Jeju, you are a gem

by Grace Ko in ,

The first and last time I was in Jeju was 16 years ago, my freshman year of high school. That year was a tumultuous one, full of adolescent angst and a whole gamut of emotions. But I do fondly remember my trip to Jeju - my brother and I tagged along with my aunt, uncle and cousin on a trip with their friends. 

Last weekend, Y and I went to Jeju for 3 nights, 4 days. A typhoon had passed through only a few days before our arrival and the lingering effects of it were felt - the first two days were filled with intermittent downpours. We spent our first full day escaping the rain in sundry indoor spaces: O'Sulloc Tea Museum, Bangju Church, Bonte Museum. Married to an architect, I have grown to appreciate buildings and architecture. The husband calls architecture "the container of life" and I was grateful it for these containers of life and places of refuge from the temperamental weather. 

But like they say, after the rain comes the sun and scintillating it was. It was all the more glorious. We spent our days breathing in the fresh autumn air, letting our eyes soak in the blue skies and took the time to say things like, "How beautiful!" "This is so amazing!" Making the most of the weather, we spent one day exploring winding paths through lush forests and rolling hills, the following day making our way along the coast's beaches. Our bellies were filled with a motley of Jeju's finest: abalone, pork belly, seafood stew just to name a few. 

I went to Jeju just an excitement of getting away from the hubbub of Seoul life and feasting on good eats and sights. But I returned refreshed, rejuvenated and recalibrated, with a greater sense of hope and expectation. To be quite honest, grieving has been a real part of this pregnancy. I often look through Instagram or Facebook and see the places people are traveling to and I'm filled with the occasional pang of wanderlust, an ounce of envy and a sense of loss: "There's another place we won't get to go to," "That's another thing I won't be able to do once baby comes..." Now, don't get me wrong. I am extremely excited for baby's impending arrival but I'm also very aware his impending arrival brings very real impending life changes. 

A part of me went to Jeju thinking, "Okay, here's one last hurrah." But God must've known my heart. At every corner, every stop, every cafe, there were families traveling with young children. It made me realize that my life won't stop with baby's arrival. Yes, there will be changes. Yes, there will be adjustments. But there will also be a new sense of joy. And I can still travel, WITH baby! 

Baby, I can't wait to take you to Jeju and to show you the beauty of this country you will be in born in. Korea is beautiful, you'll see.