01.03.2012 23 °C
We woke up this morning with heavy hearts realizing this was our last day in Korea. It's been an amazing journey so far but as with all good things, it must come to an end. We also woke up with stiff backs. Staying with the Lee's was great and she served us a wonderful breakfast this morning but as is typical with the mingbak style, we slept on heated floors with just a pillow. But we only paid 10,000 won and the chance to experience a little taste of real island life was priceless.
The Lee's allowed us to leave our bags with them so we could explore on our last day before we fly out later in the afternoon.
There are a few museums on Jeju dedicated to the folklore and showcasing early life on the island but we chose to visit the Jeju Folklore & Natural History Museum as it houses displays which encompass many of the ones we wanted to visit all under one roof.
The museum is splint into four seperate halls - The Natural History Exhibition Hall which houses moslty natural historical items such as flora and fauna and marine life which gives visitors a better understanding of Jeju’s unique nature and culture; Folklore Exhibition Hall I with more than 2,000 items showing the ancient lifestyle on Jeju Island by recapturing Jeju’s traditional housing architecture, rites of passage, and regional food specialties; Folklore Exhibition Hall II exhibits diving gear used by Haenye (women divers) and farming tools used by farmers in Jeju-do; and the Outdoor Exhibition showcasing 100 items including traditional tools for daily living, ritual materials, and diverse stone structures made by volcanic rock.
We learned a lot about what life was like on Jeju Island and how things have changed for them most in thanks to the improvements in transportation allowing items and knowledge to be brought from the mainland. Yet with all the improvements many islanders have been able to retain a lot of their traditional culture and even though Jeju is definitely geared towards the tourism market there are plenty of opportunities to get away from the crowds to enjoy and experience the natural wonder of this amazing island.
For lunch we had Okdom-gui, grilled tilefish, a specialty of Jeju Island as it's the only place in Korea this fish can be caught. It is cut in half, partially dried, marinated with sesame oil, and then grilled. The taste is not overly "fishy" and is really quite nice. The fish has always been served on holidays and during rituals on Jeju and we're pretty glad we got to try some before we left.
The rest of the afternoon we decide to just soak in the beauty and enjoy some R-n-R before the long trek home begins so we take a taxi the short 14kms to Hamdeok Beach. It has gorgeous white sand, craggy black volcanic rock and clean shallow water and so we can go in up to our knees without getting our shorts wet. It's so great to just have a couple of hours to sit and contemplate this amazing trip.
Korea has a wonderful history, friendly and engaging people and a lovely culture we will all surely miss. From the excitement of Seoul to the unreal beauty of the DMZ, to the serenity of the temples in Gyeongju and the excitement of Busan to finally the history and majesty of Jeju Island.
Unfortunately it's time to grab our bags and head to the airport. We're boarding our Korean Air flight at Gimpo International Airport in Jeju City for the quick hop to Seoul and our long flight home. We have truly enjoyed ourselves and will have many fond memories to take home with us.