Ulleungdo NET teacher trip wrap-up

After our bus tour we were dropped off in town to have two hours to do what we wanted. For some people this was a great time to hike a couple trails near the port which I heard was absolutely beautiful. Some people went shopping. I ran to the convenience stores to stock up on food. Why? Because for the last two days the staff had gone around talking to everyone to get our dinner order which was one of two options.

  1. Spicy chicken sandwich from Lotteria
  2. banana

At first the spicy factor of the sandwich was downplayed and so I signed up for one but then another staff member quickly said that no, it actually would be spicy. So I found myself looking at six and a half hours of travel with only a banana for dinner followed by more travel as I made my way (if we arrived without being to late) up to Nathalie’s apartment. There was no way I’d make it all the way home. Part of me and a large portion of our group thought that the banana for dinner was a joke and hoped that there would be another option for vegetarian/vegan or those of us who couldn’t handle spice.

The annoying thing was of course that the area we’d been dropped off in was the area for all groups and tours to be. It was our meeting spot as well as every. other. group. So every single convenience store was wiped out of easy portable meals. I bought snacks hoping that some bread I’d found that looked sweeter than I’d have liked would help. Then I visited a souvenir shop to buy myself some souvenirs that wasn’t traditional candy I planned to give everyone else and then started to look at the hiking path only to find myself out of time.

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Most people were able to leave their stuff on their buses, except our bus swapped out for a different bus so all souvenirs we bought at the traditional candy shop we had to lug around in the heat. But soon we returned to the resort, picked up our bags we’d left in the doorway that morning and headed to port to board the Seaflower once again and head home. The start of this time included taking motion sickness medication (they provided the liquid kind again for people who wanted it), and filling out forms and surveys about the trip.

Two and a half hours later we were back in Hupo, organizing ourselves based on return destination (back to Suwon for me, though I could’ve taken the bus to Chuncheon). The staff called our names and we were given an envelope with a card saying we were honorary residents of Dokdo island and a fan as well as our dinner which was either option one or two plus a soda.

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and we though they were joking

While I expected a single banana I actually ended up with a whole bunch all to myself. Which was funny since I’d seen those exact ones at the convenience store back on Ulleungdo. All the food, sandwiches included, had been purchased on Ulleungdo. The staff couldn’t pass them out on the boat, so they just sat and got cold until we reached land and parted ways.

We made one rest stop about halfway between Hupo and Suwon but our time there was short and the only things open only offered snacks, nothing substantial. We made it to Suwon with just enough time for me to catch the final trains I needed towards Gangnam and the real-ish bed Nathalie had waiting. (After three nights of sleeping on the floor, two of which in a bug infested resort made sleeping on a futon in a guest bedroom pure bliss)

Lessons learned?: If you can’t eat spicy food buy your own meal, even if that means awkwardly standing in line behind the staff ordering ridiculous amount of spicy chicken burgers at Lotteria to order something you can eat. Because as awesome as Korean rest stops are the restaurants are not open early or late and the convenience store only has snacks. And also to have a back up plan if you get back too late to make it home. (My friend in Suwon was prepared for me to come stay with her if it was too late) At least one of my friends had to book a hotel last minute which was very stressful, but thankfully the staff was still with us and able to help her out.

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