The True Meaning of Ganse

written Monday, March 13th. part 4 of 6. 

And on Saturday, the Lord said: “Let there be rest, or whatever.”
But first things first! Sorry this is kind of long (again), but I forgot that four days had gone by.

Friday, March 10th 

At Tree Story hostel, Alena and I decided that we could tackle both routes 5 and 6 in one day, which would total about 24km, slightly longer than Route 4 from the day before. We wanted to get into the ~city~, Seogwipo, because we were both smelling pretty rank and we figured our best chance of a laundry machine would be there. And also because we had not yet learned the true meaning of what it means to ganse-ganse.

On Route 5, the Holy Guidebook informed us there would be a Chinese restaurant about halfway through the route, which put us around an early lunch time. When we reached the area we thought it’d be in, Alena and I headed off the trail in search of it. We went in the wrong direction (which was unfortunately the worst kind of wrong direction – up a hill we didn’t need to go up), but eventually found it.

It was closed. This is going to become a sad, sad theme.

Fortunately, there was a place right across the street that did kimbap and ramen. While waiting for our food, I ducked across the street to a supermarket with restrooms, because Friday was a BEAUTIFUL day and I had decided it was the Day To Wear Shorts.

(I thus learned a new Korean phrase: “Aren’t you cold?” I don’t actually know how to say this, but I’ve learned to recognize it because every grandmotherly/grandfatherly Korean people I passed on Friday decided to check in with me.)

After lunch, Alena and I headed back to find the trail. We followed the trail… which took us right back past both the restaurant we’d had lunch at and the closed one we didn’t. I vowed never again to leave the trail in search of food, a vow I would keep for a solid day.

The end of route 5, the beginning of 6, my new “Aren’t you cold?” look; bonus feature: water bottle #3 of my Olle adventure, the Temporary $1.50 Bottle.
The highlight of Route 6 included meeting up with Redjacket again (he was a recurring figure on Thursday, along Route 4) at the Most Beautiful Pool of Water, where Alena and I sat on a rock and kept telling each other, “We should probably get going. Gotta get to Seogwipo,” but then kept not moving.

Eventually, we made it into our hostel in Seogwipo, Gudeok Guesthouse. Which was real and existed and everything, because we’d found it on and reserved beds in advance.

end of day: 42, 393 steps
casualties: our feet, again. but especially on this day.

Saturday, March 11th: The Day of Rest 

For Saturday, Alena and I decided to stay a day in Seogwipo.

Alena woke me up at 9:45am, because I can sleep forever when given half a chance, to tell me I had about 15 minutes to get breakfast. Gudeok Guesthouse had a couple of hot plates and pans, toasters, and eggs and toast, so I got to make my eggs over-easy, exactly how I like them (but then I accidentally broke the yolks.)

After breakfast, we wandered around a crafts market in town and picked up a few things – Alena got a pair of shell earrings, and I scoured each store for a new water bottle. (Temporary $1.50 Bottle leaked out the lid and didn’t have a handle, which made it hard to carry.) It was a really relaxing stroll, which lead us into the Seogwipo Daily market, where we got a nice lunch of gluttonous rice cake, kimbap sushi stuff, kimchi pancake, and some other stuff all mixed together into a spicy sauce in a giant dish. We also got some steamed buns. Alena got a donut for dessert while I bought a pair of thin black slipper things to go along with my shower sandals. (The straps on my shower sandals had become somewhat loose, and the Thin Black Slipper Things helped keep them on my feet better.)

I also elected to buy a new water bottle from Starbucks, with a pale pink top that matched my shower sandals. This was absolutely planned, because I have priorities. (Jokes, it was the only bottle with a handle.) It cost the same as my green one from Cafe Bene (RIP), so I figured it would last me at least another 5 to 6 days. It also included a free Starbucks drink coupon, so, score!

Alena and I then lazily finished Route 6 to stamp our passbooks. 6 ended at a Jeju Olle trail cafe, and so we also spent some time adding embellishments and tails to our very own Ganse dolls:


We spent the rest of the day at a cafe, where we got some work done, and then we had dinner that consisted of chicken and veggies tossed in a thick spicy sauce in a pan over an open flame, and a lot of bossiness. We wanted rice with our dinner, but we were told (multiple times, because we were impatient children and kept asking) that we could only have our fried rice after we’d finished our chicken. 😦

But at least we had learned the true meaning of ganse: take it slow, be a bit lazy. Or a lot lazy.

Sunday, March 12th

Sunday dawned bright and hot, and within the first 5 minutes Alena and I ended up back at the Jeju Olle trail cafe so she could take a bathroom break and I could change back into shorts.

