Monday, October 20, 2014

First visit to Seoul!

Hello everyone!

Can you believe it’s the middle of October already? We can’t! It seems just yesterday we were in the middle of summer preparing for our wedding! Time has flown by, and we are already 2 months into our 1-year contract!  You can definitely tell how time has passed here in Korea. When we arrived it was hot humid, and didn’t get dark till later in the evening. We went everywhere in shorts and slept with the AC and fan!  We are really excited for Fall now! The weather is much cooler, we wear jackets or sweaters to schools all day, and we don’t need the AC anymore! Back home in Gladstone, the main street called Portland Avenue, had rows of beautiful trees that always changed colors during the fall. It was always gorgeous and our favorite time of the year. 
Beautiful Gladstone trees! 

Here in Korea we haven’t noticed as many trees changing colors (yet) but we hear it happens. We are just enjoying the cool crisp mornings and sunshine afternoons! We even have some rain every now and then which reminds us of home. :) 

We have had 2 weeks of weird schedules (schedule changes, days off, traveling) and have really enjoyed the time off and the opportunity to explore the country! But now we are ready to get back into our normal routine and have a weekend off to just rest!

We made our very first trip to Seoul, Korea last week! We were really excited to finally visit the largest city in Korea! We’d heard many great things and couldn’t wait to get there! We decided it would be great to go during our 4 day weekend because after that, we weren’t sure when the next opportunity would be to get there! So the plans were made and we set off on that Thursday! I’ll let Tyler explain! :)

Day 1


We departed for Seoul by bus Thursday afternoon after enjoying lunch at Burger King. (We weren’t big on fast food back in the U.S., but it’s the only place to get a decent burger for a reasonable price around here.) Anyways, the buses to Seoul are very nice. They are similar to what you might think of flying first class on a normal flight (not international). Val and I both enjoyed kicking back and taking a relaxing nap. About halfway through the three and a half hour ride, buses pull over at a rest stop. The rest stops in Korea are awesome! They have a bunch of stores and shops where you can buy all sorts of food and snacks. They also have huge bathrooms to accommodate all the tour buses, which are usually pretty nice looking.

After arriving in Seoul, we headed out to the subway, which is located just a couple floors below the bus terminal. The subway system in Seoul is amazing! The subway trains come by very frequently so we never had to wait too long, they have English postings and translations of all the stops everywhere, they make very quick stops, and the cost is very cheap! Also, usually one floor above the subway platform, they have more shops, which sometimes include places to buy clothes, shoes, phones, and most importantly, FOOD!

We took the subway to Itaewon, a popular foreigner destination. After finding the hostel we stayed at over the weekend, we set out for dinner. We had a craving for some Mexican food, so we ate at this nice little restaurant near our hostel. Then we set out to explore Itaewon! 

So to give you a little bit of a mental picture, Itaewon has a main strip with big stores with brand names, and big restaurants. On one side of the strip is all the bars and clubs (some of them look like really cool places), which is where the all night partying happens. Then on the other side is a bunch of narrow streets with restaurants selling just about any food you could want, and all kinds of clothes including tailor made suits. Our hostel was located on a street famous for it’s antiques (which may or may not really be antiques). So it was close to the fun, but nice and quite at night. After we finished exploring the area, we stopped for some dessert before turning in for the night. We ate at a place that serves real waffle and ice-cream sandwiches. So basically, they make a waffle, put a flavoring spread of your choice (i.e., chocolate, strawberry, cream cheese, peanut butter, ect…), then they give you three scoops of ice-cream, which you can choose chocolate, vanilla, or both, and finally they top it off with chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, or sprinkles. It was awesome!

Day 2

Seoul Tower

After sleeping in and grabbing lunch at taco bell, we were headed to the N Seoul Tower! This famous landmark is similar to the Space Needle in Seattle and sits atop a hill in the middle of Seoul. After asking someone at our hostel, we decided to set out by foot and walk to the tower, (which we were told was about a 45 minute walk). Our walk took us up a series of hills, which ended up being the neighborhood where all the foreign ambassadors live. We had fun looking at all the homes and seeing which countries they belonged too. Most of those homes must be million dollar homes at least. After about 45 minutes of walking and still nowhere close to the tower, which was taunting us in the distance, we made the most miraculous discovery. Within a small foreign food store, we found root beer and ranch dressing! If you didn’t know, it is no easy task getting your hands on either of those goods here in Korea. To celebrate our victory and save us from walking for the next hour and a half, we caught a taxi to take us the rest of the way.

