Can I be completely honest?
On my very first solo travel, I made a white lie to my mom. I told her that I am going to Korea as a blogger for a sponsored trip--which is true. I said that I will be with other bloggers, now that's the part where I lied, huhu I'm so sorry.
On my first solo travel, to be fair, I was supposed to be with a friend so I can use my airfare prize from a blog contest that I just won. Since we both went to Seoul already, we both agreed that we should also go to Jeju Island for a change. And so I booked everything from the domestic airfare to our hostels. Then my friend got sick and cancelled the last minute. With everything already paid for, I was still determined to push through even though this means going alone for the first time.
It was indeed one of the best experiences I've had in my life! Sweet independence, late autumn in a beautiful land, experiencing Korea's first snowfall of the year... but still, something's lacking. I cannot fully update my family on my going-ons because they will notice I was alone. I cannot post too much and update my social media because it will also be super obvious. The experience is nice, but not fully perfect. That's what I tried to change in my recent trip to South Korea.
When I left for Korea, my mom only knew I will be staying with my childhood friend Marj in Seoul. She had no idea that her daughter is already plotting the great Winter in Korea expedition including stops in Jeju and Busan, haha! I was so scared to tell her that I am going alone and not with my friend, so I let it pass for the first day.
I don't know what timing I did, but on the morning of my first full day in Jeju I decided to casually slide the message in our family's group chat: "Mom nasa Jeju-Busan ako ngayon, sorry hindi ko kasama si Marj. Okay naman dito and safe. Balik din ako sa Seoul in 5 days."
I did it! Whew!
So this is my first solo travel that is fully consented by my parentals. I know I am already old and these things shouldn't matter anymore, but it felt nice to be truthful and open once and for all--especially to people who really care for me.
The best part is, my fear of getting scolded did not happen--ni hindi man lang sila nagalit! They are worried, yes, but they did not stop me from living my dreams. I am glad that we are establishing a more open communication now, I guess I was just scared last year because my parents used to be very strict and the biggest worrywarts that I know.
Now that I know these facts, I just make sure that I don't give them reasons to worry. I always update them even if they don't ask for it. I send lots of photos every chance I got. There are location pictures with captions "next time tayo naman punta", there are endless annoying selfies only my mom will appreciate, and of course there's the series of "good night photos" when I am back in my hostel room just to show the parentals that I am safe and ready to sleep.
When they also sent me their photos, from food packages that arrived that they're already eating, or our dog Keeks' old antics that I still gush over, I feel very much satisfied.
Okay, so the above photos all came from my walk in our neighborhood the first time I stepped out of the hostel. Obviously a result of last night's snowstorm plus the fact that the snowfall still continued on that day, thus you see the heavy winter wonderland snow buildup. It was such a hassle to the locals, but magical in the eyes of your tropical girl.
Before stepping out, I asked the ahjussi for the directions to the ferry, an activity that I booked online prior this trip. He said that it's just walking distance from our hostel, around 30 minutes. I know that 30 minutes to them is like 45 minutes IRL, but what the heck! I had no plans for the day except the cruise and was up for a slow, snowy stroll.
The street of my hostel is a food district:
Jeju is very popular for their tangerines:
I saw two clusters of white snowy dogs in one of the houses I passed by, they look so cute snuggled together but ang scary nila when they all noticed me taking their photos haha!
Are these cabbages for kimchi?
After a few minutes, I finally saw the port area. Thank you Google Maps! I was still too early for my cruise so I dined in a Korean resto beside an Angel-in-Us Coffee just to rest, have lunch, and warm my cold hands.
Saw Jeju's Saeyeongyo Bridge:
When I got my ticket, I still have a few minutes before boarding so I had my second cup of coffee for the day. Super chill day talaga!
The view from outside the coffee place. I was already contemplating if the cruise will really push through in this weather!
.... And it did!
Baby Let's Cruise!
