist. But for those who practice Buddhism, they go to the temple to worship Buddha on this day of birth and then celebrate by eating lots of food together; I feel that at least some of them are going because there is free food. But overall for me it was another day to experience Korea and to finally get some studying done.
Then came Jeju! Jeju is an island off the south coast of the Korean peninsula. It is known for its beautiful scenery and delicious chocolates. I went with one other friend and we stayed in a hostel on the south side of the island called Seagwipo. That part of Jeju is known for its beautiful landscape. The first day I went to the Manjanggul Cave that featured a lava pillar that is apparently the biggest recorded. I then traveled up the road about ten minutes to try the infamous maze. They say it is enjoyable for all ages, but in reality it took me 3 minutes to get through and in only one try. But the interesting part is the story behind the creation and architecture of the maze. It combines many symbols of Korea into this one maze like a horse’s head and the yin and yang symbol. Afterwards I did a little bit of shopping and relaxed on the terrace (photographed in the picture above). The next day I went to Sunrise Peak which was a beautiful hill that overlooked a lot of the island. We were able to see our next destination U-do island and traveled there next. The ferry ride is only 15 minutes but what was fascinating was the style of the ferry boat. Unlike United States ferries where there are chairs and tables that line the inside of the ferry, in Korea the ferry is just a big open space with designated areas to take off your shoes (very Asian). So interesting and made the ferry ride that much more interesting. At U-do Island we were able to rent an ATV that we could drive around the island to see all the hotspots around the island. There was a light house, some divers, a couple beaches, and some amazing food shops to try. We ended the day super fulfilled by what we were able to accomplish. The next few days we were with some friends who were on the other side of the island and we traveled in Seagwipo. We got a lot done, we went to two waterfalls, a cliff, a beach, and some delicious Jeju food (there is also Jeju only soju).The next day we went to a church in Jeju City that had the only English speaking ministry. It was one hour long and had great worship! Then off to the mountain we went for a hike. Originally we were going to go to Mt. Hallasan, which is the biggest on Jeju, but they closed the gates at 2pm because it takes 8 hours to hike up and down. They wouldn’t even let us in to do the 1.5 hour long trail that they had. So we went to another one called Sarabong which is actually one mountain that was split in two over time. At the bottom of the mountain is the Jeju National Museum. So we stopped by there as well. For dinner we were lucky to have someone show us a local restaurant that serves all you can eat seafood for about 20 dollars. So delicious! There were some crazy looking things to eat though! It was a good end to our trip to Jeju.