The taxi dropped us off right in front of the gondola, which takes people up to the tower. We bought our tickets and waited in line. We have heard horror stories about how busy it can be, but we didn’t have to wait too long. Once we got up to the tower, you almost forget you’re in the middle of a giant city. At one of the lookout points, they have metal fencing, which people attach locks to. Val and I purchased a little blue lock, which we wrote on and attached it to a spot on the fence. We have keys and maybe someday in the future we can try to go back and find our lock. In another area right next to the tower, there was some sort of cultural performance going on displaying different old weapons. While walking toward the tower, we got asked 5 times to be in pictures with complete strangers. Not all of the people were Korean either. The last time was a group of several students, so after they got their picture, we asked for one of our own with them! Now it’s time to go see the tower, which I will let Val tell you more about!

Once we got to the top, we stepped off the gondola and immediately saw the fences filled with little locks! We had to put a lock on ourselves, so we bought a little blue lock and drew on it with a permanent pen. Then we found the perfect spot and locked it on forever! We headed up a little further, closer to the entrance of the tower and saw there was a cultural show going on. As we were watching the performance a lady came up to us with her camera, gestured to take a photo, and handed the camera to Tyler. Tyler had to take a photo of me and this lady on her camera. The lady pulled me close and was super happy to be taking this photo. It was hilarious. But that only started a chain of multiple other people who wanted photos with us. I think once they saw 1 person do it and that it was ok, they all wanted too! After taking at least  different photos we asked the last group of high school kids to take a photo with us! Haha!

We finally got to the entrance of the tower and bought our tickets to go to the top. We got a great deal! It was $20 for both of us to go to the top and it included a large popcorn and 2 drinks! We were happy with that! We proceeded inside, got our food, and took the really cool elevator (that has a TV on the ceiling) to the top. Once we got up there we were pleasantly surprised with the fact that it wasn't super crowded. We had space to move around and take as many photos as we pleased. Around the windows were labels with the different cities or countries in the world and how far away they were. There was a great little booth set up where you could purchase post cards, write on them, and mail them from the top of the tower. Obviously, it was just another way to get people to buy their postcards, but it worked! We totally bought postcards and sent them to our parents! And we had fun doing it, so that's what counts, right?
After hanging out at the top for a bit and soaking in the view, we went down one floor to use the restroom. The restrooms were amazing! The sinks were situated in the middle of the room and the windows were floor length so you had a great view! It was a very fancy bathroom! 
We got back into the elevator and went down again. As we left we took some more photos and went to find the bus stops. We successfully found the bus that would take us back to Itaewon near our hostel, but we decided to get off at the stop before that at a open air market instead! This was a great choice! 

Namdaemun Market

On our way back from the Seoul Tower we stopped at the Namdaemun Market. This market is like a huge labyrinth of shops. You can literally find anything in this market IF you know where to look. It was times like these that we really feel like we are in another country! You can buy anything from clothes, toys, and souvenirs, to things like live octopus, gardening supplies, and custom bedding. Val and I got some fun things for ourselves and we were given a discount a couple of times because the person liked us.

After spending a couple hours in the Market, it was time to head back to Itaewon for dinner! We decided to go to a Greek restaurant because we were craving gyros. Dinner was great and then we decided to drop our bags off at the hostel before going for a stroll. We went of a walk up and down the main strip in Itaewon and had fun just hanging out. Of course we stopped for some more dessert along the way, Val tried a doughnut, and I got an ice-cream cone! Korea has SO many different sweets everywhere and we decided it is our responsibility to try them all! Just kidding, but we have done quite well so far! Val can explain day 3!

Day 3

Hanok Village- The  3rd day (Saturday) was a very busy day! We first decided to go visit Bukchon Hanok Village, a historic village that has over 900 traditional houses that are occupied with residents. It was a quick subway ride to the neighborhood. Once we got off, we found a nice little information booth. Right as we walked up to it the ladies inside quickly grabbed us a English map and we were on our way again. We could tell when we arrived because all of the houses started turning into the very traditional type of housing and there were funny signs on fences reminding people to be respectful of the people who actually live there.

