I Left My Heart In JejuAir
Post-traveling leaves too much stories in my heart.
And although life lately consists of events and Bloggers United duties (sadly, setting aside my @simpleMNL business for the meantime, huhuhu), it's so hard to just let go of these stories. Time is crucial.
Anyway, during my day 2 in Korea, I felt that I wasted - well - a lot of time. I feel that I made poor decisions, booking a flight to Jeju Island in the afternoon, leaving me again with a day spent more inside a transportation or the airport, and less time to go about "exploring". Again, time is crucial.
So I woke up early for Day 2 to prepare for my check-out at the New Sun Guesthouse. I decided to leave early, forego breakfast, and just bring everything with me as I head out. I said goodbye to my Airbnb host for the second time.
Lugging my maleta and backpack, I stopped over one of the restaurants that I enjoyed during my last Spring trip, Pomato, which is just across the train station near our guesthouse (Hoehyeon Station).
At 5000 Won (or Php 220!) I had a bowl of authentic bibimbap, and access to unlimited kimchi! The place is always filled with locals which I think is a good sign.
I was checking my online accounts on the train to Gimpo International Airport when I saw an email from Airbnb asking me to leave a comment about my experience so I can also open my host's message about me. It was in Korean. I translated it via Google, and here's what I got, huhuhu.
I am no expert in traveling, but I'm proud that I flawlessly navigated my way to the Gimpo International Airport--purely by commute! I just followed the train signs going to the domestic departure, and then stopped and asked when I see Information booths along the way.
Again, even though my Seoul Metro app says that travel time is only 13 minutes, it pays to have an hour of allowance just in case you get lost, or train experiences delays, or you move extremely slower than usual because of your heavy baggage (hehe). I arrived at the check-in counters without heart attacks!
At that time, I haven't seen Descendants of the Sun, but I took this photo of Soon Jong-Ki for JejuAir for future reference (hehehe).
Okay, so my decision to fly to Jeju came about while I was researching few days before travel date. I was on a bus to an event when I checked the options on how to go to Jeju (I've booked my lodging first before considering transportation, haha!).
So you can either go by plane, bus, ferry, or train (more on these in this article). When you read through the directions, taking the three latter options entail more time and transfers. So I downloaded the JejuAir app to check plane tickets from Seoul to Jeju and can't believe that fares are less than Php 3000 roundtrip! I also picked the airport nearest from my guesthouse (thus, Gimpo instead of Incheon Airport).
In total, I only spent 69,000 Won or Php 2900 roundtrip, even though I booked two days before departure! Imagine if you book in advance! This is the best option for me for now.
And so before I knew it, I was already boarding a different airline, bound to another side of Korea. Exciting times!
I had no expectations from this short flight, which is just around an hour estimate. I just want to arrive safe, check-in my stuff at the guesthouse as soon as possible so I can make the most of the day. I was thinking of maybe catching some sleep.
When I sat on my window seat (as requested), a boy sat next to me, and without thinking twice or looking at the person he's with, he stared at me and said in a cute, cheery voice, "Hi!". I said "hi!" back, then looked away. But he insisted and said "Hi!" two or three more times.
Adulting made me a little bit less close to kids compared to when I was still in school. But here's a boy that made this plane ride interesting. :)
He was with his dad, who immediately fell asleep as soon as he fastened his seatbelt (okaaay). The boy kept on saying hi to me, talking to me in Korean, so it tested my small talk skills again. And although I tried to talk to him in English, his forehead will wrinkle a little, flashing me with an awkward smile. :) He even recited the "A! B! C!" to me just to show that we can communicate, even a little.
Even with the language barrier, we kept each other company for the whole ride. Is it safe to say, that we talked the whole time? :)
I lent him my camera because it's the only "toy" that I can show off to this adorable boy. He took the following photos:
His cute "Trans-foh-mer" toy!
His dad, who looks like John Kim from Oh My Venus! Hehehe.
I asked for his age around 5x before he understood. "Seven!". Then, pointing to myself, I told him that I am "Thirty". The boy then pointed to his sleeping dad and blurted out that, "He's forty!" Hahahaha, walang kaalam-alam si daddy!
When the flight attendant passed by with cups of water, I asked for two and gave the other one to the boy, whose name sounds like Mikki. He adorably said, "THANK YOU!", which made me want to give him more! Hahahaha!
When we were running out of things to say, I took my JejuAir magazine JoinEnJoy and flipped through the pages. I saw a map and told Mikki that I came from the Philippines. The FAs also gave away twisted balloons to the kids, so for the rest of the flight, we were just playing baril-barilan where my acting skills were tested (hahaha).
To be sure that I got his name right, I took a scratch paper and pen and asked him to write it down. Muici. :) Keeping this paper forever!
When the plane was landing, and I was staring outside the window as I always do during flights, I felt a tiny hand took mine and kissed it! Then, Muici said "Babay!". Huhuhu. I think I just left my heart in JejuAir!
When we landed and went on with our own lives, I had a toilet break before deciding on my game plan. I was about to get my luggage, when I heard another "Babay!" and saw Muici waving his hand, heading to the exit with his father and their luggages. It was the last time we saw each other, but I was half hoping to bump into them again while in Jeju.
