July was a good month, but a weird one! The rainy season began and my itineraries battled with the weather at every turn. I was incredibly lucky with my trips this month. The rain seemed to time itself to when it would be most convenient for me to step into a cafe for a break.

I‘ve fully agreed to stay until February in Korea. This means getting my medical check done, visa renewal stuff, background checks, etc. And it also means I get to explore tons more places! Bigger trips are on the horizon as the additional six months happens to include some lovely long holidays. I’m planning a long train trip around the northern area of South Korea, as well as a trip to Ulleungdo and Dokdo islands!

There was some slight drama about my vacation in August as I’m planning to go to Jeju with a friend. My school would not allow me to use vacation days from my next contract so I’ll have to take three unpaid days. Luckily, last minute the Korean government decided to make one of those days a temporary holiday, so I’ll only lose money for two! It all appears to be sorted and I’ll be living it up in Jeju thanks to a gift of hotel points for my birthday. Hooray!

Now onto what I did this month. It was crazy busy with travel! There were no “easy” destinations this time around. They were all plans left over from when I thought I’d be leaving in September, otherwise they would have been more spread out. I did have a quick trip to Jinju for some of my favorite dim sum in Korea, but since I’ve been there many a time now, it doesn’t bear much mentioning 🙂

Namhae

What an absolutely incredible place. And an incredibly difficult place to get to. I actually had to go there on a tour with Adventure Korea, which went better than I ever could have hoped. Unlike my tours through the UK, I was actually surrounded by people my own age. Additionally, the fun activities didn’t get in my way for exploring the villages we stopped in. We also had a lantern releasing time (they were eco-friendly lanterns and it was the rainy season) which was just as magical as I’d always hoped it would be.

Terraced rice fields filled with brown water and green sprouts looking out to the sea. The rocky mountain descends into the sea behind the fields and a tiny pagoda is at the bottom.
It may have been a cloudy day but these photos are still gorgeous!

It’s definitely one of the most beautiful places in all of Korea, if not the whole of Korea.

Suncheon

I have been to Suncheon before, back in late September. That was…the wrong time to go. There were hardly any flowers and due to poor planning I didn’t even make it to the famous bay I had organized the whole trip for. This time I redeemed myself!

Not only did I see the famous bay, I saw the gardens all abloom, ate delicious lamb skewers, and stayed in a charming airbnb with a lovely Korean grandmother host. I can’t wait to update my guide to Suncheon!

a green leafy marsh with a boardwalk leading through it to a pine tree covered mountain. A couple holds hands, a girl in white dress and the man in black.
I finally made it! The bay!

Daegu & Haeinsa

a sand colored pavement path stretches down the middle to a gate with a large roof shrowded in mist. On either side of the path are green trees emerging from the mist.
This mist was absolutely enchanting

Because I’m a strange person, nothing sounded better to me than spending my birthday alone in a Buddhist Temple. As my friend described it, I was “scrubbing off the first half of 2020.” Some wonderful, amazing things have happened this year, but it’s also been a mental struggle for me. I wanted to work on my ability to handle my stress levels and I think I learned a lot.

This trip to Haeinsa necessitated a stop in Daegu, which I found myself falling in love with too. There’s something about the churches – shouldn’t I have seen enough in the US and Europe? I’ve seen Notre Dame (pre-fire) and St. Peter’s Cathedral – what more interest could I have in churches? Well, it’s something about how unexpected all the churches are in Daegu. While I am aware that around 40% of Koreans identify as Christian, you don’t see much sign of it outside of random women in Seoul attempting to get you to join a cult and square buildings that, were it not for the neon cross at the top, you would never know was a place of worship. The large cathedrals in Daegu were simply fascinating. Also there is a new inductee as the Third Best Cafe in Korea, Percent 14-3. You should go 😛 But more on that in an upcoming guide!

Next Month (August) Plans

I‘m trying to take it a bit easier in August but I’m still going to two places! I’ll be heading to my second Jewel Temple, Tongdosa. Unless plans change, it should be a quick daytrip from Busan.

This will be followed by 5 days in…Jeju! At long last the stars have aligned so that I may go to Jeju. I am thrilled to explore Udo Island, the lava tubes, the famous black pork, and relax in an amazing hotel courtesy of a birthday gift! I can’t feel that I have truly “seen” Korea until I have been to Jeju, and it’s just around the corner 😀

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