Though this place is a popular “tourist attraction” it isn’t officially one, so there are no real signs or postings about it. Apparently you can get some sort of tour guide to walk around with you, but we decided just to take a quick walk through by our selves. It was cool to see so many traditional houses still there and being lived in. Many of them have been restored in some way (a new door with a automatic lock, or new windows) but overall they were just as they were built. The houses are interesting is because not only are they the traditional architecture, but they were so close to each other. There is very little space between one house and the next, but that is a very Korean thing, as Koreans are happy with being near one another.  We took some photos and decided we were satisfied with what we saw, so we walked back to the subway and headed back to Itaewon.

Itaewon International Food Festival- Before we left for Hanok Village, we noticed that there were lots of booths and a giant stage being set up on the main street. We found out a International Food Festival was occurring that day!  Once we arrived back in Itaewon, we met up with our friends, Brad and Maranda, and set off to find some international food to try! It was very crazy on the main street. There were tons of people, loud music, and lots of booths! We ate “bangers and mash” (a great UK dish) and a lamb kabob (not so good ). Then we found an English bookstore called “What the Book” with lots of new and used English books! We bought the book “The Maze Runner” since we saw the movie and want to read the rest of the series (ya, it’s a series, who knew?!). After that we walked around and found this amazing cookie place! They sell fresh, warm, SOFT homemade cookies! That’s the first real cookie we’ve had since coming here and they were amazing! We tried white chocolate macadamia nut and milk chocolate chunk. Both were delicious!

Gangnam- After dessert, we headed out across town to find the one and only Gangnam neighborhood! As many of you know, the song Gangnam Style, made famous by Psy, was based off of the Gangnam neighborhood in Seoul. Gangnam is known to be more of the “modern/hip/high class” area, and apparently the song is making fun of that. We ended up dancing to Gangnam Style with out bridal party at our wedding and think it’s a funny song, so we had to go to Gangnam just to say we’ve been there! It happened to be on the way to our final stop of the day so we made the effort to go. Turns out it’s not very exciting. The subway station is actually very different there. Instead of having just a few various shopping shops down in the subway this particular subway was packed full of different shops selling expensive cloths, jewelry, watches, cell phones, shoes, and all sorts of things. It was also the most confusing of the subway stations because we could not figure out how to get out! ;)  Overall, it was not a super fun trip but worth going to at least once!

Picture in Gangnam...not so exciting....

One of the only things that said "Gangnam" 

Lotte World-Our final stop of the day was Lotte World If you haven’t heard, Lotte World is the worlds largest indoor theme park. But that’s not all! Lotte World has a inside theme park which includes a giant ice skating rink as well as an outdoor park called “Magic Island.” This is all attached to the giant super store Lotte Mart, which is one of those giant department/grocery stores we’ve talked about before. I think there is a hotel attached as well. It’s honestly big and overwhelming and it’s impossible to see everything. We got there pretty late, about 6pm by the time we entered. We were lucky because after 4pm you get a discount, but we got and even better discount because Tyler used his Korean Visa card. We have no idea why that gave us a “Special Discount” but it did and we were thrilled! It only cost $13 each which is awesome compared to the normal ~$40 range. We began by just walking around on the inside and observing everything. There were lots of little food restaurants/carts as well as gift shops selling all sorts of souvenirs, but mostly stuffed animals! Spread around were certain rides, but there weren’t too many of those. Most were children’s rides. We saw a roller coaster (but we couldn’t figure out where to get on) and we saw “hot air balloons” that circle around the ceiling above. Mostly it was just a lot families running around. It was loud, colorful, and crowded, so we decided to go check out the Magic Island. Walking out to Magic Island is sort of like walking into Main Street in Disneyland. As you walk, you go towards a giant castle in the middle. Lots of people broke out their selfie sticks and took many photos with the castle in the background. It was a pretty view, so of course, we did too!

