(merkit hukassa)

Adventures in Korea

Tag Archives: photo-op

Jeju-do – 제주도, 2.-8.6.2011

Jeju is the Åland of Korea. It’s an autonomous paradise island at the very southern end of Korea. Everybody told us to be sure to go there, so we went – me, Lotta and Anouk. Lotta, as a tourism major and utterly awesome human being, acted as our travel guide, made all the reservations and made sure the trip was a success. It was a success.

We reserved the flight tickets maybe a month ahead and got pretty good prices from Eastarjet- around 80000 won / 50  euros return. There is a direct shuttle bus from Hotel Castle near Ajou to Gimpo airport. Tickets are 6000 won one way and it takes one and half hours to get there – we expected a shorted ride and we got there only ten minutes before Anouk’s check in counter closed. Me and Lotta had a different flight a bit later so we were okay. Both our flights were delayed because of thick fog in Jeju airport. Luckily we were able to land – I heard some planes had to return and some were canceled completely.

From Jeju airport we took a limousine bus 600 to Seogwipo KAL Hotel, close to our first hostel – Doona guesthouse. Our hostel was great and the people there nice. A lot of Scandinavian color there – two dudes from Sweden and one from Finland. The guesthouse is owned by a Korean lady, Doona, and her family. It has very comfy beds and clean facilities and a nice porch to chill at. Close by is a nice Korean restaurant and a small convenience store. Bus number 2 operates to Seogwipo city.

Doona guesthouse

We spend the first day climbing Halla mountain (한라산). (Wouldn’t Hallavuori be a nice surname?) We took the Seongpanak Trail (성판악) – 9.6 km. You can get there by taking bus 5.16 from Seogwipo or Jeju city. Tell the driver you are going to Seongpanak and he’ll drop you off there.  To be able to climb all the way up to the summit you should be at the shelter checkpoint (about 8 km)  no later than 1PM, descending from the summit should start before 2.30PM, so leave early! The bus from Seogwipo takes about 40 minutes.

Seongpanak trail wasn’t as steep as the other ones, but it sure was long. It was good though, we got to see the other crater lake. It was surprisingly quiet – no echo there. My hip started hurting at 1700m, so I didn’t climb all the way to the summit. Lotta did! Well done Lotta. I spent a couple of hours napping in the burning hot sun and headed back to meet Anouk. There were quite a many high school students there, on a field trip. They were happy to practice their English skills with us.

Hallasan

On our second day we joined forces with Canadian Michelle and Finnish Miikka to see the Seogwipo area waterfalls and Jungmun beach. Cheonjiyeon waterfall is in Seogwipo city… easily reached by walking or if you are coming from Doona guesthouse, by bus number 2. Hop off at Napoli hotel or write the waterfall name down and show it to the driver.

Cheonjeyeon Waterfall and Jungmun beach can be reached with bus 600. Catch it from KAL hotel or the hotel I forgot the name for, close to Napoli hotel. Hop off right after the extravagant hotels in Jungmun resort, by Ripley’s believe it or not.

We left for Jeju city (제주시) on our third day. Same bus that took us to Hallasan operates all the way to Jeju city bus terminal. Our second accommodation Yeha guesthouse was conveniently located next to the bus terminal and they had a superb roof terrace!  Rooms were nice and every room had their own shower. Breakfast and one free drink included!

Yeha Guesthouse

We spend the day checking out Jeju city’s sights – Samseonghyeol Shrine (삼성혈), where the three demigods of Jeju popped out of the ground, Jeju Folklore museum (pretty cool place, learned a lot, but the sea creature museum next to it was too much – freaking scary, never gonna swim again) and the seafront. Ate Mexican food near City Hall, at Zapata’s. Very good food and handsome waiters!

Samseonghyeol

Seafront

The next day we took a bus to Seongsan Ilchulbong (성산일출봉), the sunrise peak. We didn’t see the sunrise, but the area was pretty. We also took a ferry to U-do (우도), a small island close to the sunrise peak.  The tour bus organized by the local people is well worth the 5000 won. It stops at the main attractions and you can get on the next bus every half an hour. It was a good idea to take my flipflops with me, since the pretty coral sand beach was, well, sandy. I built a sand castle! And ate seaweed. The island is very rural and the people reminded me of people back home. Oh, the owner lady of the convenience store in U-do ferry terminal is nice and you can get home made kimchi with your cup noodles.

Sunrise peak

We got back early enough to have time to check out the Tea museum. It was great, even though no-one spoke a word of English there. The cafe downstairs was picturesque and had awesome matcha yogurt ice cream. Of course we had to buy some small tea cups, but the real tea sets were too expensive. We also found a nice Indian restaurant near by (can you tell we are getting a bit tired of Korean food).

