Since visiting the 5.18 Peace Park in Gwangju my interest in Korean history had peaked, especially the stuff that was seemingly swept under the rug. While looking for places to visit and things to do in Jeju I came across the 4.3 Peace Park and was immediately captivated by the Jeju Uprising, another bit of Korean history I was yet unaware of. As most things are in Jeju, the park was not an easy place to reach without a car, but I'm no stranger to Korean public transportation, so the hour long bus ride didn't phase me. Bus 43 runs from downtown and stops directly outside the park, the only problem is it only runs once an hour, so it's wise to plan your trip accordingly.
Jeju is famous for many things, earning itself the title of one of the new seven wonders of the world as well as holding multiple UNESCO heritage sites. Hallabongs, lava rock formations, beautiful scenery, black pig and loads of other foods and snacks, are a few notable aspects, but a highlight no one should miss are the Olle trails. I often heard people talk about Jeju Olle trails, but I honestly never spent much time looking into them, that is until last week. After a few months of traveling, eating and drinking too much, I was ready for a few solid days of exercise, and lucky for me Jeju is the perfect place for this, along the Olle trails.
When I told my (Korean) friends that I’d be visiting Jeju again, this being my third trip, I received a lot of jealous and envious feedback. I guess it’s true that you don’t travel much in your home country because despite being a 1 hour plane ride away some of my friends have never been. I actually felt kinda bad because I wasn’t all that excited about my trip, in fact as I waited to board the plane part of me wished I were on a bus to my friends apartment in Mokpo. I get carried away sometimes and it usually involved buying airplane tickets, but then when the day comes I begin to think “Who signed me up for this?” sounds weird, I know. Nevertheless I was on my way to Jeju, first to meet a friend and then hang out and explore on my own for an unknown period of time.
Tuesday morning began early, loading up the buses for a day of adventure. I was given a schedule before we left (in Korean) but per usual our plans had changed - same destinations, but in a completely different order. Our first stop was a beautiful coastal walk at a place I can't remember (or was never told) the name of. Basically it was time to hear the students complaining that their legs were tired and it was too hot, not a good sign for the rest of the trip. Again this was just one big photo shoot, the boys were hilarious (and gullible) as I got them believing my boyfriend was back in Buksam at my house while I was on this trip. I'm hoping these guys continue to talk to me back at school because they were a blast to spend time with in Jeju, true colors were definitely showing.
So as I've mentioned multiple times, my school is awesome - I love the students, my co-teachers are helpful (most of the time) and my administration adores me. Last week I had the privilege to accompany the second grade students on their annual trip to Jeju-do, also known as the "Island of the Gods" and a popular tourist destination for Koreans and foreigners alike. Many teachers told me it wouldn't be fun because I was touring with the students and wouldn't be able to see what I wanted on the island. Okay fair enough, but let's consider the following: 1) I wouldn't have to come to school or teach for those four days 2) I'm going to Jeju (regardless of what I see the islands beautiful) 3) I get time to bond with the 2nd graders outside of the classroom and 4) Did I mention the principal wasn't making me pay? - um yeah I'm not complaining.
Where to start. After living in this country for three years I have memories, experiences and stories galore. I'll now always be a bit partial to the Land of the Morning Calm. Filled with delicious foods, beautiful nature and friendly people, I'm always happy to return.