We proceeded to go find some rides, and we saw a few familiar ones. The ride that lifts you high in the air and then drops you, the ship ride that sways back and forth, and one of those  high spinning rides that looks terrible! We found this one roller coaster ride called “Atlantis” that actually looked really fun! It was fast, had some turns, and went in and out of a mountain/castle structure. This looked great to us, but to our dismay it was an 80 minute wait with no “Magic pass” (fast pass) available. So we looked around at other rides and found out they all had about the same wait time. This was disappointing as it was almost 7pm and we were already tired from the day, waiting that long would take up most of the night! So we decided to go search inside again and along the way played a few arcade games. After a while of trying to decide what to do next, we decided to choose one ride and stick it out during the long wait. Of course the ride we chose was the “Atlantis” roller coaster. We found the back of the line, like halfway to the other side of the island, and waited a whole 80 minutes to get on. The wait wasn’t terrible, and we were completely entertained by this high school couple who were hilariously stereotypical. They both were wearing the Lotte World cat ears and showing a lot of PDA and flirting. It was great. What was even better was having them sit in front of us during the ride. Too bad we don’t have video of that! ;) When we finally got on, the ride was totally worth it (for what it was)! It was fast, had some surprises, and went in and out of the dark. It was kind of a mix of Indiana Jones and space mountain. Very interesting, but really fun! We were satisfied with our one ride of the day and decided to take our last look around before heading out.

When we went back inside a parade was going on around the ice rink. It was a light parade so it was dark inside with many parade floats of all different colors. We watched for a bit, but got bored and decided to try to exit while the crowds were entertained. That proved to be harder than we thought! As it was mostly dark inside, we got disoriented and forgot where we even came in. We were pretty convinced this place was built that way, so they could keep you in! Once we finally did find the exit, we headed back through the Lotte Mart where all the restaurants were. We found this AMAZING crepe shop! We had a giant crepe filled with strawberries, ice cream, and whipped cream. I’m pretty sure that was my favorite dessert thus far. :)  We headed back to the subway station (which happens to be attached to Lotte World, of course, and went on our way back to Itaewon. When we arrived, the festival was still in full force. People were everywhere, and the streets were a mess, filled with garbage! We made our way back to the hostel, packed, and went to bed! Overall, Lotte World was an interesting experience. The best way to sum it up is to say they really tried hard, but it will never live up to Disneyland. We couldn’t quite figure out a theme, even our ride Atlantis made no sense as far as a theme goes. It was also one of the most over stimulating places we’ve ever been! If the ride lines were shorter we would have liked to try more of them out, but it was just too crowded. I think we are a little too faithful to our favorite place ever, Disneyland. We were happy to have visited, but will probably never go back. ;)

Going Home: The next day (Sunday) we had bus tickets that departed Seoul at 10am, so we needed to get to the bus station kind of early. Once we got to the bus station we had breakfast (at Dunkin Donut’s of course!) and had amazing English muffin breakfast sandwiches! They really were just regular old breakfast sandwiches, but I love ridiculously un-healthy breakfast foods like such. J On our bus ride home we slept mostly the entire way. Once we got back to Gwangju we were hungry, but not starving. So we opted to try the TGIF restaurant, which was located in the bus terminal. We decided to share a grilled chicken Caesar salad. This turned out to be a very interesting salad! When they brought it out the plate had large pieces of lettuce laid on top of each other. Each leaf had the Caesar dressing spread on it, so it technically was a Caesar salad. The croutons were huge, basically like balls of baked break. It took a while to cut up the lettuce because it was so thick and there was no easy way to eat it. We found this to be a hilarious lunch and laughed the whole way through. It actually tasted great though, so it was a good choice nonetheless! J

After that really fun long weekend we were a little sad to get back to the real world. But of course, that is life! ;) We had a wonderful time and can’t wait to go back again to see what else we can explore! :)

We have so many more photos of our trip on our Shutterfly Share site! You can view them at this link:

~Tyler and Valerie 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Jeju Island!

Hello everyone!

Last weekend we went on a 3-day vacation to Jeju Island! Jeju is a decent sized island in the very south part of the country! Many people claim it is the “Hawaii” of South Korea! It definitely is a very different atmosphere from mainland Korea and is also very beautiful!

We decided we had to get this blog post up now as we leave again today to have another mini vacation to Seoul! :) Our 3 day weekend to Jeju was jam packed! We saw so many sites and really enjoyed getting out of our town for a bit!

We had Friday off because of a holiday (Korean National Foundation Day) and was invited to go on this vacation by some friends we met at orientation! This trip was planned by an organization called “When in Korea” (a.k.a WINK). This organization is led by foreigners and native Koreans who live in Korea and love to travel. They plan trips around Korea for foreigners (although Koreans are welcome as well!) and take care of the many details that can sometimes be challenging when you don’t speak the language! This trip included our motel, ferry, busses, entrance fees, and even a few meals! The cost was low for what all was included and it was definitely worth it. We would have never experienced Jeju like that by ourselves (It’s hard just to figure out how to get ferry tickets right now!) So for our first vacation, this was great!

