Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Jeju island: Part 1

Five star accomodation

Jungmun beach (you can see our lifeguard stand if you look close)

I'm back from Jeju island to find the rainy season has abruptly ended. July was constant rain, everyday almost without fail. The forecast for August seems to be hot, hot, hot and humid. This summer weather makes me feel like I'm back home again. Unless I'm in the classroom, I'm usually wearing a constant sweat bead moustache and my clothes are drenched. I wake up now before 7 not to the light of the sun like before but to the HEAT of the sun.

The weather on Jeju was perfect beach weather everyday. The only respite from the heat in the weather was a refreshing short summer storm on Saturday. Overall, the trip was a good one, although not exactly relaxing. I traveled all around the island, sleeping every night in a different place including several saunas, a lifeguard stand on the beach, a home stay with a Korean family, and a couchsurfing couch.

The first night John met me at the airport with Sonny, who drove us to his house in Jeju City where his wife Maggie had dinner waiting for us (at 10:00 pm), complete with pumpkin from their garden followed with watermelon. John had met Sonny on a beach and Sonny had insisted that we do a homestay for a night. Sonny was a funny character whom I began to refer to as 'The King of Idioms'. He must have spent some serious time studying books devoted to English idioms, as he seriously had one for every situation. Their bookshelves were full of English learning books and many of the classics in English. After we went to our room-- a mattress on the floor surrounded with a much needed mosquito net-- I found a book called 'Sexy English' on the book shelf. We were shocked at some of the slang words included and couldn't quite imagine Sonny studying and memorizing them. We were dying trying not to wake our hosts up with our laughter when we came to the section on mispronunciation, complete with drawings for mistakes such as, "I put some clean shits on the bed", "The audience crapped for a long time after the concert", and "Rots of ruck on your coming erection" (Lots of luck on your coming election)!

The next day Sonny and Maggie had planned out a complete itinerary for the day with visits to places such as Miniature World, the Chocolate Museum and a green tea farm. I told Sonny that honestly we didn't care much for seeing any museums and would just love to go to the beach.(Other random museums Jeju boasts are the Africa Museum, Cinema Museum, and Tangerine Museum.) He was obviously relieved about the suggestion and we all piled in the van, along with their 25 year old son, Chance, for the beach. Twice on the way, we went the wrong way on the street, making John feel right at home. At one of the three beaches we went to, John and I gave Sonny and Chance a swimming lesson. Later, thinking the 20 minute swimming lesson was sufficient enough, Sonny swam out to the deep part where John and I were floating around and I had to drag him back to safety. My lifeguard training actually came in handy again!

Saturday night Sonny and Maggie dropped us off at a bus stop where we caught a bus to Jungmun beach. (Sonny secretly told John to take me to a romantic beach and had spent much time telling us how perfect of a "couple" we were. Koreans don't seem to understand the concept of platonic male/female friendships. It was amusing though nonetheless.) John and I had a grand time swimming after dark, burying each other in the sand and then sleeping in the lifeguard stand on the beach. Unfortunately for John, I stole the sleeping bag in my sleep (I swear I don't remember!) and he froze all night. The mosquitoes got revenge on me for him though: I woke up with 24-- I counted-- mosquito bites only on my legs. John had 2.

After John woke me up at 6 am I walked up to the Hyatt looking like a barefoot and homeless child to brush my teeth and get some water. On my way, I was teased by the most delicious looking brunch ever-- watermelon, oranges, bananas, omletes, potatoes, waffles, juices-- and I was starving. We played on the beach for a few hours until our growling stomachs couldn't take it anymore-- there was a serious lack of food on this beach. John shouted my breakfast at the Hyatt and we ate until we could barely move, taking advantage of the gourmet food and air conditioning. It was delicious...