Good-Bye Jeju! (This time I mean it!)
Trip Start Dec 02, 2011
43Trip End Dec 02, 2012
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I checked out of my hotel (I'll spare you the suspense and tell you that this time it was for real) and boarded the number 500 city bus, which my guidebook said went to the Jejumok-Gwana. My guidebook was correct. The bus did stop there, but the stop name was Gwandoekjeong (관덕정), not Jejumok-Gwana. This was a fact that my guidebook didn't bother to note.
So of course, looking at the route map posted on the bus, I didn't see Jejumok-Gwana. I had the map in my guidebook, so I thought I could estimate where to get off. We were on the right road when I got off the bus too early, out front of the Jeju Confucian Academy. The academy was a group of old-style Korean buildings, so I didn't feel bad about being fooled. Fortunately, there was a second number 500 bus that came not two minutes after my original bus had departed, so I quickly hopped back on.
A few more blocks and the bus came to yet another group of old Korean buildings, because I had been fooled once before, and the stop name wasn't Jejumok-Gwana, I did not get off. One block later, the bus turned off the street I knew my destination was on, so I got off the bus at the very next stop and hopped into a cab.
Today, however, even my tried and true technique of taking a cab to the actual location failed me. I showed the driver the Jejumok-Gwana in my guidebook, including Korean writing, and he said no problem. On the way there, he said Jejumok-Gwana followed by Gwandoekjeong, a centuries-old pavilion, which my guidebook said was on the grounds of the Jejumok-Gwana. (Not so coincidentally, it was also the name of the bus stop I needed, but I didn't recognize it when I saw the stop name on the bus map.) I said, "yes", and he proceeded to repeat the building names and point in two opposite directions
The Jejmok-Gwana was a mid-sized cluster of buildings. While the only building surviving from several centuries ago was the aforementioned Gwandoekjeong, the rest of the grounds had been recently reconstructed from historical descriptions and images of the buildings. Although the buildings weren't authentically old, I enjoyed my visit. They gave you a good idea of how things looked during the heyday of the Joseon dynasty, and it was a pleasant place for a stroll.
After lunch at a nearby underground mall, I flagged a taxi to take me to the ferry terminal. Again, I showed my cab driver the name of my desired destination in Korean, and again I ended up at the wrong location. Jeju had two ferry terminals: the domestic terminal and the "international" terminal, although there weren't any actual international ferries leaving from Jeju. My ferry to Mokpo left from the international terminal, which the map I'd gotten from the ferry company clearly said in Korean
Once inside the international terminal, I discovered that the best place to by souvenir Jeju Island chocolate was at the ferry terminal. I was idly staring at a box of orange chocolates when the owner of the store came over to sell it to me. I asked how much and she said 10,000 won (which was 5,000 cheaper than Chocolate Land) then immediately proceeded to throw in a second box of free cactus chocolates before I'd had a chance to react to the price. Even after I'd given her the money for the boxes, she continued sweeten the already done deal by throwing a couple handfuls of chocolates in my bag. Sweet.
Even with a bag full of chocolate, there must be something about me that makes me look very hungry. I was sitting on the floor (no seats left in the terminal) doing a bit of people watching before I took out my book to read, when yet another Korean randomly offered me an ear of corn. While preferable to yesterday's red-bean ball, I really don't like corn either
My ticket back to Mokpo, like my ticket from Yeosu, was 3rd class. Only this time there were nice, big, comfy seats. There was a crowd boarding the boat, but for some reason there was a separate superfluous "foreigner" gate, with basically no one going through it. It seemed odd to have the gate since the ferry was domestic, but I was told to use it and had to show my ID to someone pretending to be an immigration officer so he could check my name against some list.
Once on the boat, I didn't do any exploring. Although Mokpo was a bit farther than Yeosu, the Mokpo ferries were much faster and the trip only took three hours. I did notice there were ample empty seats on the ferry. Sure some of those belonged to people wandering the boat, but even accounting for that there was no way seats were sold out. Maybe the woman on Tuesday looked at the wrong day when she told me Saturday was full too. I don't know.
So, Jeju was ... interesting. I'd say in spite of my logistical difficulties, I still had a decent time. I don't think I'd want to go there in the summer again, but I'd love to go back sometime in the spring or fall to hike Halla-san and the Olle Trail.