A Travellerspoint blog

Jeju Island - Adventure Day!!!

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.

Jeju's fields of canola against the bright blue sea

Jeju's fields of canola against the bright blue sea

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.

submarine ride around Jeju Island

submarine ride around Jeju Island

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.

Chocolate makers at Seogwipo

Chocolate makers at Seogwipo

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.

Posted by jillandreajodi 08:28 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Jeju Island - Our last full day in Korea

sunny 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.

Hamdeok Beach

Hamdeok Beach

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.

The map of our trip

The map of our trip

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.
To boayo

Posted by jillandreajodi 08:28 Comments (0)

(Entries 11 - 12 of 12) « Page 1 2 [3]