We started out by taking a taxi to Gwangju at 1:30am on Friday morning. The tour bus was supposed to pick up the Gwangju people at 3am, so this gave us plenty of time to get to the bus station, order a KFC snack (yep, healthy), and find the rest of the group. We met up with our friends, Austin and Nicole and got on the bus around 3:30am. By that time, we were exhausted and fell right asleep on the bus. These are the same tour busses we’ve talked about before with the comfy seats, curtains in the window, bright colored lights, and crazy decorations. These busses are known for having the “most comfortable seats in Korea.” Since most Koreans sit on the floor a makes sense. ;)

From Gwangju, we drove south to the county of Wando. Wando is a coastle county with multiple islands. Some islands are connected by large bridges and some you have to take boats to. We woke up about 30 minutes before we were at the Ferry station. It was bright and sunny out and the view was beautiful! Mixing the green mountains with the beautiful beaches was amazing! We took lots of pictures from the bus, but we wish we could explore more!

We were told about 5 minutes before we arrived that we were late and will need to be fast unloading. So all 50 of us quickly got off the bus, got our tickets, and literally ran onto the boat. We were slightly disappointed when we found out not only were we not on the larger ferry with the Dunkin Donuts, but we were on the slower ferry with no Dunkin Donuts. ;) Instead of taking 2 hours to get to Jeju, it was going to take 5! Good thing we were prepared with pre-downloaded movies on the Kindle Fire and our pillows!

The Ferry ride actually wasn’t too bad. We started out just visiting with our friends and eating the Costco muffins provided by WINK. We took lots of pictures and then started a movie. Ferry’s are very different in Korea. In the US, usually seats are first come first serve, or maybe you get a reserved seat if it’s a nice ferry. In Korea, there is a class system. First class gets nice comfortable seats, second class gets regular seats, and third class gets put in one of many large rooms on the boat and you sit on the floor…yep the floor! Not only do you sit on the floor, but you must take off your shoes before you sit on the raised floor with thin carpet. For the first 3 hours of the trip we actually found metal seats outside, which were first come first serve. This was nice because it was so beautiful out! For the last two hours we went inside and sat on the floor because it got a little chilly. It was an interesting experience sitting with a mix of foreigners and Koreans on this big floor. It’s not uncommon or rude to lay down and sleep on the floor. Most people on the ferry (in 3rd class) did this for the rest of the trip. We enjoyed a bowl of ramen for a snack and finished our movie inside. Since the boat was slower, it was not too rocky, but we were still thankful to get to Jeju in the end!

Once we got to Jeju, we unloaded and found our new tour bus. Our first stop was lunch! We drove to a Korean restaurant with a 7-11 next door. Thankfully we were one of the first to order because there were only 2 cooks, and 50 hungry people! We ate mandu (Korean pot stickers) and rice and met another awesome foreigner named Nicole. Nicole actually works as a teacher in China at an international school! It was really cool hearing about her experiences there!

After lunch we were given tickets to a very “special” museum that was right next door. We were told about this museum before but had no intention of going there. Because our entrance fee was already paid for in our total tour cost, we decided “what the heck!” When in Korea, right? The museum is called “Loveland.” It is an out door art sculpture park focused on a theme of sex. Awkward, right? So after a very quick run through park, we were definitely finished. We got some ice cream from the 7-11 and got back on the bus.
The one appropriate statue in Loveland. ;)

After lunch and Loveland, we were on our way to the Manjangul Caves! The Mananjugal Cave is a large (and very well preserved) lava tunnel in Jeju. Only 1km of the 13,422m cave is open to the public, but the Koreans worked hard to make this accessible (and comfortable) for everyone. Inside there are lights on the cave walls, so there really isn’t much need to bring your own. They’ve placed large stepping stones in certain parts to cover up pot holes, and there is even a wooden bridge built inside! It was a little chilly in the caves, but not terrible! We made our way through the cave and enjoyed attempting to take pictures in the dark!

