Start of summer: Sophia’s first flight

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Memorable last night of the trip: Sunset at Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak on Jeju-do in South Korea, a UNESCO World Heritage site

Summertime in Seoul is sticky and rainy.

In this concrete jungle, monsoon season often sequesters me indoors with Sophia in order to avoid sweaty crowds, pesky mosquitoes and seemingly unceasing storms and humidity. Not how I am used to spending my summer days.

Summer always meant a time of freedom to me – both physically and mentally.

Growing up, summer officially started when the school year ended and I was on my way to a sunny beach vacation, whether it was a short road trip to nearby Lake Michigan, or a flight to the Hundred Islands in the Philippines.

When I was teaching, summer similarly started when I closed my grade book and walked out of the classroom with an empty bag in hand, heading back to familiar spots but on the other side of the lake in Chicago, or jet setting to tropical paradise in other parts of the world with Michal, like Thailand or Costa Rica.

So when my in-laws set their travel itinerary for Seoul in July, just after Sophia turned two months old, Michal and I thought it would be perfect timing to get away from the city life and make our first flight with our little one.


I thought “let’s start small with our tiny traveler.” Based on recommendations from our Korean friends, we chose Jeju Island because it is only a one-hour flight away from Seoul and it has the country’s best beaches as it is dubbed the “Hawaii of Korea.”


We rented a beautiful house through Airbnb, just a five-minute walk away from scenic Hyeopjae Beach, as well as rented a car for exploring the rest of the island. Both the house and the car made it a lot easier to accommodate our little one with all her belongings and needs.

Highlight of the trip: Aquarmarine water, almost cloudless sky and black volcanic rock on Hyeopjae Beach

My favorite season of summer finally felt real with the ocean breeze, blue sky, fresh air and clear water. (Thankfully, it only rained on the day we returned to Seoul.)

Combination of tranquil nature and spiritual peace: Temple on top of Sanbangsan Mountain


Gone are the days of carefree beach vacations with no responsibilities and obligations, as I now have Sophia my side. But I am grateful for the opportunity to relax in a place reminiscent of my favorite past beach getaways and to share that sweet taste of summer with Sophia.



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