After we left the KTX train, we explored the southern town of Mokpo a little. We thought we could walk to the ferry terminal (we were big walkers this summer), but it was way too wicked hot. We loaded our sweaty selves into a cab.
“International Ferry Terminal!” I said to the cabbie.
“Muo-la,” he said. (“I don’t understand.”)
Oh, crap. “Jeju?” I tried. “Jeju?”
“Ah!” he said. “Ferry! Ferry!”
We jumped in and off we went.
Our ferry wasn’t much to look at from the outside. But we happily climbed aboard and the nice lady looked at our tickets and pointed us to third class.
Once we got there, we found all the other passengers kicking off their shoes and stretching out on the floor.
On the floor?
Bit of culture shock, there. Puget Sound ferries are loaded with booths and tables and are very comfy. Spending a four-hour ferry ride on the floor didn’t sound very appealing.
We sat there for a few minutes, shoeless and pouting. Then we got up and explored the rest of the ship. We found that second and first class areas were set up the same way, and that there were even private cabins with no furniture, where you can stretch out on the floor in your own room.
On our Korean Palace tour, we learned that Koreans used to heat their homes under their floors. So sitting high on chairs and eating off tables was too chilly. To stay warm, you stayed close to the floor, and if you lived close to the floor, you took your shoes off and kept the floor clean. And that tradition led to our accommodations on this ferry. Interesting…
Off we went! As we sailed past lighthouses and dozens of islands, Steph and I kept looking until we found a lounge — with chairs — on the top floor, facing forward. We planted ourselves there for most of the ride.
It wasn’t long before other folks started looking around the ship, too.
We were discovered by a tour group of about a dozen Korean seniors (Jeju Island is a vacation spot for Koreans, too; not just foreigners). They knew how to travel. They brought food.
They opened their coolers and passed out peanuts and fish jerky (which looks, smells, and tastes exactly like you’d guess). And beer. Lots of beer. And soju.
These folks loved to talk. They were loud — and funny. Passionate conversations and debates in a foreign language can be hilarious. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s true.
And it wasn’t long before they spotted the only two foreigners on the whole ferry, sitting beside them. And what did they do?
They offered us their snacks!
I was a little hesitant about the fish jerky. But what is the politest thing to do? Refuse? So we (mostly I) accepted… and they kept offering. Peanuts, fish jerky, beer, soju, beer…
After a while, we ran out of islands to look at, and everything got a little quieter. Then a lovely sunset… and one of my favorite pictures from the whole summer in Korea.
At last, land appeared out of the haze ahead… and we docked at Jeju-si (Jeju City) on Jeju-do (the State of Jeju)! After a wacky cab ride — the cabbie got lost — we made it to our cute little hotel.
Stay tuned for the tour we took the next day. Steph and I rode two different species of animals.