Monday, July 16, 2007

Jejudo Vacation: Part Two

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Up early, leisurely morning with Katherine, nibbled breakfast, did some studying from her preschool and kindergarten textbooks till Bry awoke. The view out our kitchen window overlooks a peaceful field of Korean white radishes, and straw-hatted aunties crouching in the rows harvesting.

Time for some kid-centred entertainment! Our plan for the morning, to visit ‘Dinoville’ about a block down the highway from our villa, falls through as we realize that it is still very much ‘under construction’… Worth the stop however to get a photo of a kilted dinosaur!

Quick stop at the Boat Terminal on the docks to get time of ferry departure – 8:20 in the morning or 5:00 in the afternoon. Guess we’ll be getting up early, then…

Attempt at Jeju Folk Museum equally a failure – a sign across the gates informs us it’s closed from June 25 – 28! We stop at the small but carefully detailed Jeju National Museum instead. Lovely architecture integrating traditional and modern, indoor and out – and we appreciate the air- conditioning… A nine-foot-across model of the island sits in the main lobby, under a stained-glass dome depicting the same, with Hallasan the focal point of both. Displays are neat and modern, unfortunately signed in Korean only. Dioramas, models, artifacts, tools, art and photos are nicely mixed to give a sense of the island’s drama and its history, from its use by the Mongols as an open-air horse stable centuries ago to its contemporary incarnation as a semi-tropical honeymoon destination.

The giftshop is far too tempting with its rows of English books and reproductions, but our selective browsing yields a beautiful grey silk tie patterned with fishing boats for Bry, and orange chocolates for ‘pasalubong’ (that wonderful Filipino word for ‘stuff you have to bring back from vacation for all the friends and family who didn’t get to go…’)

Rework plans yet again. Beach is out of question as we are all three sunburned and tender. Recourse to much-folded map yields new plan: Jungmun Resort area in Sogwipo – and getting there half the fun using the highway round the other side of Halla-san.

Green, misty, romantic road winding between lushly-green semi-jungle foliage: thuja occidentalis, Japanese cedar, short-needle pine, wild hydrangeas, shrub bamboo, ferns, and more. The road opens up into equally green horse pastures framed with the inescapable black-rock walls. We stop to socialize with one herd, undoubtedly descendants of the Mongolian ponies; I lure a sturdy mare over with lip ‘prrrrrts’ and grass for Katherine’s benefit. Much enjoyed by everyone, including the local tourists who want to take Kath’s picture on their cell phones…

Lunch at a deserted restaurant just inside the Jungmun area specializing in the Jejudo ‘black pork’. After a bit of discussion about exactly how much meat they would be willing to provide us, and for how much, we arrive at an amicable solution and are served. We share excellent (thin, not greasy, full of tender seafood) haemul pajeon (seafood & green onion crepe), kongi bap (steamed rice) with sang-chu (loose leaf lettuce) and the famous black pork, grilled like samgyopsal but much tastier. Plus all the side dishes (mashed chilled potato with dok-style crumbs on top!) , it comes to ee-man-won – twenty bucks for a fabulous local feed.

Sound Museum – Bry naps in car while Kath and Mom swelter their way through a confusing but delightful collage of a museum which pays homage to Bell and Edison, stops briefly to flirt with seashells and fetal development, displays hundreds of ethnic instruments, has interactive electronic music, and features Nipper as ‘His Master’s Voice’ throughout. There are plenty of musical instruments laid out on the top floor which can simply be picked up and experimented with, from shakers and sticks to an electric organ and a full drum set! Katherine particularly loves the step-on-the-keys piano and Judy bewails having to leave in time to catch the Dolphin Show at the Pacific Aquarium next door…


Aquarium: Performance has three parts, unfortunately beginning with the Monkey Show, which I would have chosen to avoid otherwise. Disgusted by reluctant macaques in kitchy outfits dragging their upright bodies through the paces a flat-faced ‘trainer’ orders. An alert eye can easily distinguish aggressive snarls or open-mouth ‘fear’ hisses in response to a threatening command, or to the human hands literally dragging monkey limbs into artificial poses (the ‘situps’ were quite nauseating to watch…) I observe no positive reinforcement such as treats; rather quite the reverse - cuffing and clapping near the face or foot in order to elicit desired behavior. At one point the smallest macaque which often has its back to the crowd – cowering? – completely refuses to stand and ‘take its bow’ and the ‘trainer’ literally kicks it around with a quick swipe of his boot while dragging one of its arms upright. Only a couple of routines which take advantage of natural monkey agility and ability (as the Everland zoo, for example, has incorporated) are demonstrated, and the rest are designed to play to an animal-ignorant crowd that prefers slapstick mimicry.