On our last day we visited the Manjanggul Lava-tube (만장굴). The bus left us 2 kilometers from the entrance, but by foot we were able to see the smaller lava tube entrances. On the way we stopped by the Kimnyeong maze, a huge cedar maze well worth visiting. Our tactic ar first was the famous “first right, then left” but since it failed we switched to “kai-bai-po” (rock paper scissors) and successfully cleared the maze. For dinner we had the best summer food, Japanese cold noodles. From now on I’m not gonna eat anything else but cold noodles in the summer.

A great trip! Yay!

Isn’t Korea just awesome sometimes?

A couple of dudes from Jyväskylä came here to travel. It was a good enough reason for me to drag my ass to Seoul. There have been a bunch of national holidays going on – one of them Buddha’s birthday on May 10th. To get ready for the main thing, the Buddhist community here holds Lotus Lantern Festival – thousands of lanterns, performances, rituals, food, exhibitions. We went to see the Buddhist Street Festival in front of Jogyesa Temple last Monday. Too bad my camera settings were horribly wrong… but at least I got something:

Spring is also a time for University Festivals, where universities promote themselves. Our festival will be next week, 18th to 20th. It’s basically school clubs and faculties selling food and drinks in street stalls, but the big name idols are the thing everybody thinks when you mention Uni Festivals. Ajou university has IU (아이유), Kim Janghoon(김장훈),San E(산이) and Girl’s Day(걸스데이) and it’s all open and free to everybody.

Lotta did some clever detective work (googled University festivals + 2NE1) and found out 2NE1 was indeed performing in one of these festivals – yesterday at Kyungwon University, along K.will, UV, G.NA and Se7en. Me, Lotta and the abovementioned dudes went  there, of course – it was surprisingly easy now that we found out how amazing Naver is (I’m gonna make a post about Naver pretty soon, wait for it). We got there early, and had plenty of time to watch a local band Soundbox perform (to be honest, it was the best performance that night). They even had tap-dance! Isn’t that just awesome? We heard many original traditional Korean songs, like You Oughta Know and Proud Mary.

By the time we found out where the big performances would be, there was a huge line already. We joined (not being completely sure it was the right line) and got free stuff when we got in – milk, sweet bun, a light stick and Kyungwon University socks. Oh, Korea! Everything was well organized and people behave well, until 2NE1 started playing. But that was some for ours later – us spending the 4 hours sitting on the ground in front of the stage. The stage was pretty low, so they made most of the audience sit on the ground in neat lines. Four hours is just too long if you need to pee, and I did. We weren’t able to go back to our previous seats, but at least we were easy enough to recognize, so the nice bouncer let us back to the front area at least.

Oh, btw, they had the coolest fireworks ever! The performances were nice, but horribly late and at the end we weren’t able to see much. But at least we got a glimpse and some shaky proof:

We were lucky the show ended before the last train. We were kinda prepared on taking a cab home or at least to Gangnam, but to our amazement the buses were still running from Migeum and we even found the right one. I call this success!

“But you should see the other guy…!”

I was in a fight, look:

Just kidding. I went to get rid of my wisdom tooth, but they took out two. With the painkillers (I even managed to find a pharmacy and get my prescribed medicine) it cost me 300 000 won. Maybe 250 euros_ Thank you Visa. (Message for my mom: kantsii kohta kertoa paljonko oon velkaa ennenko mennee rahat risasiin hampaisiin) They even gave me an antibiotic shot – after allergy tests. They never bother with tests in Finland. I like Korean system. So efficient.

And my life is a musical! I’m not sure if I already mentioned this, but when I need to get stuff done I go to my Club’s room in New Student Union Building (Yes, building. They have not only one, but two student union buildings – for clubs and student activities. In Finland we barely have a basement cupboard for the student union). There is always somebody – people doing their homework quietly, playing piano, chatting. Then suddenly someone starts a song and people join, singing harmonies, spontaneously. When the song ends they just keep doing what they were doing like nothing happened. And that happens all the time. (Well, it’s GLEE Club so that explains.) Yes, I too join spontaneously now that I know the songs they sing.

And I got my work done too… sat there for whole day working on my mind map and flowcharts – which apparently overwhelms my classmates. They told me Koreans are not good with holistic views but details – in which I suck hard. My mind works in pictures, so I need to process everything through flowcharts and mind maps to actually understand. Tomorrow I have a presentation and I’m still a bit confused.

I took some very random pictures. Here goes:

My Biological Wastewater Treatment handbook. Very heavy, very big, and very boring.

Wrist bands from Everland and Big Show. And Pizza ads.

I’m bored of orange juice and allergic to nestle IceTea, so I switched to this. It’s good, but the pink one tastes like childhood antibiotics. Yuk… YUK!

One very cute Lotta and our dorm room. Check Lotta’s blog too if you haven’t already. In Finnish or in English.

