One thing I noticed fairly early on in my trip is that the Chinese use the word “new” to talk about anything from the Qing dynasty onward. The Qing dynasty started in 1636, just moments after the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. The thousands of years of dynasties before that are the real history to the Chinese. They’ll talk about sections of the Great Wall or ancient palaces and gardens that are “new” because the Qing restored them…300 years ago. Or even the Mings, who ruled from 1368-1636! This different frame of reference fascinates me. I realize that the land of the United States was not vacant prior to 1620, but the history of me as an American, the history I can identify with, is only as old as what is “new” to the Chinese.
Last weekend, Trotsky and I took our first ever solo camping trip. In almost nine years, it’s never been just the two of us. Between trips with partners, casual lovers, friends who live locally, and friends who are far away, finding time to go places on your own is difficult. But last weekend, it happened. Not at first. At first there were several different plans. Meeting some people Saturday, meeting other people Sunday, having a camping companion…but eventually all the plans crumbled and it was just me and the beast. And how wonderful it was! Of course I love travelling with other people, sharing the moments of awe and excitement, experiencing the thrill of getting intimate in an exotic or wild location, and building common memories and bonds, but travelling alone is special in its own way.
While You Are There: Hike in the crater and get drenched in sweat. That’s what I remember about it – the humidity inside. It’s its own microclimate. It’s a steamy tropical jungle. Clearly the volcano inside is not active, but it’s so hot that you get the sensation it might erupt at any moment. Or maybe I was just there on a really hot day. So, hike in the crater and then explore the rest of Jeju Island. Check out the bonsai and drive on Mysterious Road. See airplane hangers from World War II in the middle of the countryside. Walk around beautiful Jeju City and then head south to the beaches. But be forewarned, if you sleep on the beach you might get an early morning visit from the police (see picture above).
Why It’s On My List: Where else do you get to walk inside a volcano?
For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.