Friday, June 25, 2010


This has been a bit of a hectic last few days, as I took my last few vacation days to visit Jeju Island. Jeju is the southern-most part of Korea, and is known as a sort of tropical paradise. However, for me, the combination of weather and the work I had to do to get around, it was more like normal Korea + volcanic rock and a few palm trees.

While it was nice to be away from classes, the weather for most of the time was cloudy. I didn't even get to see the largest mountain in Korea, the volcano Hallasan, because it was so overcast most of the time. Anyway, here's a bit of a recap :

I arrived Saturday afternoon, and after checking in to the hotel in Jeju city, I went to Samseonghyeol shrine. This shrine is where the legendary brothers who founded the island were "born" when they emerged from three holes in the ground.

There is a bit of a dip in the ground, and the three holes are here.

After that I went to the Folklore and Natural History Museum next to the shrine.

The next day I went to the eastern part of the island, to the Manjanggul lava-tube cave. Manjanggul is supposedly the longest lava-tube cave in the world. It was pretty interesting, and a nice reprieve from the heat. Unfortunately most of my pictures didn't turn out because of the darkness, but here's the highlight of the cave - a 7 m. tall lava pillar :

Monday morning, I went to the southern coast, to the city of Seogwipo. Seogwipo is more laid back than the typically Korean Jeju-si. First I went to Jeongbang waterfall, which is supposed to be the only waterfall in Asia that falls directly into the sea.

After that I made a trip to see Oedolgae, which is basically just a large rock off the shore that has a legend attached.

My next stop was Jungmun city, which was probably the highlight of the trip. The sun finally came out, so I went to Cheonjeyeon waterfall. Cheonjeyeon is a three-tiered waterfall where (quoting my LP guide) "the seven nymphs of who served the Emperor of Heaven used to slide down moonbeams to bathe every night." It's all beautiful, and there's even a huge bridge crossing it all which allows you to see for miles.

Then I was off to Jusangjeolli. Jusangjeolli is like a miniature version of Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. When the hot lava reached the sea, the rapid cooling and contraction created distinct formations along the coast.

Tuesday morning I went back to Jeju-si. I did some roaming around the city before finding a motel to drop off my backpack, then took a bus along the east coast to Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak). Seongsan is another extinct volcano, and one of the most popular hikes aside from Halla mountain. While it looks huge, it only took twenty minutes to get to the top where there are some pretty great views (when it isn't foggy) and a big grass-filled crater.

I'm glad I got to Jeju, since it is supposed to be one of the not-to-be-missed highlights of Korea. I guess I was just assuming I'd be doing more relaxing and less hiking up and down stairs!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

While the election music has finally stopped, things only seem to have gotten more hectic around here. We had the last week of classes for the spring term, and I had to "say goodbye" to some of my favorite students. I have fewer LangCon classes (with the younger kids) and more Avalon classes this term. Here are some of the classes I no longer get to enjoy :

I still have all of these kids, but Danny (the boy in the middle) is so cute in pictures

This is Hunguk - he likes to make faces

I'm probably the most sad about not having this class any more - they're great speakers and so much fun

These girls are adorable - they're trying to make a heart, and they wrestled poor Edan into the middle of it against his will

The lowest class, who could be a handful, but very cute

Dave and Ally (I still get to teach them)

Last weekend was the end of the (in)famous International Mime Festival. We went out on Friday night to see what it was about, and frankly, it was just kind of weird. There weren't really any mimes in the traditional sense - more like contemporary performing arts. Or something like that. It really was a hodge-podge of people and presentations.

The closest thing to mimes at the festival, but these guys talked and greeted everyone at the entrance.

Walking up the stairs you're surrounded by strange, floating things

My first concert in Korea

A traditional Korean ceremony

Some interesting people were in attendance

And in happy news, there is progress on two of my upcoming trips. I now have a date set to Jeju Island, which is supposed to be beautiful. I also have a more concrete idea of what I'm going to do for the China trip, and have even started on parts of the post-Korea travel plans. Even though I've yet to feel stress-free again, at least I'm starting to figure some things out!