Thursday, August 8, 2013

Jeju Island (Monday)

I'm finally getting around to writing my blogs for my summer vacation last week. It was a whirlwind vacation and now that I'm back, I just haven't had the time and energy to write. But, at long last, here it is. For summer vacation, I wanted to get out of Seoul. But, with my contract ending soon and plans for Europe falling into place, I didn't want to break the bank either. I decided that taking a domestic flight down to Jeju Island would be the best course of action.
After enjoying my first weekend of vacation (see previous posts), on Monday July 29th I packed up all my stuff (and about double the clothing I actually needed) and headed to Gimpo Airport. I had booked an evening flight to save some money (about 15% off), so my flight was scheduled to leave at 6:10pm. I got to the airport around 4:45, which was perfect timing. I got checked in, chose my seat (furthest to the front and on the aisle, please), and grabbed a bite to eat.

I breezed through security in about 3 minutes. I love not flying within/to/from America because security isn't nearly the nightmare it could be. Granted, my flight was also domestic rather than international, but still. I didn't have to take off my shoes, I didn't get a pat down, and the lines were basically nonexistent.

I got to the gate and it was pretty crowded! Guess a lot of people had the same idea as I did for their summer vacation. Nearly every flight I saw in the terminal was heading to Jeju. Finally we boarded and  I gotta say, this plane had the least legroom I'd ever experienced. I was on JejuAir and sitting properly in the seat, my knees had around 6 inches (I am 5'4"). I couldn't imagine being much taller! Thankfully, the flight took around 50 minutes. I managed to fall asleep during that time and as we landed the sun was setting and I could see the beautiful blue ocean waters and fiery red sun out the window.

When I landed I picked up my luggage (which took all of 5 minutes to start shuffling out onto the luggage carousel). I was nicely standing at the yellow line designating where we should wait for our bags and promptly got stood squarely in front of. I guess the Korean lifestyle doesn't slow down once you hit the island; everyone is "hurry hurry hurry!!" I literally had to shoulder someone out of the way so I could grab my bag when it came around.

As soon as I secured my stuff, I headed into the arrivals hall. I headed for the tourist information desk to get a map and guidebook, and also saw a stand for the Olle Trails. Since I'd planned to do an Olle trail, I picked up a really nice guidebook for those and a detailed map as well.

Then I headed for the airport bus to take me 1.5 hr south to Seogwipo. Initially I had trouble finding the bus (don't follow the crowd....) but eventually I located it and paid the 5,000W fee, loaded my stuff, and settled in for the ride. My phone was dying so I was trying to conserve battery yet also keep a ear/eye out for my stop.

After around 50 minutes I started worrying about being able to locate my hostel and getting off the bus at the right stop, so I moved close to the front and started talking with some other lost-feeling 20somethings. Eventually we found our stop (we all happened to get off at the same place), and I followed the hostel's directions. I checked into Backpacker's Home and collapsed on the bed.

Even though I've written them a review on, I feel I should still say a little something about this hostel. I haven't stayed in too too many hostels, but I have stayed in a few. This hostel had absolutely zero security. The room keys (of which there was one for each room), were laying on the lobby counter. You can pick one up walking in the door (which had no lock or security check system) and go to any room you wanted. Ridiculous. Also, my room, which was for 4 people, had 1 bathroom and it had NO LOCK. It was a mixed gender room, too, so I was quite wary about that. At night, I realized that there were no individual night-lights on each bunk, so if a few people are asleep and the light is out, it's pitch black. Very annoying. Additionally, no privacy curtains on the bunks (not something I expect but would be nice in a shared-gender room).

Anyway, after a rest, I ventured down the road to find some food. I stumbled upon a kimbap restaurant and had the ol' Korean standby: ramen. It was pretty good! I headed back to the hostel and passed out til the morning...

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