Friday, September 9, 2016

Another Day, Another Ferry Ride, Another Adventure.

In our second class cabin on the Red Pearl.

Our grand plan today was to take the 3pm Red Pearl Ferry.   That would leave us at least half a day to explore more of Jeju but as it turned out, that was not to be.  We got foiled, yet again, by the ferry ticketing process.  Grrrrr......

We had breakfast at the Hotel Leo and then checked out right afterwards.  We loaded up the car and headed out.  Although George has a pretty good sense of direction, I still fired up Ms. Kimchi to get us back to the ferry terminal.  We wanted to at least see where it was located so we could easily make our way back afterwards.

George pulled off the main road at around the area that he thought we had arrived from last night.  Sure enough, there was a terminal building there.  We parked the car and went inside to check it out.

Our trusty Hyundai.  This thing gets pretty good gas mileage.

It was a very modern terminal building.  Only problem was that there was not a soul inside. So, following what we had to do in Wando to get our tickets, I started to look around for a Hanil Express office.  I figured we needed to at least get a reservation.  Well, I looked up and down and all around and there was no office to be found.  Maybe it was behind a locked door, I don't know.  The one that was reassuring was that the monitor did display the correct departure information for Wando.  I was convinced we were in the right spot as far as buying the ferry tickets was concerned.  The monitor also displayed the port number that the boat would be docked at. 


We decided to go in search of the dock for the Red Pearl.  Well, that proved to be a challenge unto itself.   We headed out to the main road and as we drove along, we noticed the ports were numbered sequentially.  All we had to do was find Port 10 - I think it was 10; today has been a bit of blur.  In any case, we found ports 8, 9 and 11 but not 10.  We drove down where we thought 10 would be.  There were two boats docked - one was a Coast Guard boat and the other a cruise ship.  In fact, we saw passengers descending from the cruise ship.  We followed into the terminal to see where they were heading and turned out they were disembarking for the day.  Then, I noticed a non-Korean man sitting inside the terminal and approached him.  He spoke English but unfortunately, he could not point me in the right direction as far as the port number was concerned.

George's instinct was telling him that the dock was on the other side of this building i.e., one port over and so we  headed there.  We passed through the security and parked the car.  I have to say that despite the general belief that men don't like to ask for directions, George is not one of those.  He's gotten accustomed to using Google Translate, though I still think he needs to simplify the phrases he enters in as they don't always translate to something that makes sense to the other person.  In any case, we have found that Koreans are extremely willing to help a bumbling tourist in need.  We had several people try to help us and it took a bit of piecing together but we figured we were in the right place to get the car ticket but the ticket place would only open up for business at 12:30 and it was barely noon.  Of course, we figured this out after I went up and down the dock area in search of the place. 


By now, we were feeling flustered and the hot weather did not help matters any.  Then a very kind man, who was actually employed by another ferry company, invited us to sit in the cool space of their office while we waited for the Hanil Express office to open up.  How thoughtful.  It definitely beat sitting in the car.

Making like he's upset but I can tell you he appreciated the air con!

When 12:30 rolled around, we headed out and lo and behold, we saw the Red Pearl docked.  Hallelujah!  We are indeed at the correct port.


You would think that the same company, albeit operating in different ports, would have the same ticketing process but you'd be......wrong.   From Wando to Jeju, George could buy both his ticket and the one for the ferry from the same place.  From Jeju back to Wando, we could only get the car ticket.  Ok.  What next?  Well, we were told to wait along with the other passengers until it was time for the cars to load up.


George was motioned by one of the dock workers to get in the car.  He was then directed to line up the car, ready to board.  He was positioned front row center.


Waiting for further instructions :-)

George is in the white car on the left; the Hanil Express car ticketing office is the small gray building on the right.

Checking the car manifest.  We passed.

Waiting.  In no time, I would say there were at least a couple dozen vehicles ready to board.

