Friday, September 27, 2013

Back to Jeju Island for Chuseok

Chuseok is a Korean holiday that is something like Thanksgiving.  It happens in the fall, but the exact date changes I think depending on the moon, it happens at the same time as the full moon festival in China. This year was a few weeks earlier than last.  From what I understand it's a big family event here, people go to the tombs of family, clean up the grave site, then everyone eats together.  But for those of us who are not Korean it is just a week off from school.

A lot of coworkers took  long trips, Indonesia seemed to be the destination of choice this year.  Several others went to Palau.  A lot of the new families did not go anywhere since we are only a few weeks into the school year and there was not much time to plan a trip.  We decided to split the difference, we didn't want to invest in a huge trip, but we wanted to get away, so we decided to return to Jeju Island for a few days, the same place we went last Chuseok.

Jeju is sometimes described as "the Hawaii of Korea"  which is an unfair comparison.  I've never been to Hawaii but it seems pretty spectacular, and really it sets the bar too high.  Jeju is a volcanic island like Hawaii so they have that in common, and on it's own it is a very pretty island, it's just when you compare it to Hawaii that it comes up short.

It is easy to get to, less than an hour flight from Seoul.  We flew out early Monday morning.  The tickets were $20 cheaper if we took the first flight, so we left the house at 5:30 to catch a 7:30 flight, and we landed at 8:20.  The kids are becoming really experienced travelers, even August is getting good at it.
boarding from the stairs on the runway always makes me feel like I am really traveling

iPads are the secret to peaceful travel

We rented a two bedroom house that worked out perfectly for us.  It was a little out of the way, but we had rented a car and with GPS and google maps on our phones we were able to find it pretty easily. There are a few major roads around the island and then all of the residential roads are ridiculously narrow and lined with stone walls.  When we got to the house the owner met us, a really nice guy, he showed us around, let us know the refrigerator was stocked, and then we settled in.
August playing the cello before it was put safely away

Irish calm in the middle as children flop around her

We spent the next three days swimming, sleeping, eating, reading, and swimming some more.  It was an incredibly pleasant way to spend our time.

There is a strange relationship with rules in Korea.  When driving people only marginally follow the rules, we have never seen anyone pulled over (although I have found out there a lot of cameras, I recently received a parking ticket and a speeding ticket in the mail.  If I had a Korean GPS I would have been warned every time I got close to a police camera)  At the beaches though, someone decided that swimming is only allowed from June to August, so even though it was a warm sunny day, swimming season is over, and most Korean people seemed to obey, almost no Korean people were in the water, and a lot were dressed up in Autumn clothing, kind of appropriate for the calendar, not at all appropriate for the actual conditions. We saw the signs below written in Chinese, English Korean and Japanese, and we ignored them.

We tested out the waterproof camera. It worked.

And finally, some pictures of sunsets. Growing up on the east coast sun setting on the water remains a novelty for me.