Thankfully the Sealion Show which follows hard on the heels of the all-too-happy-to-leave monkeys is a definite level up. The pretty girl who trots out with a fish-bits reinforcing bucket strapped into the small of her back is clearly fond of her charges, stroking down their sleek backs and heads to encourage their posing on their platforms, and the routines are in general ones which show off the marvelous musculature of seal necks and bodies: ball catching/balancing/tossing, jumping, and diving.

The Dolphin Show is the third part, and the best, for not only have the trainers wisely chosen to use minimal props and mummery to exhibit their animals’ skills, the dolphins themselves seem to enjoy the play. None of us have ever been so close to a living sea creature, and the powerful sleek bodies shooting by under the water are awe-inspiring. They ‘tail-walk’, lifting almost two-thirds of themselves into the air, roll, backstroke, leap in marvelous arcs both forward and backward, and slap huge beachballs with an effortless stroke of their tails. I am taken completely aback when the four dolphins ‘hover’ at the edge of the water and break into ‘song’ – vocalizing with long squeaks, moans, and chortles. In some way this touches me even more than the delight in their physical beauty.


We loiter on the grounds after the performance, enjoying the clifftop view over the black rocks and rolling surf below. A few brave swimmers are playing in the shallows, but the wind is up and the waves high – though not quite high enough for the two wet-suited surfers who are waiting for more spectacular curls. We are all enthralled by the big-eyed, silvery-coated harbour seal pup who bobs upright in his enclosure, looking as innocent as a cradleboarded babe. Huge lashes, sleek spotted fur, and an adorable short muzzle topped with nostrils that flare open and closed as easily as one might blink … combined with an elegance that few baby things possess…. it is no wonder we linger flirting with him for a while.

Fortunately for this baby, his fur is not in danger, and he seems to enjoy his fellow inmates – penguins. He dashes happily round the pool after the five Adelies, who one and all indignantly exit after too close a nip at their hind ends. “It’s always fun,” they seems to be saying as they stand on the edge preening ruffled feathers and squacking back and forth, ‘till someone loses a flipper!” Personally, I enjoy watching the penguins transform from graceful, if rather portly, torpedoes in the water, to waddling, comical Chaplins on land, but could wish they had been a bit more sporting for the suddenly crest-fallen pup’s sake.

The whole Jungmun area has a strangely deserted feel – not that it is dilapidated, but it seems to have been built for a much larger venue, and the few tourists moving through the summer humidity make it look more loomingly empty rather than grand. We had all three floors of the Sound Museum, for example, completely to ourselves, the restaurant ditto, and Pacifica only the front third of the seats full. Ah, well, never complain about having more room than you need; far too often the reverse is true.

Home on the already-familiar 1135, and the villa to welcome us in air-conditioned comfort! A quiet pick-up dinner of odds and ends, left-over chicken-kass, and bread & jam suits us all after a fun but tiring day. Made arrangements with Ajusshi re key and leaving tomorrow. Had a good time studying and reading with Katherine before her bedtime. Catch up with journaling and so to bed.

The traveler in a lone bed cannot sleep in peace –

The frosty moon often peeps through his curtain with looks so pale.

Kim Sakkhat, ‘Nan-gu’, 1802 – 1864


Friday, June 29, 2007

Up revoltingly early, thanks to our little animated alarm clock, who crawls in between us at six in the morning. Ah well, this time we appreciate it. Breakfast at six-thirty, an efficient pack-up and sweep of the villa, drop the key in the mailbox for the security guard, load the car in the drizzling rain – and we pull out just as it begins to pour. An almost solid wall of water all the way into Jeju City, complete with lightning and thunder. Thankfully it lightens as we drive the car onto the waiting ferry, buy our tickets, and shuttle over to the passenger terminal. Laden with blanket, pillow, computer, and BCB (Big Colourful Bag, full of stuff to keep Kath happy en route), we stagger through the gates and onboard.