And a postcard to my friend who has her birthday soon. Hope it gets there on time. Yes, that’s only one word there. Saying happy birthday. So Happy Birthday Kemppu <3

PS. I bought PhotoShop smudge effect from the cosmetics store nearby. It’s just foundation, but it gives the exact same effect that photoshop. ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ

The fresh air of Gyeong-ju

The Office of International Affairs (OIA) and Ajou Global Ambassadors (A.G.A) organized us a 1 night 2 days trip to Gyeong-ju. The little I know about Gyeong-ju is that it is the spot with most historic sites. They were pretty nice, but I guess I would have enjoyed it more by myself and later in spring – and if I had researched a bit beforehand. But it was great to get away from the Seoul dust – the fresh mountain air was awesome.

The bus ride from Suwon took about 5 hours, with two stops. The highway rest areas here are pretty well equipped, nothing like the shabby gas stations in Finland. There are similarities though – in Finland we have the ABCs, here they just have more chain stores. Fast, that’s the key word.

I spent most of my time in the bus taking pictures of weird things that interest me. Like construction sites and erosion prevention. And load securing on trucks. I wonder if they have any legislation to control it. They barely do it. I have to find out how it is…the girl next door is doing her masters in transportation engineering, I have to ask her.

We spent the night in Kolon Hotel (in the middle of nowhere). They had a sauna/onsen there so me and Lotta had to try it. We only had 40 minutes, but it was worth it. Refreshing. A.G.A held a talent show at the hotel and many groups had prepared something. I have to say I liked the Indonesian dances the most. Colorful, smiling, pretty and they are good dancers too. And they are friendly. I love friendly people.

It would have been fun to do something together with A.G.A people afterwards, but we had fun with our own little group too. I guess I’m getting the first symptoms of culture shock, since I’m starting to feel a bit irritated about stupid stuff. I need to get my ass out of the dorms soon, and do it alone, or I start nagging at people who don’t deserve it.

Here are some pictures of the sights and the people (and food):

Everland… and the Japan crisis

Yes, by far everything is okay in Korea, even though the earthquake in Japan was devastating and the situation in Fukushima nuclear plant is still extremely unstable. Luckily the wind is blowing towards the Pacific Ocean. I find it rather relevant to keep following the wind situation, but no one here is panicking over it. Finnish Embassy in Seoul asked Finnish citizens to update their contact information, so I let them know my local phone number. That’s all I’ve done.

I joined Friends Club and went to Everland with them last weekend. Everland is a HUGE theme park close to Suwon. HUGE. And so were the lines. The main attraction was this:

T-express

The T-express

On the first day we waited on a line for 70 minutes and on the second day for 90 minutes (because one of the cars was broken and they operated with only one car). But it was worth it… the first fall was almost 90 degrees and the ride was long enough. Everything else felt quite lame afterwards.

The weather was very nice so the place was packed with dating couples and families. The staff managed to hide their deep hatred towards the songs and choreographies  they had to do while operating the devices. Oh, I think this crew actually had fun, although it doesn’t really show on the picture:

We were hanging out with this group:

They are all really sweet and nice and they look especially cute when they try on cutesy merchandise like Tha here:
Tha

or me and Anouk here:

After the dinner we had a house party… they call it member training here. MT equals to lots of beer, soju, music and drinking games. They have a lot of games – most of them really fun. I’ll try to learn them and bring them home.

Here’s what Björn thought of the party:

Cleavage and culture

First things first: I’m never gonna wear shoes again. I’ve got more blisters than undamaged skin on my feet.

Yesterday I met with Michael and Patrick – a German and an Austrian guy who are gonna study in Ajou – at Seoul station, just to do some sightseeing together. They are such friendly guys. I’m happy I’m able to spend some more time with them. I was a bit surprised how comfortable it was to hang out with European guys who treat you like their equal. Here I’m constantly reminded of my gender somehow. Not in a bad way, but reminded anyways.

We went to places (that I can’t pronounce) and did things (mainly walking). A group of kids wanted to take a picture with us. I hope it was because of my white hair and not my cleavage which I accidentally was showing all day long without noticing, before a guy started “secretly” videotaping me with his phone on the train. I honestly didn’t realize my top was showing that much but, oh well, I’m happy to entertain. Can’t exactly wiggle with my slender legs, can I? That’s what locals do.

The yaoi sophisticated forms of queer sexual minorities’ culture/K-pop maniacs Ryo and Puu got tickets (W35000) for the play I mentioned yesterday and thank god something more secular they were with me. I would have gotten so horribly lost without them and not done the fangirl loitering after the show – which paid off, we got to talk with the actors and they signed stuff.

The play was incredibly good. I’ve not witnessed anything like that in Finland. I’ve sensed quite a bit of gay vibes in Korean drama but it was nice to see it done seriously. Park Eun Tae is certainly a very talented actor and an amazing singer. And the guy who played Valentin, Kim Seung Dae, reminded me of my good (female) friend so much I got a bit nostalgic and home sick. I will definitely go and see more plays and musicals while I’m here – the language doesn’t matter if the acting is good. And I really recommend it (and especially this play) to everybody. (Here’s a promotional picture from the Internets)

kiss_of_the_spider_woman

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