Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…
After my return to Jeju-si and newly visiting Hyeopjae Beach and the northwest coastline amid impeccable climate, I set off to the town of Seogwipo during the second leg of my trip on Jeju Island.
I didn’t know what to really expect in Seogwipo, but pictures I had seen before of the city, surrounding countryside, and beaches, was that it appeared very relaxing and quiet. Upon my arrival I ascertained that my initial instincts were indeed correct; it was a city that ran at it’s own, easy-going pace, much different than Seoul, and even Jeju-si for that matter. Immediately, Seogwipo pleasantly felt disconnected from the rest of the island, and of South Korea. It honestly felt like it’s own country in a way. After getting off the bus and gaining a general feel for the town, I then ventured to where I would be staying: Backpacker’s Home. Backpacker’s Home would serve as a great place to relax and lay low during my time in Seogwipo
After settling in and having a cup of coffee, I grabbed a map and ventured to Oedolgae Rock, which was about a 20-minute walk from the hostel. The walk was magnificent and the weather was pristine.
After Oedolgae, I decided to hike the “Olle Trail” towards Jungmun Beach, which was about 16km away.
My plan wasn’t to necessarily hike all the way to Jungmun Beach, but to any place where I could safely get down to the rocky shore and then climb over rocks until I could reach some shoreline caves that I saw and was hoping to snap pictures of. From quite a distance, I sensed a place where it appeared I could get down the cliffs and onto the rocky shore; thus, I hiked in that direction.
Before finding a place where I could get down to the shore, I stopped off at a trail-side vendor and drank some coconut milk. It was absolutely delicious. I don’t remember coconut milk ever tasting so good, and I was honestly tempted to purchase another, but I kept my cool and continued walking.
After hiking along a sizable stretch of shoreline, I finally located a stairwell almost entirely shrouded with trees and bushes. Upon reaching the bottom, I immediately realized how peaceful it was. With the constant crashing of waves against the rocks, my mind was subtly put at ease. No one else was around, it was just the ocean and me.
I began climbing over rocks… and more rocks… and more rocks… in the direction of the cliff caves I had seen from the Olle Trail. However, I would soon encounter the unthinkable: people.
When I thought I was the only person down there, I would be taken aback upon seeing a group of people sitting under a green canvas amid the rocky shore. I stopped and quietly began taking pictures of the shoreline when all the sudden I heard someone say “이리와”, which means ‘come here.’ I turned my head in the direction of the voice and saw a man waving for me to come over to where a group of people were sitting in the shade. I hesitated slightly, but only for a split second as I figured, why not? Greetings abounded and I was quickly given a shot of soju and some food. Amid using broken English and Korean, and after a few laughs about how I randomly arrived there and what i was doing in Seogwipo, the group of Seogwipians drew themselves closer and we had a pleasant time chatting, eating, and snapping photos together. Then came the best part: fresh fish.
While we were all chatting and laughing the afternoon away, one of the men’s sons was out spearfishing and came back with a nice catch. Without a moment to lose, I was kindly invited to take part in enjoying the fresh fish, which tasted absolutely amazing. I couldn’t tell you what type of fish it was, but it was surely to die for.
I spent nearly 3 hours out there on the rocky shore with my new Seogwipian friends, and when they found out I had a Korean girlfriend, they all encouraged me to bring her after she arrived to Seogwipo and introduce her to everyone. I was a little unsure about bringing Michelle there, but I assured them that I would attempt to return in a few days. During the summer, my Seogwipian friends spend a lot of time on the rocky shore simply eating, relaxing, chatting, and having a good time with one another. To me, it was paradise. They were all so jolly, without a worry in the world enjoying simple things in life, such as fresh fish, the ocean, and joyful conversation. They were all happy I came and spent time with them, and I hoped to return.
After hiking back to the hostel, it was nearly dinnertime. I met up with my soon-to-be roommates and quickly became acquainted, then we all joined in with everyone staying at the hostel for a nighttime BBQ. Black pig (흑돼지) was on the menu and we all feasted like kings.
After my fill of black pig and defeating everyone at Darts, I crashed into bed happy about the day’s experiences and looking forward to when Michelle would be meeting up with me the following day.