It was snowing once again as I walked for the 60-minute Seogwipo Ferry Cruise, good thing there's also a couple heading for the ship and so I followed right behind them.
I've experienced a cruise in Seoul before in the famous Han River, and I super loved it. Ferry tours for me is a more chill way to go around and see some of the city's popular sites in an instant. I also enjoy watching the locals enjoy their time with the families, friends, or loved ones--feeding the seagulls, taking selfies, or just listening to the onboard entertainment while having their snacks. Usually during a cruise, ako lang ang tourist so I know it's a very Korean activity. Super naeenjoy ko to!
When we started to move, I got up from my seat to check out the view from the ship's windows that you can actually open. People will brave the doors to get pictures from the boat's deck even though it's extra cold that day!
Later on, we were blessed with a little warmth from the peeking sun, so I went out to watch a couple feeding the seagulls. You can also buy the fish from the snacks stand. Super nakakaaliw coz ang lapit lapit talaga ng seagulls!
I am not well-researched for the sights we were about to see from the boat haha, so I will just share some of the photos I took as we passed by them. The first time I stuck my head out of the boat's window, strong winds crashing my face, I almost cried "I am the king of the world!" hahaha, I get you now Jack!!! 😂😂
Jeju is very popular for their unique rock formations. I wonder how I wasted my first time there in 2016 just going to museums when the real beauty of the island is seeing it from outside.
Our boat went halfway through one of the caves, and our entertaining host said something in Korean that cued all the guests standing on the ship's deck to shout! I followed shortly, and realized that the rock opening sent echoes of our cries! Aliw na aliw ako, haha!
After the cruise, and still had loads of time before sunset, I went inside a tourist information center to ask for advice on where I can go next. I learned that the Cheonjiyeon Falls is just around the corner, also "walking distance" from the port. Now I realized that staying in Seogwipo is really a good decision when in Jeju. Almost magkakalapit na everything, you just have to walk and walk!
They charged me 2000 KRW for the entrance. There's a checker as you walk further so make sure to buy a ticket!
The walk to Cheonjiyeon Falls is like stepping inside a Christmas snow globe. Everything's white, covered with tiny, delicate snow flakes! I am so in love with the scenery, I was smiling the whole time pretending I am inside a mellow Kdrama emoting for a lost love, HAHA!
I wasn't literally alone during my walks though, I was either with a couple or a family. A small family stood out, their son maybe in his 20s insists on taking photos with his mom or dad in every corner we passed by. Ang sweet nya! I also heard him say noona when I raised my camera and I knew he was talking about me, haha! Super cute, he even did the piggyback pose with his dad huhu!
*Insert me here*
Statues called the Dol Hareubangs, gods of protection and fertility you will often see outside of gates in Jeju... They even have this at the airport.
Rubbing the dragon's pearl is said to be lucky and will bring prosperity, at inavail ko naman hehe:
Allow me to flood you with photos of branches and leaves covered with snow:
By the end of the route is one of Jeju's treasures: the Cheonjiyeon Falls, literally means "sky connected with land".
Ended my tour with a hot coffee in Angel-in-Us:
Nighttime in Jeju
Sun has set as I walked to my next destination, so I decided to just turn around and go back near my hostel. There's a Maeil Olle traditional market just a few blocks from where I am staying, a perfect last stop for the day. I was also hoping to have my dinner here, but I just strolled from end to end.
When you look up, there are ceiling displays showing photos of the different attractions around Jeju:
Well I ended up with the most cliche dinner in Korea that I can think of at that moment: Dined in the nearest convenience store with my hot cheese instant ramyeun! I realized that I've been meaning to have this meal for a long long time because of my Kdramas, haha!! ~ Ahhh, after the day of cold, the endless snow, and the damp weather, this cheap thrill tasted like the best noodles I've ever had in my life!
To be continued!!!
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Watch my Winter in Korea Day 3 Instagram Stories: