A quick bus ride south to the port of Busan, Korea's second largest city but nothing that interests me. The flight south from Busan to Jeju Island is a bit eerie. The plane is an Air Korea Airbus 330-300. There are less than 50 of us aboard.
The MERS situation continues to impact tourism here. This is actually working out well for me. Jeju Island is a World Heritage Site and was voted one of the Seven Wonders of Nature just a few years ago. This tends to attract tourists. Jeju is also a magnet for honeymooners. I knew this when I scheduled the visit but I'm loath to pass up a widely heralded location. But tourism is down; transportation is no problem; I have a nice room at a local guesthouse; and can explore at my leisure.
Jeju is famous for dormant volcanic cones, lava tubes, and mountain scenery. I gotta say - the Big island of Hawaii has it all over Jeju. The Big Island has an active volcano, lava tubes, the tallest and the most massive mountain on earth plus fewer honeymooners. Just less votes.
Jeju does have a remarkable traditional market. I've never seen as many varieties of fish and shellfish as are on display. And, like the rest of Korea, the market is squeaky clean. Jeju also has an administrative complex that dates back to the 15th century and a shrine celebrating the founding of Jeju, both of which are deserted due to rain and MERS.
As I tour the island, which is much less English friendly that either Seoul or Gyeong-ju,
People are quick to assist when they see I'm confused. Several spend time chatting and confirm my positive view of the Korean people. A bevy of young women at the guesthouse invite me to share their sushi just purchased from the market. Delicious. Everyone I talk with seems curious that I am traveling alone. Only one asks me how old I am.
The flight back to Seoul is on a Boeing 747-400. Again, there couldn't be more than a hundred people aboard. As we begin our descent into Gimpo, Seoul's second airport, we cross more than a dozen golf courses.
I'm returning to Seoul in the hopes that the tour that I booked to North Korea has resumed and I can reschedule. No such luck. In spite of claiming to have cures for MERS, SIDS, EBOLA, and a variety of other diseases, Kim Jong Un has shut down the border till things clear up. Instead I have an open day and fill it with visits to the National Museum and the War Memorial Museum. The National Museum has a number of excellent pieces. The War Memorial is extensive and exhaustive. It would take days to do it justice. But I find I'm not in the mood for arms and armaments.
Back to the hanok just in time to miss the rain. A nap then I walk next door to Essomio and a nice espresso and some scones. Good to be finishing these journal entries while the experiences are still close.
Did I just say espresso and scones?
I fly on tomorrow. heading North and a ways back in time I expect.