George led the pack of cars aboard the ferry.  He later told me that he was directed to park in a spot on the upper deck.  Apparently, he had to back into the space.  George is a lame driver.  In his everyday car, he has a rear view camera that guides him.  According to George, he's so used to having the camera that he can't drive in reverse without it so it took him a few turns to get the car positioned.  I sighed and shook my head when he told me this.  


I watched George disappear with the car into the bowels of the ferry and then I waited for him to re-emerge.  We would have to wait a bit longer before we could board the shuttle van that would take us to the ferry terminal to buy our tickets.

As people started to board the van, we followed and took two seats. It was literally a 2 minute ride to building as all the shuttle had to do was exit the main gate and re-enter from an adjacent gate.  Like lemmings, we followed the rest of the people to the ticket counter.


George got us our tickets and at least the departure time is correct.  We just hope we're actually going to Wando.  Not that getting on the wrong ferry has happened to us before :-)  And oh yeah.....so  much for having a few extra hours to explore Jeju :-(


No complaints really.  It was not time to relax a bit and have some refreshment.  It was 2p and we had about a half hour's wait as they would board at 2:30p.


George got his caffeine fix......


.....and I found something new to get addicted to - black soy milk. So tasty.  Why have I never had this before?  When I get home, I will have to source the beans online and make some.


We waited near the departure gate so we could keep an eye on when the boarding process would begin.  They don't believe in making announcements over a PA system.



Promptly at 2:30, the departure gate opened and we headed out of the terminal building and made our way towards the Red Pearl.



A quick stop for a selfie.  George forgets I'm shorter than him :-(


On board the boat, we made our way to the 2nd class cabins.

The lobby and front desk.


Our cabin is the one below the red dot.

The hallway leading past the 2nd class cabins.

All the shoes are deposited at the entrance to the room.  George's sneakers are somewhere in there.

We just picked a cabin room as they're all pretty much the same.  George got us a spot by the window and then proceeded to lay blankets and got each of us a foam block to lay our heads down on.



I am happy to finally be on the right ferry, heading to the correct destination!! 

Settling in for the 4 hour ride back to Wando!

We still had some time before departure so I headed back outside to check out the view.

The gray building is where we got our car ticket.  Entrance to the terminal building is on the other side of the metal fence. 
Hence the shuttle ride over.

Looking across the waters of the Yellow Sea to Jeju City.

Coast Guard boat.

Hmm....couldn't figure out what this sign was trying to tell me.

Looking down at the car ramp.  Workers are about to pull it up.


Securing the car ramp.

Okay, vehicles and passengers are all on board and we're now just waiting to push off.

The terminal is the blue glass building on the left.

One last view of the car ticketing place; terminal is to the right.

Dock workers at the ready to untie the ferry from the dock.

The passenger ramp moves away.....


....and we push off.






Once we were asea, I went back to the cabin to check on George.   He was doing fine.  Just laying down and surfing the web on his iPhone.


I decided to head back to the food vending area next to the lobby.  The small little shop had just a few items for sale including the ubiquitous ramen noodles in a paper bowl.  I was tempted to get one until I saw the ice cream cones.  My favorite is anything that resembles a Nutty Buddy.  For   1,500 won, I got myself a cone.  When I got back to the cabin, George took one look at me enjoying my cone and declared he wanted one to.  So, I went back and got him a cone.  As he was eating it, he told me he was mildly lactose intolerant.  What??  You tell me this now?  Sheesh.  Thankfully,  there are toilets nearby.


It was barely an hour and a half after we left the port at Jeju when we approached Chuja which is administered by Jeju Island.  Chuja is actually comprised of four inhabited islands and 38 uninhabited islands; I don't know which one we were arriving at.


I stayed on the deck to watch the ferry approach the dock which required one of the ferry deck hands to use a pneumatic rope launcher.  The dock workers were ready to pull the ferry into place.


Line retracted.