The crew remembers us and greets us with grins. We settle into a corner of the carpeted ‘cabin’ and claim it with our bags and blanket. Katherine and Judy stay above-decks to bid farewell to Jejudo while Bry falls asleep. She is finally lured back down with chocolate mushroom cookies and settles into playing with her new box of animals, while Judy catches up on journaling and Herbarium entries.

As passengers with a car on board, we are invited with the blare of the ferry horn and the intercom about fifteen minutes before docking in Wando to line up and wait below-decks in our cars. The huge rusty space is dank, with sunlight – finally - filtering in rays through the gaps above us. Eventually the sailors work their way down the line, kicking the triangular wooden chocks away from tires and unhooking the chains from the undercarriages, and we’re all free to creep off over the rebarred metal drawbridge onto the dock.

We haven’t planned where to stop for the night, assuming we’ll just see how far we can get before tiring of driving. Kwangju, a rather pedestrian city, does not tempt us again, but there are plenty of other towns on the way up the peninsula. The weather has cleared, and we’re well on our way through the small roads up onto the mainland from Wando – with one unscheduled screeching halt to pick up a beach shovel from Katherine’s Pooh set that somehow ‘fell’ out the window – before we need to halt for a leg-stretch and bathroom break at a large rest area.

Back in the car, listening to tunes and checking the map periodically. Judy says rather wistfully that while the food has generally been good over the past week, she really hopes they can fit in one last ‘indulgence’ on their vacation – a Western meal. Bryan gives her a sharp look and enquires if the Outback in Suwon would suit her, to which the response is an enthusiastic affirmative. “Very well,” states the intrepid driver, ‘how about eating there tonight?

After having convinced his wife that he is neither mad nor jesting, he proceeds to eat up the miles northward to just that end. We cover most of the peninsula in about eight hours of driving, and at about six o’clock in the evening are sitting down to a feast of BBQ Ribs with salad and baked potato, Alice Springs Chicken with Outback fries, and – of course – chocolate milk for Katherine, who has been absolutely angelic on the grueling drive. It doesn’t, despite expectations, keep her awake, and Bry must carry her out of the restaurant with small head drooping on his shoulder when we are ready to leave. Hwy 42, our faithful old friend, takes us into Yongin and home.

My wandering heart is like a reed leaf

floating in the sea of mist

In the eve I bid farewell everywhere.

Kim Sakkhat, ‘Nan-gu’, 1802 – 1864



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5 Comments:

Anonymous Susan said...

It is so nice to hear of your vacation experiences--such detailed descriptions allow us to almost experience it too! I pity the monkeys, though. How soon do you have to get back to work?
All the best,
Susan

July 17, 2007 at 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Long Lost Friends!

I too am in Korea. I am teaching at Kyungsung University in Busan. I'm starting my fifth year in Korea. We have to get together! (
Chuseok is extra long this year! haha! I have fallen prey to Korean culture and use a cellphone. Call me at 010 3142 0449 or email me at heather@ks.ac.kr

It would be great to meet up with you again.

Love Heather

July 18, 2007 at 7:13 AM  
Blogger Ken DV said...

Happy Birthday Judy! Write often!

August 29, 2007 at 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Susan said...

I keep checking to see if you have added any new stories, and keep going away disappointed! I hope you will soon update us on how you all are!!
Still thinking of you often, Susan

October 20, 2007 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger Leigh Ann said...

Hey, Guys!!

It's Keith & Leigh Ann - long lost Myong Ji cohorts!! If you get this comment, go to www.liberty92.wordpress.com to catch LA's blog. Hope to hear form you all soon! Great pix!! Looks like there's a little Alkema. :) Can't wait to catch up...

K & LA Wayne

January 24, 2008 at 6:20 PM  

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