When traveling, you cannot help yourself but wonder how much in the world is still yet undiscovered. There are places I haven't been to in Korea and just by claiming mountains, there are full of things I have never seen before. And I'm talking in the perspective of the universe, in this tiny planet called Earth there still are full of places I have yet to visit.
There is a surprising piece of fact that everybody knows but doesn't think about. The Earth is made up of 70% of water and 30% of land. With a little more detail, this 70% of water means 140,000,000 square mi in area and 12,000ft in depth. And maybe we know about 10% of this water at best.
There are hardly any land that has not been touched by humans and our hands are stretching out to space, but I begin to think we may not even really know the planet we live in. This thought comes back into my mind when I was visiting the minuscule version of the vast sea, Hanwha Aqua Planet Jeju. Located in Seongsan, this aquarium confuses me to think if I am in a small blue universe or another planet.
Surrounded by unfamiliar lives and organisms in the reception area, the white sunlight feels so otherworldly, like some borderline for another universe. The place I stand on is completely blue and there lies some dim light dancing with the waves. But that outside world is so clear and sharp making it look rather artificial and unreal.
Everything about this aquarium was unfamiliar. The small bubbles the organisms made underwater became stars and drifted upwards and the waves floated away like clouds. A school of stingrays moved like fleet of space ships under order to advance. These mystical and eclectic lives underwater were generally so different from the lives above. The flexible and elegant fish moving around the middle of the ocean did not seem like they were swimming but flying. I wondered what would it be more beautiful, to fly and see through the eyes of birds or swim and see through the eyes of fish.
It was a world of absolute unknown. Every moment, I felt like I'm in the middle of the vast universe. Without the artificial light reflecting from the glasses, I would have thought I was in the water. I had to physically touch the thick cold glass wall to make sure I wasn't. I kept imagining my hand can somehow pass this wall and touch the water. Had I been told that it is only a hologram that I am seeing, I wouldn't have made second guesses.
At these human made zoo or aquarium, it can be viewed as a space of self-importance or that it is human-centered. But once you get inside, it is hard to think of anything but be completely immersed by the scenery. Seeing the fish peacefully swimming in the aquarium, I began to wonder if I were trapped in some sort prejudice about places like this. Hanwha Aqua Planet Jeju dedicates a lot of energy to preserve the ecosystem. Not only do they check the health of all lives in the showing room, but purify the seawater of Jeju as well. Even in worst-case scenario, they'll at least take good care of the organisms to attract visitors.
I initially thought half an hour would be plenty of time for this place but it took me an hour and half to view it all. That was with my urge to stay longer pushed hard. If I really wanted to enjoy my imagination of being in the middle of the universe to the fullest, it may have taken more than 3 hours.
The highlight of this place is the last place of the viewing course was an aquarium called, Sea of Jeju. I saw people facing the universe in front of the aquarium that was bigger than life. I became a dot to watch them quickly move back and forth. And the people became lines to connect each dot.
It was a small blue universe, a planet and the sea.