Hell to Heaven: Pudong to Jejudo

Worst night ever as a hobo. From my mosquito-infested crate, I upgraded to taking refuge in T2’s best kept secret, 24-hour Burger King. I had a hot Lipton ice tea, theft-proofed my bag, and lay down on the bench. Life was better…until a crazy lady decided to sit next to me at 3am. She kept cackling into her fries, glancing at me, and randomly cackling again. Creeeepy.

She finally left, and I took a glorious one hour nap, only to wake up to a mosquito invasion on my legs.

After a lovely wake up call from K that once more depleted my minutes, I made it to check-in on time. I hopped onto the plane, and anticipated what would come next.

Fate is an amazing thing. The girl sitting next me was a Chinese ethnic minority from the Puyi Tribe! She also had the exact Chinese name as me…until she was forced to changed it last year since the fortune tellers on HK’s Temple Street recommended her mom to do so. She was also traveling to JeJudo by herself, with a vague plan of action in mind. Needless to say, we hit it off. She captivated me with her tales of driving to Tibet and camping out against police warnings, chilling in Yun Nan, and growing in one of the most purest and uncommercialized areas of Shanghai. I made her laugh with stories of my klutzy escapades around Asia.

Then, we landed in Jejudo. So charming, idyllic and relaxing. Yuandi and I decided to create some synergies by integrating our battle plans and research. First on the list: the iconic Yongdu-am. Beautiful, despite a near-face plant on the volcanic rocks.

We walked along the border of the island, gazing out at the infinite ocean. We were complete strangers less than 3 hours before, but travel can really do something to one and one’s comfort zone. We opened up about our lives, describing the main characters and big things that inspire us to keep going.

We feasted on some chicken clay pot soup with ginseng, since I was starting to feel the effects from my hobo existence. By the time we strolled through the Hallasan National Park, I was sniffling miserably under the brilliant sun.

Mysterious Road was high on both of our see lists, so off we were to Dokkaebi Road. I still don’t get it. Optical illusion much? It’s lies on a hill at the foot of a mountain, and connects two major highways on Jejudo Island. Objects and liquid appear to roll and flow up the hill instead of down. Our hired driver shut off his engine, and we started to glide up the hill. Mind blown.

Later in the afternoon, I decided to take a kimchi class. I meshed and made a mess of the sauce, but I finally produced my own plate of kimchi, ready in 3-5 days to go to some lucky kid in the orphanage.

Go big or go home, so Yuendi and I decided to max out our Koreanness by posing in various traditional Korean hanbok. I especially liked the big hair braid wig.

For the rest of the afternoon, I roamed through Jeju Cultural Street and it’s surrounding region. No words. Just relaxation, enjoyment, and appreciation of a vibrant yet courteous culture.

I will meet up with Yuandi soon for some more exploration, pigging out and bar hopping.

Day 1 on heaven = Success!



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