Saturday, August 4, 2012

Markets and Beaches

Thursday July 5th was fairly uneventful, more delicious food and wandering around Jeju City. Friday most of us students hung out at the FamilyMart until the early hours of the morning before hitting the night clubs in the early hours of the morning.  It was pretty much the same story as last Frinight lots of fun, lots of dancing and lots of drunk Koreans.

The Five Day Market

Saturday all of us foreign students and professors were invitedto go to the “Five Day Market” with our classmate Bogyeong Kim and her roommate Mini acting as tour guides. The Five Day Market is a traditional market that occurs every five days, starting the second of every month.  We left around noon; much later then we had normally started our weekend adventures. It was nice to be able to sleep in and get a good five hours of sleep before venturing around town. We took the bus to the market and it was a long bus ride. It went through downtown made a left and meandered passed the airport cutting through a part of the city that I had never seen before in the daylight. Jeju City is much larger than it appears at first glance, I knew that about 450,000 people lived in Jeju City but I honestly have no idea what that translates into in actual cityscape. Seeing how much Jeju City sprawls out just reinforced the fact that I really only got a taste of the city during the last two weeks and that there was so much more out there to explore, but so little time left.

After about forty-five minutes riding in the increasingly hot and crammed bus, Kim tells us that we are going to get off at the next stop. As the bus began to slow it became clear that the majority of our fellow passengers were also getting off at our stop. As I stepped off the bus I could not immediately see any sort of market but Kim directed us to follow the moving masses of Koreans down a side street.  After about 500 feet we were greeted with a large sign that crossed the entire street that read “Jeju City Traditional 5 Day Market.” Even though the sign was there I was still confused where the market actually was.  As we walked down the street I started to see more and more vendors scattered about on the sidewalk a wide array of items. I am pretty sure we passed the Korean sidewalk vendor equivalent of OSH. As we walked the sidewalk grew more and more crowded with droves of people hurriedly walking to the market.  Our fellow pedestrians were incredibly diverse in age and appearance. There were a large number of elderly women draped in sunhats and visors holding oversized bags speeding past us on the way to the market. There were also a number of families with small children running about in eager anticipation of the excitement of the market.

After about a quarter mile walk we finally reached the parking lot for the market. The market was covered by a permanent overhang providing shade and a feeling of being indoors. When I first stepped inside all of my senses were overloaded with stimuli. The smell of meat, fish, spices, fried donuts and fish all combined into an indescribable mash of a smell.  All of this while staring at the seemingly endless sea of stands selling everything from knives to live chickens and everything in between. As we walked hurried shoppers kept running bumping into me as I stared at the various stands filled with interesting items. This was a running problem for me in South Korea, I wanted to absorb as much as a could when I was walking around I would not really pay attention to where I was walking, like a child at an amusement park.

What I found fun for in the market was people watching.  The shoppers were mostly older and female; they hobbled about the market with their backs bent and their eyes intent. They had probably been shopping at this type of market for their entire lives; they knew what they wanted and where they wanted to get it from. They were just shopping, and they had to weave around us foreigners absentmindedly marveling at where they got their food. Some of the owners of the stands loudly promoted their stores repeating their daily deals to all those who passed. Others just sat back and prepared their food and watched the crowds of shoppers go by. It amazed me to think how different all of these people’s lives were from my own.  This was something so normal to them but completely foreign to me.

We did a couple of laps around the market our guides kept buying us random fried foods for all of us as we walked. My favorite was this fried pancake like dessert which was honey filled creating a sugary concoction of deliciousness. After about an hour of walking about the market the horrendous heat started to get to us and we decided to make our way out. Professor McCuan and Professor Jung Lee suggested that we go to the beach to lounge about for the rest of the afternoon.  Unfortunately Kim and Mini could not join us to the beach so they showed us to the bus stop that would take us to the beach, Professor Jung Lee was raised in Korea and speaks Korean so we were not worried about getting lost.

The welcome sign for the market. In English too!

Older women hustling to get to the market. I felt like I was always in their way.

The Pre-Market vendors. So you can pregame your shopping with shopping.

Here is another example of the randomness of the zoning in Jeju. This is a small farm operation next to houses and restaurants on the way to the market. It is like the city grew around the farm.

More Pre-Market vendors. 
The massive market parking lot 

Inside of the market.

Shirts on shirts. Although the quality was questionable. 

I regret that I did not buy this pair of "Starbucks" socks.

The produce section.

Kim buying oranges from the orange vendor.

Down the market.

Bowls of spicy 

More bowls of spicy

Fried things on sticks. Our cultures are not so different after all.

Mini hot dogs. 

These puppies were for sale. We were not sure if they were for food or for pets. Their living conditions would have given PETA a collective stroke.


The honey filled pancakes of the gods. 

This guy knows how to party.

This older women was maybe four and a half feet tall hauling her goods from the market. The older generation seemed to be in incredibly good shape. 


After a crowded bus ride along the coast we finally arrived at the beach. The sands were wonderfully white and the beach was crowded with people lapping up the sunlight…sort of. In Korea you don’t wear only bathing suites into the water, you wear shirts as well. So there were always fully clothed running out of the water their clothes heavy and dark completely saturated with water. It reminded me of some sort of 1980s music video where youthful people high on Reaganomics and synthesized sound who threw caution to the wind and go swimming with clothes on.  Honestly it looked pretty cool, and it allowed me to hide my blindingly pasty skin from the oh so destructive sun. We lapped around in the water and hung out under the umbrellas for a few hours relaxing and enjoying the rare sunshine. For dinner we took a taxi to yet another Korean BBQ restaurant indulging ourselves once again in the delicious pork that Jeju had to offer.  Professor Jung Lee even gave us a brief lesson on the Korean language, something we realized we should have done from the very beginning.  All and all it was a relaxing low energy day which was just what I needed. 

The beach

More of the beach. There is some small island we were facing. I don't know exactly  what it was.

Umbrellas on umbrellas.

You could rent all sorts of beach fun.

Stores along the beach front.

Our group getting ready to enjoy dinner, minus Professor McCuan who took this photo.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. You'll probably enjoy reading this in late December in Sweden.