During my spring semester in Seoul I am thankful to have had the opportunity to travel around the rest of South Korea. This experience has not been without its ups and downs, however. Starting from the first week of May, my group of friends were excited to kick off our series of weekend trips with an extended vacation to Jeju Island. We had planned the trip in advance to match up with one of our two three-day weekends of the semester, as did many other students. I was traveling with my parents in Japan the week leading up to the weekend, and was set to meet three others at Jeju international airport. The day of our flights started off rocky for me with the train I had booked to the airport in Japan being canceled. I barely made it onto my flight in time, but nevertheless I was excited. Meanwhile, my friends in Seoul were waiting for their flight, having been delayed an hour. This is where I should have clued in to what was going to happen, but I was clouded by excitement. My flight was brief and fairly smooth until we started landing. The captain announced that our landing would be delayed due to air traffic. I opened my window to see nothing but clouds, with one brief moment where I could see the island itself. We eventually landed in the most nauseating way possible, and we were greeted by intense rain and wind. As soon as I connected to Wi-fi, messages started pouring in from my friends about their flight having been canceled. Every single flight in and out of Jeju had been canceled, delayed, or redirected until two days later. This meant I was stuck in Jeju alone for a day and a half, unable to do anything touristy due to the weather.
Jeju may be known for its windy weather, but this was a whole new level of wind. I was nearly knocked off my feet several times when I ventured outside. My friends were finally able to join me a day and a half later, on the one beautiful weather day we got. Our three day trip had unfortunately turned into a day and a half trip, but we were determined to make the most of it. I visited a culture museum and perused the massive market in the city before my friends joined and we ventured over to the opposite side of the island to see the UNESCO Deapo Jusangjeolli Cliffs, which washed away most of the disappointment from the past couple days. The next day was supposed to be another stormy day, and we knew that transportation from attraction to attraction was already difficult enough in normal weather without a car, so we opted to book a taxi tour to round out our weekend. The weather kept us from exploring a few of the places in full for our own safety, but our taxi driver was doing his best to make our day worthwhile, and offered suggestions to replace some of the outdoor activities. We had some mishaps including multiple broken umbrellas and uncertain lunch plans, but we ultimately had a lot of fun seeing some of the most unique natural attractions that Jeju has to offer. Plus, one of my friends had made a friend that lives in Jeju, so we were able to experience some local highlights that we wouldn’t have known about without him. We have piles of windblown and waterlogged photos from the weekend, but our smiles are huge in all of them.