For Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) this year I went with a large group (100+) to Jeju Island. Getting to Mokpo for our Wednesday morning 8am departure was quite a trek from my house. I left Gyeongsan on Tuesday night on the KTX for Busan. I arrived in Busan and took the subway over to the group meeting point. The bus picking us up was coming from Ulsan, and it was a little late because of the holiday traffic. I thought we would be on one of the big charter buses, but it ended up being a tiny 20 seat bus. Everyone was really energetic at the time we left Busan (around 11pm). Since I was traveling alone I was excited to get to know the new people that I would be on the trip with. From Busan we drove all night making various stops to pick people up on the way. There was barely enough room on the bus for all of us and our luggage, so it was not a pleasant or comfortable ride at all. We drove all night long and arrived at the Mokpo ferry terminal around 5am. Luckily, I was able to sleep most of the way. The few times I did wake up, I didn’t keep my eyes open for long because our bus driver kept swerving off the road, and I think he went to sleep a few times. I just decided to block it out instead of worrying. He was either driving really slow, or insanely fast. We are lucky we made it to Mokpo safely!
Once we got to the ferry terminal, everyone went inside to try and sleep for a few more hours until the boat left. At around 6am the terminal opened so it got really loud and chaotic. I was glad all the arrangements had been taken care of for us, so I just had to sit and wait until it was time to board.
The actual ferry was an “interesting”experience. If you buy an economy class ticket, you get assigned to a huge room with a lot of other people. You have to take off your shoes before you can go inside, and there is only floor seating. There were people EVERYWHERE. The boat is quite large and fits a massive amount of people. There are restaurants, karaoke rooms, an arcade, and a stage for the on board “entertainment”. In our case, it was a Filipino band singing Korean songs. There are also a lot of outdoor decks that you can hang out on. It was fun exploring everything at first, but after a couple of hours I started to feel really trapped. There are children running around everywhere and it’s just complete madness. If you’ve ever been in the “bar car” on the Mugunghwa train on a busy weekend…Imagine that x100. And the worst part is that the ferry takes about 5 hours to get to/from Mokpo. If I were to ever travel to Jeju again, I would definitely go by plane!
The upside was I got to meet a lot of really nice new people. While I was out on the top deck a girl approached me and asked me if I was on the ‘WinK’ trip to Jeju. We immediately hit it off because she is also from Texas and her name is “Janessa”. From that moment on we just kept referring to each other as “twin”. There was also some really nice scenery on the way to Jeju. On the journey back to Mokpo we got to see a gorgeous sunset!