Udo Island in the Rain

A few weeks ago, I learned the reason why most people don’t travel to Jeju Island during monsoon season.

I was really looking forward to seeing Udo, despite the bad weather. It takes about an hour and a half to get there from Seogwipo (by bus). Then you go to the ferry terminal, fill out a declaration form, pay eight bucks for a ticket, and you are good to go.

The ferry ride was the best part. I love the free feeling I get when I’m standing at the back of a ferry, watching the water churn away below deck.


Still, thanks to the bad weather, I didn’t see much of Udo itself. When I stepped on land, the rain really started coming down, to the point where I couldn’t see where I was going. I ended up taking shelter in a nearby pagoda, snapping a few shots with my phone, and then heading back.


Meh. Serves me right for trying to outwit the weather.

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The Trick Eye Museum

The Trick Eye Museum was both everything I expected and nothing like I expected.


Photo credit: Annie Leonard

I expected a large, kinda-bizarre space primed for Instagram shots. However, I didn’t anticipate the level of creativity and variation in the illusions.


Photo credit: Annie Leonard

We spent a good hour here and could’ve easily have stayed longer to take more pictures.


Photo credit: Annie Leonard

If you’re in Seoul and like weird things, it’s worth checking out.

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Hong Cafe

This cafe is Cheonan is known for having the best cold brew coffee around. It also sells amazing desserts.

The rooftop area isn’t extraordinary by any means, but it’s still a great place to hang out with friends while you go to town on a thick slab of chocolate cake.

Last time I went, I actually just got the cake because I recently got the sweet potato latte AND a dessert at once and…I wouldn’t recommend repeating that experiment. Too sweet! (Lesson learned…)

Although, the solution to that problem is to visit repeatedly and often. …I think I can live with that method.

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The Trick Eye Museum – Ice Zone

Before entering the Ice Zone, we were warned that it would be very cold.


The interactive photo exhibit outside of the Ice Zone

Spoiler alert: it WAS very cold. I spent a good chunk of time shivering as I sprawled on ice chairs, crouched in the igloo, and sat on the ice toilet.

We ended up being the only two people in there after a short while. Everyone else vacated the place in favor of the warmer lobby area. And a bunch of them missed out on the ice slide! (Much, much faster than it looks…)


Their loss.

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Seoul Forest

At Seoul Forest, many families were out lounging on blankets, enjoying the sunshine and flowers. I spent my time wandering around silently, looking at all of the plants.


It’s a large place, but, as I was short on time that day, I only caught a bit of what it has to offer. I have to find time to go back soon!

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Common Ground (Seoul)

Common Ground is peak urban aesthetic. The big, blue shipping containers stand out sharply against the neutral grays of the surrounding buildings. I kept expecting to see bike racks mounted everywhere, or a bunch of succulents nestled in a neat row…

One cafe, Dore Dore, does have rainbow cake as its signature item. It was impossible to resist buying a piece for myself.

As I tucked into my cake, two students were plugged into their laptops, studying Korean intently. This area’s near Konkuk university and the overall atmosphere reflects that proximity.

An elevated walkway — made of metal and glass — connects the two main clusters of containers to each other. The rooftop levels are mainly restaurants and cafes. Inside, the lower levels are packed full of modern clothing shops.

The shopping prices are not kind and, overall, the area is fairly small…but the photo opportunities are excellent. Especially if you like the color blue.

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The East Sea

It was cold. It was foggy. Wanting to climb the rocks, I quickly gave up on using my umbrella. The rain soaked into my jacket, leaving my skin damp.


I loved every second of it.

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Due to the nature of the bus tour, we didn’t have as much time here as I would have liked. …Although, I would’ve liked to have been there all day long, and that’s a good recipe for pneumonia.


I hadn’t visited a seashore on a day like this since my trip to Portland, Maine. Nothing beats fog and rain in my book.

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Gameunsaji (Gameunsa Temple Site)

Another stop on the Gyeongju city tour was Gameunsaji.



Gameunsa temple was built in the 7th century to honor King Munmu, the king who managed to unify the three ancient kingdoms of Korea (Silla, Goguryeo, and Baekje). The temple is gone now, but the pagodas are still there. They’re each three stories tall and, in a word, impressive.

There were many people on this tour, but this area did not feel crowded. And certainly not noisy. The wind shifted through the trees, and the occasional bird let out a cry. Those were the only noises you could hear at this place.

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Golgusa Temple

One day, my friends and I went on the Gyeongju city tour. We opted for the East Sea tour, which starts off at Golgusa Temple.


Golgusa Temple

Apparently, Golgulsa is the only temple cave in Korea. It sits snugly against Mt. Hamwol, with a smiling Buddha sculpture resting at the top.

The walk up to the temple isn’t suitable for people who hate heights. I, on the other hand, have always lacked a sense of self-preservation, and so I eagerly zig-zagged my way up to the temple. I only stopped to briefly take in the various alcoves–full of smaller buddhas–that were scattered along the path.

It was a rainy day when we were there, too, which added the extra thrill of slippery rock platforms to the mix. The safety rails and ropes were wonderful!


Once at the top, all I could do was stare.

As far as tours go, this one had an impressive first stop.

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There are days when I think that I’m completely settled into my life here in Korea and that nothing will thrill me anymore.

And then there are days when I see something as ordinary as bamboo and get all excited again because there is no bamboo where I come from. That’s so wild. 


What is it about bamboo that sparks the desire to explore? Whenever I see bamboo, I always have to go inside of it and look around.

I’m going to Kyoto, Japan in July just to see the bamboo forest there. I can’t wait to be thrilled by it!

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