August was…a month. In keeping with 2020 it was a very mixed bag. At the beginning of the month I received the bad news that my cat had passed away unexpectedly. While she was old, she was a very strong and healthy cat, so this meant I was both sad and exhausted from being sad for much of the first part of August.
Additionally, the first two weeks of August involved dealing with camp, my least favorite part of working in Korea (aside from the banking, of course :P). While I have complete control over camp and what we do, I was suddenly assigned 1st and 2d graders for two hours everyday. I not only had never taught those grades, but it is well known that they don’t know anything more than “hello.” So, this was less than fun. At the very least, the subjects and crafts were fun and hopefully the kids enjoyed them too 😛
And finally, the COVID-19 cases in South Korea are skyrocketing again, which means I’m not going to be able to travel for the next few weeks while I wait for it to be under control again.
August was also busy in the sense that I am working on getting into graduate school next year. This means a lot of preparation and writing. In order to have the money necessary to go to cafes 3+ times a week, I didn’t really have the funds to travel that much. I love to write so this was a fine trade off, as I haven’t dedicated myself to my fictional writing in quite some time. As my main passion since I was seven years old it was wonderful to throw myself back into that world. And don’t worry, I’ve already worked out how I’ll be able to travel and go to school full time 🙂
But, the main event you’re probably wanting to hear about – Jeju!
I had five days in Jeju and Wow! Totally exhausting, but totally worth it. Thanks to a birthday gift my friend and I were able to stay in the very lovely Jeju Shinhwa Resort Marriott Hotel. Due to the frankly not-great bus system on Jeju it was always such a relief to tumble into an actually comfy bed after four bus transfers.
I’m really proud of our itinerary, over five days we got to see the north, south, east, and west sections of the island. Unfortunately, there was no hiking Mt. Hallasan as it was so incredibly hot out, so that will have to be another trip someday. We also had the chance to see Udo, another small island on Jeju’s eastern coast. Again, the heat prevented us from accomplishing our plan to bike around the island, so we had to resort to even more confusing buses, oh well!
This actual vacation was sorely needed and we spent our time swimming in the ocean, braving lava tube tunnels, eating all manner of peanut related items, enjoying views of cliffs and waterfalls, and hiking to Buddhist Grottos. I’m so happy to have seen Jeju, and now I feel I’ve actually *seen* Korea. Before there was always that gap of “oh I’ve been just about everywhere – except Jeju.” Of course, there is still more to see! But Jeju has long been on my wishlist 😀
This was a fairly last minute addition to my plans this month and I’m glad I managed to go. With the COVID-19 cases in the hundreds daily, I don’t think it will be wise to travel for the next few weeks. So, Geoje was the last hurrah!
Much like Namhae, I had begun to assume that Geoje would not be a real option for me to visit without being on a tour. They didn’t seem to have a train or intercity bus station, so there was no way for me to go. Luckily, a friend from my Namhae trip informed me that there were bus stations, they just weren’t named Geoje! With this final piece of the puzzle in place I took off for Geoje just after returning from Jeju.
We didn’t see that many things, but we saw the main places (Oedo Island, Gujora Beach, Windy Hill, Sinseondae) and I think that’s what made the trip so enjoyable. We spent quality time at each of the stops, really taking in the stunning views that make up Geoje. Ah, I already miss the cold salty water of Gujora! Geoje was more different from other places I’ve been in Korea than I originally supposed. The rock formations are out of this world, if you’re headed to Oedo, try to make sure to be on the boat that takes you around some of the stunning uninhabitable rocky islands.
Where to Next?
As I mentioned, with the cases being so high right now the prospects for September are grim. Originally I had plans to re-visit Gyeongju in order to see it in every season. And, towards the end of the month I was looking to return to Jeonju and stay in a historical hanok house. Now, this all remains to be seen. There were tentative plans to maybe do another Templestay at Tongdosa. Luckily, because I am planning to stay for another six months I should have plenty of time to revisit my favorites and new places as well!
I hope you’re all staying safe! Stay tuned for new posts on Italy, I’m trying to focus on those posts this month 🙂