After the caves we were on our way to check into the motel. The motel was located at Hamdeok Beach, literally like 50 feet from the beach. It was a decent motel with lots of options for rooms. We got a private room with a double bed and our own bathroom, but most people got into groups of 4 and slept on the floor on mats and shared a bathroom. The room was plain, but it was clean and we even had a nice view of the ocean! The one interesting cultural thing we experienced were the pillows. The pillows provided did not have soft cotton or feathers inside, but instead something crunchy and hard was inside. Later, I researched it and found it was buckwheat husks inside. These pillows are actually supposed to be good for sleeping and keep away bed bugs. Not our favorite, but it was a interesting experience!

Simple, yet comfortable!

Beautiful view! 

For dinner we went to a popular “Black Pig” bbq restaurant.  The name comes from the “Jeju Black Pig” whose skin really is black. It is said that these pigs have a distinctive taste and supposed to be really special. We barbequed the pig at a communal table and met some other English teachers. The food was good, but we didn’t exactly notice any special taste. After dinner, we walked back to the motel and made a stop at the beach to enjoy it!

It was an early night for us as we had to be ready for our day long tour to begin at 7:30 the next morning! The next day we got on the bus with everyone and were ready for our day of exploring! Our first stop was Hyeobje Beach, about an hour away! Tyler will explain the rest!

Hyeobje Beach –

This beach was beautiful, but since it was our first stop in the morning, it was still quite windy and cold. The beach is famous for it’s black volcanic rocks, which were pretty cool. Val and I walked around and took pictures and played with our new selfie stick. Although selfie sticks look kind of ridiculous, they actually work pretty well and are very common in Korea. Also on the beach there were a bunch of little cairns, (stacked rocks) that people had made. We don’t know why, but it was cool to see so many of them.

Dragon Head Cliff Walk –

So the title for this place is a little deceiving because unfortunately the cliff walk was closed due to the big waves from the pending Typhoon. What we actually did at this location is go onto a model of a Dutch ship that had once washed ashore. After that we hiked up to an old signal post, which is like a stone watchtower for invading ships where a person would light a fire to warn everyone of anything suspicious. Then we headed further up to Sanbangsan Temple. The Buddhist temple was interesting to see. Inside the buildings everything was so colorful and then there were a lot of little statues everywhere. There was also a lot of food displayed before the statues as an offering. Outside was also a huge golden statue of Buda. From the temple we hiked up to a cave in the side of the mountain. In the cave there were people burning incense and people praying. We got to drink from a pool of blessed water, where the water was dripping through the rock above. On the way back to the tour bus, we stopped at one of the many booths to buy some famous Jeju chocolates and fresh squeezed Jeju unshiu orange juice. The chocolates we bought to share at our schools. After sampling the chocolates, we bought the unshiu orange flavor and the cactus flavor, which was my favorite. The chocolates were good, but Val and I prefer just regular chocolate without any fruit flavoring.
The buddhist temple was in that mountain. Really pretty!
Little bit windy... ;) 

Buffet Lunch – 
After our busy morning, we were taken to a Korean Buffet restaurant for lunch! We were looking forward to this because we were starving! When we walked in, the buffet was huge! There were many long tables spread out with giant warm serving platters filled with a variety of foods. There were many choices for lunch. Surprisingly enough there wasn’t too many dishes that we hadn’t seen or tried before (thanks to school lunch and being fed at orientation!). So it was good to know what we liked and what we didn’t like. There were still many things we stayed away from, but we found a plateful of food and sat down. We also ended up trying Pineapple Fanta (soda pop) to try….it’s not as good as we thought. ;) Tyler’s favorite dish was fried pot stickers and Val’s favorite was the sweet and sour meat.

Cheonjeyeon Water Fall –

After lunch we went to see three different waterfalls. The first waterfall was pretty small, but flowed into a beautiful pool of water and was backed by a really cool rock wall. Despite the sign that reads, “No swimming,” and “When swimming you can be died with heart attack,” some people from our tour still decided it was worth the risk and went for a quick swim. I am pleased to report that none of them died with heart attack. Although, the Koreans that saw all the foreigners swimming in the deadly pool of water sure thought we were crazy. The second waterfall was our favorite! It was a good size waterfall with stunning surroundings! The third waterfall was also a good size, but the viewpoint just wasn’t as good. The whole area was absolutely beautiful in a valley of such green lush trees everywhere and you could even see the ocean in the distance. We also walked over this huge bridge, which had a great view spanning over the valley. On a side note, I’d also like to mention that they also had camping available near the trails to the waterfalls. This camping consisted of renting a tent that is already set up on a raised wooden platform. It also had very nice bathrooms and showers just a short walk away. Koreans love camping, although their camping experience seems quite different than ours.

