“We travel, not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”–Anonymous
The weather is getting warmer, and my internal clock recognizes the time I have here is disappearing very quickly. A perfect blend to create an extra-early, extra strong dose of campus fever. So I googled “Day trips from Seoul” (because even though I’m not in Seoul, I’m close enough for these recommendations to still be day trips.) I decided on Muui Island, right outside of Incheon, near to the airport.
Not gonna lie, I’m very glad my mom didn’t come with me, (or anyone, for that matter) because what should have been a 2.5–3 hour journey ended up being 5 hours due to unclear, incomplete directions from the tourism organization website, me watching people in the subway and missing my transfer stop, me getting out of the subway at to use the bathroom, and finally, me getting out of the bus at the wrong stop. If my mom came, she would have demanded a refund and started yelling at me for not making better plans.
Yeah, getting there was quite the adventure. I was supposed to take a bus from Gimhae subway station to the outskirts of Incheon, and then another bus to the island. I felt very accomplished when I got to the right subway station, and went to the bus stop. The electric sign said the bus was coming in 16 minutes. So I sat down to wait and watch people.
And I waited and watched people and that sign for awhile.
And the sign went from 16 minutes to 34 minutes to 27 minutes.
So, I was thinking whether I should wait this out or just take the train.
And I wanted to be moving, so I took the train.
People watching on the train is always fun. And, in general, my ears perk up whenever I hear anything not in English. But there was this guy who had a loud phone conversation for a really long time, and his voice was quite brash and unpleasant. And from the 2% that I understood, the contents of this phone conversation would have been far more suited to an email. I sent a few dirty looks his way, as did almost everyone else in near proximity, but he was apparently at that stage in middle age where he didn’t care about how his actions were affecting other people. I even decided that his voice bothered me enough to get out and wait for another train.
The next train ride wasn’t much better. There was a scary old Korean grandmother that tried to set me up with a perfect stranger.
Make a note here, because this is the last time I’m ever going to say this (I think):
I’m so, so, so happy I don’t (really) understand Korean beyond basic small talk.
This grandma, after violently inviting me to sit down, starts asking me strings of questions which probably are quite rude to ask a perfect stranger. I decide this due to the fact that some other youngish guy on the train was chuckling as she asked me these questions and I just kept smiling and nodding and repeating “Student. Student.”
Then she was touching my hair, pointing to him, and waving her arms around, first gesturing toward him, then looking at me while fountains of Korean words came gushing forth. She started out by asking the guy what school he attends, addressing him as “student” although he looks like he’s at least 27, if not in his early 30’s. That much I understood. This guy is humoring her by answering her and nodding. Granny is subsequently getting more agitated and speaking faster, in what I think must not be modern Korean. At this point, I am getting kind of scared, so I start slowly moving away from her. The guy motions and nods his head that yeah, you can go sit somewhere else, but I was so confused and I didn’t want that old granny to come over and sit by me, so I got off the train.
I kind of wonder if the guy was shaking his head, saying, “Look, granny, you scared that poor foreign student so badly she left.”
You know, the stereotypical Korean person is quiet and reserved. But I have been experiencing the opposite. There’s this case here, as well as when I go downstairs to the common room and groups of Korean students are eating and talking. Koreans have a rather loud normal speaking voice, I think. And they love making phone calls! I always see people here actually talking on the phone. And they talk pretty loudly, too, . As I think about this, texting is more common in Taiwan, and when I’m back in the USA, it’s REALLY HARD for me to get people to agree to video chat with me, one due to the time difference, but I also thought that Asian people don’t like video chatting, maybe. Well, maybe they just like voice chatting. Huh. Anyway. I digress.
Then I finally got to where I should take the bus. I thought it was going to be pretty obvious where I should get off, in fact, I even had the stop name written down, but I missed it because the scenery outside didn’t match the picture in my head, so I didn’t want to get out. Then, the bus made a round somewhere outside the airport, and I decided I was going to get out somewhere soon. The LED sign on the bus said the next stop was Fairy Rock. With a name like that, well, you know the rest.
I wandered around, found a place to eat, and ordered a bowl of soup that cost me 8,000 KRW. (this is comparatively expensive for a meal) BUT, it was a hole-in-the-wall, and business was kind of slow that day, so they gave me a lot of side dishes. I couldn’t finish all the side dishes, and asked if I could box them up. And since there was only a little bit left, the lady gave me enough side dishes to fill up the bento box, as well as another scoop of rice. For free. So I got a free lunch, with an expensive dinner. I’m going to try that here, the next time I eat in a Korean restaurant, asking for more side dishes and rice, then boxing it up later. And then, I was so lucky, because they helped me call the place I was staying to try to figure out where exactly it was, and then a free shuttle from the hotel came and picked me up right at the restaurant. I couldn’t believe it.
Anyway, I know you only really want to see the pictures, so I’ll stop talking and show you:
More pictures coming!