Sunday 1 January 2012

Jeju Island

           Jeju... Korea's Mediterranean paradise! So the promotions claimed and I have to agree. Back over a year ago when we first started researching Korea Jeju island often popped up as one of those "you have to see" places in Korea. Promoted as a summer destination with beautiful beaches, stunning waterfalls and as much fun tourist activities as you could possible fit into a trip. We promised ourselves we would go. Now as the year here in Korea rolled on the summer came and went without our trip to Jeju and soon we began thinking of leaving Korea all without having seen Jeju so we decided it was time. With little planning we booked off the Monday and Tuesday the 28th and 29th of November and bought flights to Jeju.
          Now in the few weeks before our trip winter had arrived in Korea, minus 5 was the coldest day up until then and it was only getting started! We had resigned ourselves to the fact that until we left for warmer climates on our travels we would be cold on any venture outside...not in Jeju! It was amazing! A little island just over an hours flight away and it was warm! Now we weren't jumping into the sea for swims to cool down but we were able to abandon our hats, scarves and coats. After arriving Saturday morning we found our hostel which was clean and quiet and we had the whole dorm room to just the three of us. We dumped our bags and made our way to loveland! Loveland was one of our main destinations to visit on the island and we weren't disappointed. It was set-up in 2004 by art graduates from a Seoul university. There aim: to create art entirely dedicated to love and sex. Needless to say a lot of laughing was done as the three of us strolled around the park for over an hour posing for pictures and recreating statue positions. We had a great day and it certainly started the holiday off well.      

          Back to our hostel we got changed and out for a meal at an Indian restaurant we had heard many recommendations for. It was a cosy little restaurant with a wonderful relaxing and welcoming vibe and we happily sat at a table while they brought us menus. Opening the menus we were a bit dubious though as they only offered maybe 4 choices, we decided its about quality not quantity though and ordered. I'm glad we stayed because it was delicious. We had a few glasses of wine with our meal and felt that holiday feeling wash over us! After dinner we decided to have a few drinks before going to bed to be up bright and early. We headed to another recommended bar (which was almost empty-apparently because it was thanksgiving weekend) and sat down with some cocktails. One drink turned into two and let's just say next morning we didn't wake as early as planned! In fact poor Helena was confined to the bed the entire day so Dee and myself set off without her to explore the Mangul caves.
The lava caves
          Jeju island is a volcanic island and volcanic rocks can be seen all over the island with some of the islands beaches even being covered in black sand. Well this is what makes Jeju's caves interesting they are volcanic caves formed as lava flooded through them years ago. They are the  longest lava tube cave system in the world and it was beautiful. Being budget concious and in preparation for our travels Dee and I used the local bus service to get as close as possible to the caves as possible which still left us with a 2km walk from the main road. In the sunshine and lovely surrounding the walk passed quickly but by the time we reached the caves Dee and I had both stripped down to our t-shirts and we were eating ice-creams bought along the way.   The caves were beautiful and we walked about another 2km inside the caves themselves before making the  trip back down the hill towards the bus again. On our walk back down though we came across a maze park set up my an american guy who had been living in Korea 50years. While paying our entrance they asked us how we had gotten there and when we said we walked we were given a discount on our entrance fee for being "green". I really liked that idea and thought that if more businesses had incentives like that walking would be a lot more popular. Dee and I were both given a map which we were told to not look at until 30mins were up. We then split up and the aim was to race each other to a bell which was hidden in the centre of the maze. I was walking around trying to figure out which direction was the centre when Dee came running at high speed from the opposite direction. This happened a few more times in the next few minutes and then at one final chance meeting a korean woman pointed us in a direction and the final race was on. The bell was on a raised wooden platform and we were neck in neck at the base but I got on the step first and despite Dee trying her best to hold me back I rang the bell first! After a minutes rest we continued on our walk back to the bus stop and headed back to Jeju city to wake Helena. After a quick talk we changed and got ready for dinner and we decided on Mexican food. Just down the road from our hostel a lovely Mexican restaurant and we all sat for yet another enjoyable meal in Jeju. We had learned our lesson from the night before so we decided to skip the alcohol and went to the cinema instead. Going to the cinema in Korea is always an experience as you settle for whatever movie is playing in English at the time.That night the next English movie was 'Real Steel'. We had about an hour wait before it began so Dee went shopping and Helena and I went to get our nails done (another interesting experience with our (lack-of) Korean skills). We had not heard much about the movie and resigned ourselves to it just passing time but we were surprised. 'Real Steel' was such a feel good movie. At one point in the movie Dee was actually cheering and clapping out loud! We all laughed and cheered and had that happy feeling in our stomachs and left praising it completely and so to bed we went then contently and with smiles on our faces.
          Next morning bright and early we headed to the bus terminal to catch a bus to the east side of the island. The bus journey took over an hour and cut through the island. We arrived at the ferry port and caught the next ferry over to Udo island, a smaller island off the coast of Jeju. Now one of our main reasons for going here was to quad bike around the island but on arriving it turned out you needed an international licence which only I had (and luckily I had brought with me). Unfortunately one licence wasn't enough to rent three golf carts so our next best option: a golf cart. Yep, Dee, Helena and I rented a golf cart and leisurely drove the ring of the island stopping at the various sights and for walks on the beaches, etc.
After making a full ring of the island we hopped on the next ferry back to Jeju and from there headed to the famous Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak), it is one of the main reasons that Jeju is the Cliffs of Mohers competition to be one of the next wonders of the world! It was gorgeous alright. The remnants of a volcano leaving behind a peak rising over the waters edge with a bowl like top. It is famous for how beautiful the sunrise looks from it's peak (but we decided sunrise was a little earlier than we would like to get outta bed on holidays so daytime did us just fine).

          For our last our last night we went for dinner and then had a stroll around Jeju city stopping for hot chocolates in a little shop..yum! Then off to bed early ready for our flight home the next day. We went shopping our last morning and caught the bus to the airport to go back to reality! Jeju was wonderful and I really enjoyed our little trip to Korea's Mediterranean.

1 comment:

  1. hi dear,

    how much you rent for the golf cart?