Jeju: The beauty and the pain – Part I

19 Oct

Jeju, South Korea, baby rock, Munson Island

Even in the shade, on an air-conditioned bus, my face still sizzled. In my head, I could picture my face like a big steak on the grill, juices bubbling and that sound – that burning sound – like a kind of hissing. I could tell this was gonna be bad. I went over the badges of honor I had earned on this trip: mosquito bites, deep purple bruises, a thoroughly sore upper body, missing bits of skin from my top knuckles that still hadn’t begun to heal, broken nails, and of course an achingly scorched face and arms. As if being a foreigner in South Korea didn’t get me enough stares now my face looked like a tomato. All this and I still wish I had more time in Jeju.

I’ve learned that if I don’t come back from a trip utterly exhausted, and with a list of injuries, then I did something wrong. When you’re trying to pack as many experiences as you can into one trip, and foregoing most if not all luxury, you will inevitably injure yourself. Most of the time you might not even realize it until much later and I think I deserve some kind of bragging rights. Even as I write this it hurts to smile as my face and body are still going through some serious healing. It’s an annoying feeling when you can’t smile even though your face really wants to – like you need to stretch your body, but you’ve been locked in a trunk.

Of course, it also depends on what kind of activities you do that determine what, if any, injuries you will incur. Obviously, scuba diving off Baby Rock doesn’t hold the same possibilities as Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland – both of which I did. By the way, “Alice” was a total scam, but more on that later.
So let’s see what we have here:

Mosquito Bites - The way I know mosquitoes feel about me – I’m thinking of the great Thailand incident of 2010 – the first bite can be like standing at the gates of hell….and down I go.

Waiting for another taxi to come pick us up outside of what looks like some kind of Egyptian shrine. There are Pharaohs heads and a man in a keffiyeh riding a camel on the roof. This cannot be “Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland” – but it is. The indoor attractions of Jeju are spread around the island and if you don’t rent a car, those taxi rides will add up real quick. We haven’t even been here a day and I already feel like I’m throwin’ money out the window. At this point we are over the kitschy museum thing, and I just paid a guy to let me wander around a mirrored maze/haunted house barely tied-in with Alice in Wonderland that somehow also involved a six-foot robot and a Batman statue. Okay, maybe it had its own charm. Just as the car pulls up, I reach down to scratch my leg and realize: this itch is different – yet very familiar. Let the feast begin!

Random Bruises – People get bruises from all sorts of things, even something as simple as basic exercise. They show up and leave you wondering what the hell you did to get such an unsightly welt. So was the case with at least one of the bruises I got.

Seogwipo Harbor, Jeju, South Korea

Seogwipo Harbor

It’s early morning and not too many people are out yet. It is after all the Korean Harvest Festival known as Chuseok, and most people are probably on the road or at home cooking up something delicious. We follow the signs down a small hill towards Seogwipo Harbor to check out the Cheonjiyeon Waterfall. This place is pretty hyped up in Jeju, but given the special time of year it isn’t too busy and it’s an easy stroll from the entrance. I like waterfalls (who doesn’t), but sometimes waterfalls can become like Buddhist temples in East Asia, churches in Europe or, Walmarts in the US. Sooner or later they all start to look the same.

Cheonjiyeon Waterfall,Jeju, South Korea

Cheonjiyeon Waterfall

Tourists line up to stand on the rock in front of the waterfall and get their picture taken while I wait for those two seconds in between to try and get a people-free picture. Somehow I manage to snap a few.

We overhear something about a submarine ride nearby and head over to investigate. I’m not the best when it comes to small enclosed spaces and if you put that same space 132 ft (40m) underwater it doesn’t exactly help. Yet, somehow I am doing exactly that and enjoying it! Sure I’m thinking I might die, but the fish are pretty. Not to mention we play the foreigner card without even trying.

Seogwipo Harbor, Jeju, South Korea, submarineWe are “randomly” selected to be the first to get on the submarine, and our seats are right behind the captain! The shockingly bright coral is neon orange and at one point there are literally thousands of fish swimming by our window. We get a glimpse of a sunken ship and a wave from a friendly scuba diver feeding some fish. The submarine company hires him to do that, but imagine if someone was just diving and suddenly there is this 72 ft submarine in front of you. We don’t know it yet, but we are right near the same island where we will both be having our very first scuba diving experience the next day and getting some more bruises.

…and now for more pictures!

Seogwipo Harbor, Jeju, South Korea

Cheonjiyeon Waterfall,Jeju, South Korea

Cheonjiyeon Waterfall,Jeju, South Korea

Seogwipo Harbor,Jeju, South Korea

Seogwipo Harbor, Jeju, South Korea,scuba diving, submarine

Seogwipo Harbor, Jeju, South Korea, submarine


Check out the rest of my snaps from Jeju and other adventures at



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4 Responses to “Jeju: The beauty and the pain – Part I”

  1. Loren October 19, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    Great photos! That camera was a good buy.

  2. Amy J. October 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Your writing makes Jeju so real. I absolutely love your introduction. “I went over the badges of honor I had earned on this trip” and your detailed imagery really brings your experience to life. Also, your adventures are beyond cool. Submarines, Scuba-diving, seeing a new place… Even though I do not travel the world, I kind of feel like I do through your words and pictures. Oh… and your photography is brilliant! Keep on blogging!

  3. Jennifer October 20, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    You write so well. The words you used make the reader feel like they are having a conversation with you. Keep on Blogging. Can’t wait to read what you write next and view the the great pictures.

  4. leek November 9, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    what a cute kid

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