Surprise! I went back to Jeju 제주도! After plans fell through for my long weekend over the Korean Cheosuck holiday ( Harvest festival meets Day of the Dead ancestor worship), it didn’t cross my mind to travel anywhere else.
I had just learned a new skill which I am really not good at, and the chance to practice diving more excited me. My two days of diving turned into three as I met a fellow waygook (foreigner) who had majored in marine biology and loved diving more than I did. It was three days of pure bliss (maybe from all the endorphins). I would wake up prep for my first dive of the day, rest for an hour dive again, go to the Olle Market, grab food, shower, chill, and cafe hop the rest of the day.
Slowing down, savoring the freedom from work and responsibilities to others while exploring different street foods and places is the best part of traveling.
Three days spent diving and eating left me a little guilty for not seeing more, but my diving buddy pointed out we actually saw a lot. We explored 3 islands and their underwater habitats.
On day one, we explored Seopesom Island 섶섬. There we dove dive against a wall and another using a boy and line to guide us down. This was my second time diving here, and I thought I would be bored, but really, How could I be bored. The ocean is so alive, ever-changing, and so much to take in it feels overwhelming. I was a little better than my last dive at maintaining my buoyancy (though I still struggled with it) allowed me to take more of what was going on in the ocean around me. Having to retrain my brain not to panic and take things slowly has been challenging for me. This dive really showed me how much the challenge was worth it. I felt like I was finally able to think less under the water and just have fun.
On the second day, we dove off of Munseom Island 문섬. Despite the low visibility, the dives were spectacular. On the first dive, we just went straight down no line or wall as a guide and explored the coral gardens floating in a current full of life from snails to abalone to fish and squid. This deserted island is very much alive under the water. On the second dive of the day, we used a wall to guide us. Watching the fish dive down the wall between soft corals into the abyss of the ocean. I think this dive was my favorite in many ways. Not only did it feel good skill level-wise, but it was one of the first times I started to play with how I moved in the water, taking my time to twist turn sit up in the water to look at everything around me from different angles.
On the third day, we went to Beomseom Island 범섬, and it was the most technical and most challenging day of diving. The first dive of the day, we defended along a wall and entered two small caves that looked like nostrils hence the name 콧구멍. The second dive was wild. We began by descending in the middle of the ocean with no guide, then we maneuvered around beautiful coral gardens with a current pushing us along. I found this dive to be complicated. It challenged my swimming skills since I had to slow myself down in the current to see what was around me, but that was part of the fun. Especially when you see fish shoot past you in the current like your in Finding Nemo. Every aspect of this dive tested my new skills and my ability to slow down without being swept away from my group.
I think that’s why I like driving so much. It’s challenging for my mind and body while being peaceful and adventurous. Every dive teaches me something new and shows me something I’ve never seen before.
These three days of diving filled me with a sense of peace and accomplishment. To be honest, I was sad it was over on day three, especially since the diving season (wetsuit-wise) is coming to an end in Korea, but that sadness only inspires me to look at more places to dive and adventures to be had next season.
*All Photographs are courtasy of MJ of AllBlu diving. Please go see her if you are ever in Jeju*
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