Waterfall area 1... 
Waterfall 2... our favorite! Do you see the rainbow? :)

So many stairs to climb! 

Waterfall 3! 

Jungmun Beach –

By the time we visited this beach, it was nice and hot outside and the sun was shining! This beach is known for its water sports like surfing because it has bigger waves than the rest of the island. We enjoyed relaxing on the beach watching the waves break and knock people over who were wading in the surf. Every now and then an alarm would go off, which we think may be warning people of any extra big waves. The waves were also bigger than normal because of the incoming typhoon. This was a great spot to enjoy some ice cream and just take a break from our busy schedule.

Jusangjeolli –

This is a viewpoint to see the famous stone pillars at the ocean’s edge. The pillars are admired for their naturally formed hexagonal shape. The unofficial name for the rocks is Superman Rocks because they resemble crystals in the Fortress of Solitude. There is also a spot where the waves would crash and spout water high into the air, which was pretty cool. You would know a big wave is coming when all the Koreans got excited. This was a short stop, but we got some good pictures and savored the beautiful view.

Sea Pool Diving and Swimming

Our last stop of the day was to go to this spot where a natural sea pool was made. There are cliffs next to it, which leads many adventurous and brave people to climb the cliffs and dive into the pool…After seeing the pictures you may (or may not) agree that this looks a little dangerous and with the Typhoon coming, the waves were very strong. Still, a few of our group members participated and had a great time. It was about 5pm at that time, sun was starting to set, and the wind was picking up. It started to get more dangerous as the waves were pushing the people into the cliff. So we decided it was time to go! We made our way back up the stairs we came down and went to a different view point to watch the sunset! It was really beautiful!

Jeju City

For our late dinner (8:30pm!) that night we all went to Jeju city to an Indian restaurant. Tyler and I sat with Nicole and Austin and enjoyed Lamb curry and Tandoori chicken! After that we walked around Jeju for a bit and looked in some of the shops. However, we were so exhausted from the day that we caught a cab back to the motel after not too long.

That day we were told that the Typhoon was coming to Jeju soon. We thought that was interesting and everything, but it was still beautiful and sunny outside so we didn’t think too much of it. It turns out that it was coming the next day and was going to be bad enough that the ferry drivers would not leave Jeju past 8am in the morning. People who had cell phones with data plans even got text messages warning them about the Typhoon. Our original schedule said we would leave Jeju at noon on Sunday, but instead we now had to leave Jeju at 8am. That meant we all got on the bus at 7am and drive to the ferry station. Once there, we saw how many other Koreans needed to get off the island as well. It was packed with people wanting to get a ferry ticket. We waited a while, finally got our ticket, and got on our new ferry. The good news was that this was a bigger and faster ferry (2.5 hours!) but unfortunately because of the speed and the typhoon waters, it was a very rocky ride! Our WINK group got a private room on the boat and we all claimed our spaces on the floor. Most people slept the entire boat ride. On a bathroom trip I (Val) saw just how bad the Koreans were handling the rocky boat. It was kind of like a scene from a horror movie. People were spread out all over the boat looking terribly sick, running to the bathroom, and “tossing their cookies” in any trash can they could find. This was not what I wanted to see as I wasn’t feeling so great myself, so I went back to our room, took some Dramamine, and went to sleep! We finally made it to Wando again and made our journey back to Gwangju!

Overall it was truly an amazing weekend in Jeju! It was our first vacation together that we paid for completely by ourselves and we felt we did everything we wanted to in that short time! Here is the link to our shutterfly share site that allows you to see all the photos of our trip! :D

And off we go again, this time to Seoul for a 4 day, 3 night adventure! We’re not quite sure what we’re going to do yet (spontaneity is best right?) but we’re excited to finally be able to visit this giant city!

Here is the link to our Shutterfly Share Site with all the photos from Jeju! There were so many beautiful sites, we had to take lots of photos! :) Enjoy!

 ~Tyler and Val