Life as a Corona Virus Nomad
With both the US listing China 🐼 on threat level ‘don’t go‘ and our employer recommending ‘stay away until further notice‘ . . . the message seemed pretty clear even for those of us who sometimes miss the signs. 🧐
So once our Dongdaemun hotel (review coming!) reservation was expiring, we turned our eagle eyes to something much. . . much . . . much cheaper. But with a private bathroom and bedroom, there’s something about the dorm – hostels that gives us both the wiggies about security. 🙄😐 Stayed in a $12 co-ed dorm with a co-ed bathroom once — 5 showers with no barriers and boys / girls in & out was a bit much 😅
After looking through dozens of -gu’s (districts) and on all the different -ros (streets), we decided to do a nation-wide search for hotels, sorted by price 😂 (Living wild!)
The cheapest private room in the entire country of South Korea was a pension on the island of Jeju! 😮 Description said orange tree farm and view of the ocean – we were hooked. 😍 Checked flights – $25 one way. Once in a lifetime bucket list opportunity for less than the cheapest hotel on the mainland? – Let’s do this!
Of course, then there was a fiasco over how to book the place — the website said ‘bank transfer’. . . which means what precisely? Paypal? Western Union? Alipay? Yeah. . . we weren’t sure either. 🤔
So we looked EVERYWHERE for a phone number. None to be found. Website? None to be found. . . . finally sent the Jeju Tourism Bureau a chat asking if they could help.
They answered immediately, found a website (hiding under my nose probably) and even called the owner for us! We ended up having a 3-way call to book the hotel, which was a new experience 😂 Got it 50% off too, and I think he upgraded our room! SWEET!
AND it is JEJU! Whoop!
We try to make the best of all situations (count it all joy!) but landing on an island paradise is not exactly hardship duty! (Except the price of food. 😓 Eggs $5-6, chicken, pork, or beef are not even in the ballpark! UGH.) Other than that . . . awesome!
Small snag. . . we were wondering why the hotels and flights were so cheap. Come to find out, Jeju has suspended it’s visa-free entry. Gave us a little heart attack (we’d already booked the flights) — but found out US isn’t on the list! Whew! 🧭
No direct limousine bus from our hotel to the airport in Seoul, so we had to drag our bags through the metro. Got 5 stops and remembered we’d left our USB in the TV. Watching dramas, duh!!
Ang stayed with the bags, while Liv ran back to the hotel. Made it in time for the staff to go on lunch break 🤣 Found out we’d also forgotten our electric outlet cord — learned from living in Korea that outlets in a hotel room are hard to come by so we now carry our own 😅. So, glad we went back!
Finally made it to Gimpo Airport, new airport for the bucket list!
Side note: I (Liv) have been in South Korea dozens of times and every time I come, my favorite KPOP star (Jaejoong) leaves. 😅 Seriously, went to Seoul on Monday, he left Sunday. Went to Seoul Friday, he left Thursday. And he’s always going through Gimpo – while I’m always in transit at Incheon! 😭 It’s so not fair! This time, we had our eagle eye peeled . . . but saw no stars. Tragedy!
It’s EMPTY. Seriously, we didn’t wait in line at all . . . there was no one at the check-in counter. We heard the previous cases of the virus had made an appearance at Gimpo, so we wore our masks. . . always makes us feel claustrophobic, but in the name of safety!
Bags made it through at 19.5KG on a 20KG per person limit. 🥳 Another packing success! Got some chicken too. . . a good thing since we didn’t eat again for the next 24 hours 😂
We landed about 6:00 pm and by the time we figured out the bus and crossed the island it was dark. A little creepy!
We also had a small mix-up with the money for the bus. In Korea, you get a discount if you use the transit card but you have to keep stocking it up with funds. At the airport, Liv went to put money on the cards – 15,000KRW each. Handed the girl 2 cards + 30K. She stared. Tried to hand sign. Motions. Even gave her 10K on one and 10K on the other. Nope. She for some very strange reason put 6,000KRW (super random number?) on them 🤔
Since the bus was 6,500KRW we were then in a bit of a pickle 😂
Anyway, got the bus and road the 1 hour to Seogwipo on the southernmost part of the Island. Bus drivers here do NOT stop unless you push the buzzer in a timely fashion!
We figured out at some point that we were not where we needed to be and got off . . . in the dark, the Lord only knows where. There was nothing in sight. Ang thought she saw a 7/11 on the other side of the road up a ways so we started dragging our bags that way. . . it was closed.
By the grace of God a taxi (the only one we saw the whole night) stopped, after bad words but before tears, to let some young guys out.
He agreed to take us, and let us out at a high school. We discovered it was the stop we wanted in the first place and the pension was within walking distance. YAY! So off to the pension!
The landlord was waiting for us—up the 3 floors (he carried one bag all the way and came back for the other about half way up). Bless him! He speaks no English but we did clarify that we were at the end of a great walking trail and Good Night.
To bed, to bed . . . time to rest our heads! Excited to see what views await in the morning!