01.03.2012 22 °C
We took the overnight ferry from Busan to Jeju Island. The boat ride left at 7 pm and we finally arrived on the beautiful island of Jeju at 6 am - 11 hours later (yawn). We could have flown on a number of airlines including Korean Air but the chance to do something different and the budget-appealing price of 43,000 won couldn't be beat. We were pretty exhausted as we didn't sleep much on the ferry but WOW, Jeju is amazing!!
Located off the south coast of the Korean Peninsula Jeju was formed by volcanoes and is in the shape of an oval measuring 73km long and 31km wide. It's larger than we thought with a permanent population of 600,000 though it's one of the most popular vacation spots for Koreans so that number can balloon during peak tourist season.
Jeju Island is sometimes referred to as "Samdado Island" meaning "three many" because of it's abundance of rocks, women and wind. Wind blows steadily throughout the year and because of it's southerly location has warmer weather than the rest of Korea. Past volcanic activity has littered beautiful and odd-shaped black rocks around the island and the island has a reputation of having many women from the days when fishing was the main income. Many men were lost at sea and the island gained a reputation for the plentiful women.
As we made our way by taxi to the city centre to leave our bags at the hotel we passed many Some were serious but some were pretty comical looking. It reminds me of Easter Island heads but smaller and different styles. We also saw small, round towers built of rocks called Bansatap. They're everywhere - at beaches, in front of houses, at tourist attractions, etc. It is thought these towers ward off evil and bring prosperity to the islanders.
Jeju Islanders speak Korean but because they were cut off from the mainland, for the most part, for so long before the invention of modern means of transportation they have developed their own unique dialect and culture. It's very much Korea but also, very different and we can see why people come here - we already love it too!
Today we spent the day touring Jeju City and then decided to head out for a hike on one of the Jeju Olle Trails. Many years ago locals built stone walls to protect their properties from the harsh sea wind and created paths between the houses to the village. They have now become an extensive system of 20 different trails throughout the island covering 329kms. The views we saw along the clifftop trail we took overlooking the water and the beautiful white sand beaches were breathtaking. We watched the sun begin to set over the water and made our way back into the city for supper.
Tonight we tried a Jeju Island specialty - seafood hot pot! We decided to share a Haemul-ttukbaegi. It's a delicious seafood soup made using shrimp, clams, and other kinds of shellfish. Soooo good!! But now we're off to bed. It's an early night as none of us got much sleep on the ferry and we have a big day planned for tomorrow.