Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…
After an eventful day bouncing from one place to another around Seogwipo City and Jungmun Beach, Michelle and I slept like rocks and woke up the following morning with the desire to simply relax. Breakfast was eaten with ease amid comforting silence on the outdoor patio as several other travelers also appeared to have wanted it to remain tranquil as well. Although it was still early morning, the color of the sky was like brilliant topaz and the sun was already shinning bright. This prompted me to ask Michelle if she wanted to walk to Oedolgae Rock and then perhaps trek on the Olle Trail along the picturesque rocky shoreline. I had also briefly told her about my chance meeting eating freshly caught fish with some super friendly local Seogwipians, and while I was previously assured they were going to be there most of the week, I was not exactly sure when and I still felt a little uncertain about bringing Michelle to meet them.
My second time to Oedolgae during my time in Seogwipo was much better than the first. It was an enchanting moment with Michelle, and also because there were not bus-loads of tourists clogging the narrow trails.
After relaxing and relishing the views surrounding Oedolgae, I pointed to the Olle trail and mentioned that we could grab a cup of coffee at an artsy, tranquil cafe a few kilometers up the shoreline. With a similar penchant for distinct cafes, Michelle agreed almost instantly.
The sun and heat were a bit unforgiving. By the time we reached the cafe, I was dripping with sweat and was aching for something cold to drink. While I felt the urge to continue trekking, it was surely nice to spend some time in a super air-conditioned cafe with an iced latte. The sweat from my brow quickly dissipated, and once Michelle and I felt relaxed and recharged, I offered another idea that we continue on the trail toward the coconut dealer that I stopped at a few days before, and then head down to the rocky shoreline in order to catch a serene view and perhaps join the friendly Seogwipians, if there were there, for some good conversation, fresh fish, and soju.
I guzzled my ice-cold coconut milk and then we walked down the steep staircase to the rocky shore. Immediately upon reaching the bottom, one of the Seogwipians whom I had spent time with a few days earlier, recognized me and then offered that we join the large group that was already congregating up the shoreline. Michelle and I concurred, but I didn’t want to return empty-handed, so I rushed up the staircase and conveniently purchased a few bottles of chilled Jeju makkeolli from the coconut dealer.
With my hands full, I carefully guided Michelle over the rocks until we reached the canvass-covered hangout, where a group of about 10-12 locals and some children were awaiting our arrival with cordial smiles and a welcoming demeanor. Without a moment to lose, I offered the group the makkeolli I had recently purchased and then was given a plate full of pork, rice, and kim-chi in return, in addition to a few shots of soju to go along with it. It was a feast full of character, laughter, and solace.
Michelle quickly became acquainted with a few of the friendly, sociable women, and it was nice to see her dive right into this situation without difficulty.
While a little apprehensive at the beginning, Michelle found her stride with this group of locals and had a pleasant time chatting with them. The women continuously asked and were curious of how Michelle and I met, when we were planning to get married, and also encouraged us to return to Jeju for our honeymoon. These women were super benevolent and appeared not to have a single worry in the world. Their energetic enthusiasm and happiness for life certainly rubbed off on us, and we felt sublime.
Shortly after eating a handful of pork, a few of the men returned with a fresh fish catch, and one of the women, kindly excited, rushed up to happily examine what was caught.
Ten minutes later we had a fresh fish feast.
i couldn’t tell you what exact fish I was eating, and I honestly forgot the Korean name for it, but it was some of the best fish I’ve ever eaten. It was so succulent, smooth, melt-in-your-mouth fish, and I devoured all that was given me. A sizable octopus was also caught, and I was given some sliced pieces, but I found it to be quite detestable. I’ve had cooked octopus before and was able to handle it, but this raw octopus I could not. Michelle didn’t seem to have much of a problem, but for me, it was like chewing on a car tire and I found that my mouth could not negotiate its taste and texture. Therefore, I surreptitiously tossed it aside and continued to gobble up the fresh fish.
After our fill, Michelle and I took a dip in pools of ice-cold water that formed amid the rocks from a small freshwater stream that flowed into the sea.
After reclining in these pools of soothing water and cooling off for quite some time, Michelle and I kindly spent the next hour eating more food and drinking a little more soju amid attempting to say goodbye. The Seogwipians didn’t want us to leave. I felt they enjoyed our company and implored us to stay longer, but then eventually understood that we had to be on our way. We exchanged addresses and were encouraged to get in contact with them next time we visit Jeju, and we assured them we would.
The remainder of our final full-day was spent relaxing in Seogwipo amid savoring a tasty dinner and delicious figs that we were able to find at the local outdoor market. The following morning we set off back to Jeju airport and returned to Seoul before we knew it. My return to Jeju and my time with Michelle in Seogwipo was like a dream. Instantly upon our return to Seoul, we realized that we would have to jump back into reality after having spent some of the most pleasurable days in Seogwipian paradise, and that our longing to return would remain tenacious and hopefully imminent.