Had some time in between the end of summer English camp and the start of the second semester and fate took me to Jeju woooo.
I knew some people that cycled around the whole island (roughly 200km) in four or five days and it sounded like an awesome way to check out Jeju. I missed the feeling of propelling oneself with nothing but some metal, rubber, and the lower extremities. I ended up having to do my first solo trip cause I couldn’t find anyone to go with me for various reasons (*sniff* I have no friends…this blog post from a female solo-traveler brought some motivation)
I purchased the ticket through Eastar Jet (eastarjet.com) following advice from this brief article on visiting Jeju Island. I spent 170,000 won (~$160) for a round-trip ticket during the peak summer season, the other being in the winter, and bought the ticket about three weeks in advance.
Packed, finished with summer camp, and off I go!
I wanted to maxmize my time on the island and booked a ticket for 6:30am, but this ended up causing me more stress than it was worth. I contacted my aunt who lives an hour south east of Seoul proper by subway to see if I could stay the night at her apartment and take the first bus to Gimpo airport. This would have worked out, but as my aunt quickly informed me, the first bus to Gimpo is at 5:30am and it takes at least an hour to get there. I wouldn’t get there in time. Aaaaand cue vacation stress.
I wrack my brain about what to do and eventually Googled my way to the Lazy Bird Guesthouse (hostels are frequently called guesthouses in Korea) near Incheon Airport. I give them a call two days before my flight asking for the cheapest room and shuttle to the airport. 20,000 for a bed in a 6 person bunk-bed room, 5,000 for drop-off and another 5,000 because the flight is early-morning (I suspect the manager’s English is decent, but the conversation was in awkward full-on Konglish). I go to an ATM and transfer the 30,000 to his bank account. Aaaaand end vacation stress…temporarily.
Relieved, I hop on a three-hour bus ride to the Incheon bus terminal, ride the subway about another hour to the guesthouse near ICN, and think I’m all set for Jeju until the house manager asks what time my flight is from ICN. I kindly correct him saying that I’m leaving from Gimpo, not Incheon, to which he responds that he thought I said I was flying from Incheon and that transport to Gimpo would cost 50,000 even by taxi. I begrudgingly think I have no other choice until he asks his wife what time the first subway is in the morning and she quickly concludes that I’ll just enough time to board my flight because its domestic…I’ll just have to walk quickly, or run.
Relieved once again, I take a shower and settle in a bit. I din on some oatmeal and a hard-boiled egg I packed for dinner.
In the kitchen
I meet a middle-aged Russian man and slightly younger French woman. The man had apparently been travelling throughout Korea for the past few weeks (I don’t know what he does for a living) and told me about going to the Yeosu expo to only forgo the lines to drink vodka and eat caviar in a Russian restaurant near the Russian pavilion.
The woman was adopted from Korea and came to Seoul for a 6-month Korean language program. She’s unemployed, divorced, and has two children. We made a quick connection sharing experiences having to preface any interaction with new Koreans that we were foreigners and despite our native appearance, not so great at Korean. Both were heading to their respective native countries the following morning.
I finish my dinner, bid “nice to meet you…safe travels, etc.” to Russia and France, take a shower, and sleep about four hours because the one fan oscillating in the bedroom isn’t enough to stave off the Korean summer heat. I unsatisfyingly wake up while its still dark, collect my things, eat some more oatmeal, and am shuttled to the subway station by the kind manager to ride the 5:25am subway 30 minutes to Gimpo.
This eery subway ride
made me nervous and special. I just had to add top and bottom black borders to make it look like a suspense film. Everyone else must be at work or something…man, I’m a lucky duck!
Just kidding, I got on the wrong subway line and hopped on a train at the end of its line and wasted 5 precious minutes while the conductors changed shifts and headed back to same stop I had just come from…
I find the right train, rush off and proceed to jog to “Domestic Departures”. I get on the moving sidewalk to speed myself up and get yelled at by an old Korean man with a cane who shouts very, very loudly “Don’t run!” I keep on jogging.
Lessons learned. Now on to more.