We woke up early this morning to go kayaking and watch the sun rise. It was one of the most wonderful things we've ever done. The water is so clear and it was so peaceful watching the fishing boats begin to head out to catch their daily wares. There was about 10 in our group and a guide so there were six kayaks - 2 people to each kayak, except for the guide. The price was good too, only 13,000 won.
We traveled along the coast and this is where we could really notice and appreciate the volcanic rock which is the bedrock of the island. It's black and craggy looking but the island itself is alive in colour from the forests of trees to the rolling hills (they call them mountains) and fields of yellow canola glowing in the sun. All of this colour contrasting with the robin-egg blue sky and the dark azure of the water. It was hard to paddle and take photos or I would have been snapping pictures continually.
Thankfully the tour was only two hours because we could barely move our arms after. It's a great way to travel, to see the island from a different perspective and very friendly on the environment but man oh man, it's tiring too.
We quickly went back to the hotel to check out. For our last night in Korea we decided to do something really cool and somewhat unique to Korea. We are spending our last night in a mingbak - basically a homestay. We grabbed our bags and headed to the family of Mr and Mrs Lee - a wonderful couple who have grown up on Jeju Island and raised their kids but now their kids have moved away and they rent out their spare room to travelers. It's kind of like a B&B but more personal.
After some tea with the Lee's we were off to our next adventure - a submarine tour (I hope there are no giant squid in these waters). The tour takes about one hour and costs 51,000 won. It only goes to a depth of about 30 metres and travels approximately 2.8kms but it's an excellent way to see the seas below Jeju. We saw soft corals and different species of fish. As colourful as Jeju is on top, it's just as brilliant below the water.
The submarine ride itself was pretty cool! Everyone got to have a window and thankfully nobody freaked out about being in a submarine. It is not an experience any of us will soon forget I'm sure and was much less taxing on our sore arms than the alternative scuba diving tour we thought about doing. Though that would have been pretty awesome as well.
Back on land we decide to head for lunch and try another Jeju specialty - Bingtteok. They are a kind of rolled rice cake (Bing means "to roll" in Korean). Blanched, sliced radish and bean sprouts are mixed in the buckwheat-flour dough and this, in turn, is fried and rolled to create delicious Bingtteok. They were a bit chewy but went great with a glass of Hite - a popular Korean microbrewery beer. We also bought some gamgyul, a citrus fruit, that was recommended to us from a street vendor. He told us during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1920) it was served to royal families but is now a main product of Jejudo Island. The taste was so sweet and delicious. I'm sure we'll be getting more of those before we leave.
This afternoon we decided to take a "small" trip around the world and visit the Jeju Soingook Themed Park. It's one of Jeju's major attractions and is home to more than 100 miniature replicas of famous landmarks including the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Basilique du Sacre-Coeur, and Tower Bridge. Now we've got pictures of ourselves from all over the world. It was pretty fun to see landmarks we've never seen before - all in little miniature size. There was also a cultural centre where we could learn a little more about Jeju islanders and the rock formations which have built this amazing, diverse island. It's only 9,000Wan which is a great price for the amount of time we spent there.
When traveling with a couple of chocoholics how could we not cap the afternoon with a visit to the chocolate museum?! Its only 4,000 won so how could we not! The Chocolate Museum in Seogwipo is the second largest chocolate museum in the world (the largest being the Cologne Chocolate Museum in Germany). There are three floors including a gallery, theatre, workshop and retail shop. Of course one of the most popular areas is the workshop where we got to watch the chocolate making process and even try a few samples. Jeju chocolate is made in the time honoured tradition but there's something wonderful and unique about the taste which we can't begin to describe. It absolutely melted in our mouths! We made sure to hit the store before leaving so we could stock up on supplies. Even the building is unique. It's built of volcanic scoria unique to Jeju and looks like an ancient castle. There's even a little cadao god statue which welcomes visitors at the front entrance.
What a day, we've done so much and saw so much. There is so much to do on Jeju that it's hard to fit it into such a short visit. We ended the day with a quick dinner of noodles and some more delicious gamgyul fruit with the Lee's then decided to hit the hay. Its our last day in Jeju tomorrow and we'll be sad to say goodbye especially as this means our adventure to Korea is nearly over.