On Day 10, we walked along Route 7, which may or may not be our favorite route despite also being the most populated route. For good reason, too – Route 7 included gorgeous vistas where we practiced ganseganse-ing by sunning ourselves on rocks. (This has resulted in the very awful farmer’s tan-sunburn that I’m currently rocking. Please don’t ask me to take off my glasses, the raccoon-glasses-tan is truly embarrassing.)


Eventually, we moseyed into a town that had some Chinese noodles in with a soybean sauce and amazing dumplings. It was a nice treat, since we’d been deprived of Chinese the other day.

That was when I noticed my brand new Starbucks water bottle #4 was missing.


“Wait here,” I told Alena. “I’m going to go back and find it.” Fuck if I was going to lose a fourth water bottle just because I put it down somewhere when we were resting. I refused to lose a water bottle unless it was in literal pieces. (Temporary bottle #3 didn’t count. I “donated” that to our Seogwipo hostel.)

So, in my shower sandals + Thin Black Slipper Things, I started jogging back the way we came. I stopped any time I saw someone with a backpack. “Olle?” I asked many a Korean walker in very one-sided conversations. “Water bottle? Pink? Have you seen it? Olle trail? Olle-gil?”

Their answers were varied: “Olle!” one woman said, trying to helpfully point me in the direction of the Olle trail (which we were both on). Another man offered me his water when I mimed looking for a water bottle. “No, thanks,” I said, “I’m looking for mine.”

Other people were slightly less helpful: calls of “OooOoOOooo” followed me as I jogged off, my sandals slapping against the pavement/rocks/dirt/whatever.

My most successful conversation came with a German man with very good English:
“Are you following the Olle trail?”
“Yes, I think I am!”
“Have you seen a pink water bottle, by any chance?”

And on I jogged, red-faced and sweating buckets. Eventually, about 2ish km back on the trail, I found my water bottle where I had left it. Abandoned and forgotten, because I’m an idiot. I sent a triumphant selfie to Alena, a photo I truly hope will never see the light of day again.

My waterbottle recovered, and with an extra 5k-ish jog under my belt, Alena and I carried on and finished Route 7. Here’s our End of route 7, beginning of Route 8 photo–with my water bottle triumphantly included.


Oh boy, but did we wish the day ended there.

According to the Almighty Guidebook, there were two hostels in the area. We found the first one and wandered around the grounds in search of reception. Instead, the whole place seemed to be populated by a single old Korean man who came out of a building a few minutes later. He lead us around to the back of it and took us up this staircase to an old but okay-looking hotel room with a kitchenette. Since we preferred hostels, and also didn’t want to get axe-murdered in the middle of nowhere with no one around us, Alena and I went off in search of the hostel with dormitory-style beds (these kinds of hostels also tend to include breakfast, which the remote axe-murdery hotel did not offer.)

Our walk took us to this cafe-looking place, where we stood for a long time looking for the name of the hostel somewhere on the building. We stood there long enough that a guy sitting inside came out, and asked with perfect English, “Are you looking for a guest house?”

“Yes!” we said.

“Oh, this isn’t it. It used to be it, but now we’re an IT company.”

Nooooooo,” we groaned, in undignified unison. The IT guy helped us scout out other options, which were both duds, and also pointed us in the direction of a market where we could at least buy some dinner. Rice and packets of a pre-made curry dish.

Returning to the remote hotel, Alena and I found the old man was not alone: there was also an old woman. After paying for our room, we received complimentary oranges (these did not taste like carrots), which made us feel a lot better about our chances of being axe-murdered.

The rest of the night was spent comfortably, except for the part where the curry packet turned out to be just curry powder instead of a pre-made curry meal. While I showered away all the dried sweat from my impromptu jog earlier that day, Alena managed to cobble together a curry rice thing and we ate Korean-style, at a low table and sitting on the floor.

end of day: 43, 465 steps
casualties: my pride. more or less all of it.

Monday, March 13th 

That’s today! That’s right now!

Today we walked Route 8, where we discovered Jeju has a truly absurd number of eerily empty parks. I briefly hula-hooped on the top of an oreum. We frolicked in fields of yellow flowers:

passed by a town with a series of extremely random museums (chocolate museum? teddy bear museum? Ripley’s believe it or not museum?)

and I finally found an actual beer (locally brewed, Magpie pale ale and much needed and appreciated.)

For dinner, we finally indulged in Jeju Island’s famous black pork, which comes from a pig that is actually black. In olden days (Wikipedia says “until quite recently”), they were kept to “dispose of” human waste, so that was a fun tidbit of information to learn moments before tucking into our meal. But it was served Korean bbq style, and we had no regrets.

end of day: 34, 658 steps
casualties: my abs, because I’m apparently so out of shape yesterday’s unplanned jog made them hurt.

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A 60-year-old cat lady disguised as a 25-year-old digital nomad.

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