When I got my bags, I decided to just ride a cab to the guesthouse since I had zero idea about Jeju. I realized then how little blog posts and stories I have heard or read about this island, so I just have to explore it from scratch.
And true enough, I encountered my first boo-boo for this trip! WAAAH!
I booked for a cheap guesthouse with good reviews via Agoda. I only paid Php 1,148 (with taxes!) for TWO nights in one of Jeju R Hotel's dormitory rooms. What a deal! I spent 5300 Won (or just Php 225) for the 15-minute taxi ride from Gimpo Airport to the guesthouse. My cab driver navigated his way through GPS.
I booked for Jeju R Hotel located in Seogwipo (one hour away from the airport), but because I was clueless about Jeju's cities, my cab dropped me off at the nearer Jeju R Hotel's Seogwang-ro branch! Who would have thought that they have two branches? But sa totoo lang, kulang lang talaga ako ng research! :D
Good thing the guesthouse receptionist can speak in English and asked me if I prefer to stay in this branch, it's okay. He asked me to add a minimal fee since prices are different between the two branches.
I was surprised when I went to my room and instead of dormitory beds, I was given THIS! My solo room and a private bathroom! I was settling down when I immediately received a call that there was a misunderstanding, HAHA! Sabi na too good to be true! Long story short, my name was mixed up with the one who reserved for this room, so I returned the keys (huhu) and went to my correct room.
Instead of a key, I only had to memorize the door's passcode to enter. There are ten beds in my room, but luckily, they made me stay in an all-female dorm. No one's checked in yet when I entered. Partly I imagined that I'll be alone that night with these many beds, wahaha.
My personal space, which is right next to the closets and the restroom.
There are two bathrooms in our room, plus another one for the whole floor. So for the whole stay, I never felt na nakikipag agawan ako ng CR. Everything's also clean and complete (tissue, towels, water, shampoo and body wash are all provided). I also have a lamp and two electrical outlets next to my bed, and several scattered outlets all-over the room.
After leaving my things, I went down again to maximize my day. I asked the receptionist for suggestions on where else I can go that's still open at that time (5pm). Unfortunately, all the tourist attractions were already closed or closing, and of course the nature attractions, although open 24/7, are just too dangerous to go to at night.
He suggested that I go to the beach, which is a thing in Jeju. Again, I only discovered this when I was there because of my rush research! Haha. I made him write down the name of the beach on a piece of paper, before rushing out.
This was just past 5pm, and it felt like nighttime already, huhu:
The bus station is just a short walk from the guesthouse. I navigated with the help of my Flytpack + Google Maps.
New cities and routes to familiarize with:
From experience, it was relatively easy to ask around in Jeju. More or less, just point to a photo of your destination on your phone, then they will give you the bus number and fare. Always double check with the driver before riding the bus.
Their transport system here consists of number coded buses or taxis. Most of the destinations are sooo far away, so taking the bus is the cheaper option. Also, you have to allot an hour to get there.
Agenda for the night was receptionist's choice, the Hamdeok Beach, which is fortunately also a bus stop. I paid 1300 Won (or Php 55) for my ticket, and went to bus number 701.
I kept track of my route by constantly opening my Google maps, missing my stop will be a nightmare! I arrived after an hour of bus ride, and it was already pitch black outside. As expected, it was extra cold and windy since it's the seaside. I strolled around, hoping to find a restaurant for a nice dinner just to justify the travel time!
All over the beachside are statues commemorating Jeju's fishermen. I've read about the Haenyeo, or the sea women, Jeju's cool female divers who are independent and strong-willed. They represent the semi-matriarchal family structure of Jeju.
Hamdeok Beach is popular for its clean, shallow, emerald-blue water. Even at night, it looks like the perfect setting for dramatic scenes in movies where the girl runs off to cry and rethink her life or something, haha!
I tried to go through my apps and Tripadvisor for recommended restaurants around Hamdeok Beach, but Cafe Delmoondo stood out among the rest as it is the closest to the beach. They have nice rustic interiors, and a beautiful patio area where I imagined myself lounging with coffee if only I arrived during daytime (hindi ako bitter, lol).
The only downside for me is the lack of food selections. I bought matcha latte so I can still sleep that night, and just chose a random cheese bread from their bread baskets for my dinner. Not so sulit for 10,500 Won (or Php 446), but then again, I was paying for the view and the room heater.
It was still early for my standards, so I walked around cold cold Hamdeok before heading for the bus stop. Final bus was still at 9:30, and it was not even 8pm when I finished my dinner! I saw a lot of seafood restaurants, a grocery, hotels, and several closed surf shops. There were a few signs of life in the area, only a few people walking around, no tourist looking, and a few parked cars along the main street. It was quiet, but in a comfortable and safe way.
When there's nothing left to do, I decided to give up on "making the most out of the day", and just waited by the bus stop for a ride back to the guesthouse.
It was my first night in the dormitory, and all beds were already occupied. I wasn't able to make friends during the whole stay, except for the Korean girl on my top bunk who offered a hairdryer when she saw me heading out in the cold with wet hair (haha!). She was also the first one who greeted me with a bow when I entered the room. I still have a lot to learn about dormitory living, but my solo first time experience is surprisingly not as bad as I thought.