The car ramp was lowered and a small forklift boarded and carried off a shipping container.



The forklift driver then went over to another container and took it aboard the ferry.  He was a busy man today.



Meantime, the container that had been deposited was opened and people were emptying it out. I presume these were the owners of the goods that had been transported on the Red Pearl.

It didn't long before the container was surround by a mass of people and trucks.


Soon, it was time to push off again and the deck hands, who had had a small break, went back into action lifting up the car ramp.


Bye, bye Chuja!






The rest of the ride felt like an eternity.  I think for the first time on this trip, I was a bit bored.  But when we saw the people around us rustling up and putting on their shoes, we followed suit.  We must be nearing Wando.


It was dusk when I saw the lights of Wando in the far distance.



By the time we neared the dock, it was dark.


We were docking in the same exact spot that the Hanil Express Carferry 1 had been docked at when we left Wando two days ago.


Pretty much all the passengers were standing on the dock, watching the ferry pull in.


We joined the other vehicle owners down to the upper parking deck.  George knew exactly where he had parked.


I just had to walk carefully to avoid tripping over the ties.




Since George was the first to board the ferry back in Jeju, I figured we would be one of the last to get off but we were in no rush.  We were safely back in Wando.


We decided to spend the night back at the Piano Motel.  Truly nothing fancy but the room is clean and at 40,000 won ($35) for the night, a bargain!

We had done this route so many times before that George didn't even need Ms. Kimchi to guide him back to the motel. We had the check-in routine down as well.  While George parked the car in the lot, I secured the room.  At first, the man wanted to charge me 50,000 won but I pointed to the sign with the price.  He then cheekily said...."discount for you".  Yeah, you mean you weren't going to cheat me.  In return for my won, I got the complimentary toiletry pack.


View of the street from our hotel room. 

Dinner....well, we felt lazy so it was back to Chicken Phong for dinner.




Pickled daikon

Tonight, I ordered the fried wings plain.  Much, much better than the sauce smothered version we had a few days ago.


For dessert, the owners treated us to a few home made cookies.  That was very nice gesture.

On the way to the restaurant, we had noticed a set of steps that wound up and down both sides of a very unusual looking building.  George loves to see the city from above so we decided to take the steps and check out the view.


Wando is not a pretty city - even in the dark of night.  Sorry. 

Wando Tower,  perched high on the hill,  is roughly where the dock is located.

You can't miss the Piano Motel, even in the dark of night :-)

We walked for a bit along the dock area.  Men were hard at work prepping their boats to go out.


I loved how a lot of the boats used leafless tree saplings (?) as flag poles :-)



We walked by the row of seafood restaurants.  I wouldn't have minded having some seafood for dinner but George is not a patient eater.  Having to use his fingers to pry the meat out of clams or mussels is not something he would relish doing in order to get full.  He would rather have a good steak!



We ended our night on a sweet note. Our walk back to the Piano Motel took us past a coffee shop. Outside, the menu displayed choices for bingsu.  I had only had a few small chicken wings.  Nothing much.  Plenty of space for bingsu.  So, I took the photo below and showed the guy behind the counter the one I wanted.


We got a table inside.  There were a few other patrons around.  I have to say, Wando may not be the most attractive looking city but hidden among all the traditional shops are some very modern places.  This place could easily blend in with any coffee shop in the US.


I got the black sesame bingsu - the same thing that I had back in Seoul except the ice here was finely crushed and not like powdered snow.  It was still delicious though. I love the mochi bites on top.  I have to make those when I get home.  It was a big dessert and George only had a few bites.  I couldn't finish it all but I was close.  I will definitely miss real Korean bingsu when I get home, especially the one that I enjoyed at Sulbing in Seoul.


Tomorrow, we're heading back to Seoul and the day after I leave for Xi'an, China for the next leg of my trip while George heads home.  Hopefully, it will be an uneventful ride back to the big city.

Goodnight from Wando!