A Travellerspoint blog

First trip in Korea

Exploring Jeju Island

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Summer vacation was the last week in July and we decided to head to one of Korea's most popular destinations, Jeju Island. Jeju Island is volcanic island, just south of the Korean peninsula and it is very popular with Korean honeymooners. The Korean and foreign teachers at our school all told us we only needed a few days to see Jeju. So we planned just over three days on Jeju and two days in Busan.

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Jeju is a volcanic island that features black sand beaches and stunning rocky shorelines. After several months in the urban jungle, we decided to get back to nature by conquering one of Jeju's ollehs (trails). Olleh number 10 wasn't too far from our guest house, so we chose that one. There are flags and arrows every few hundred feet so it was easy to figure out where we were going. It started out great. We saw the dramatic coastline, hiked around a volcanic crater and walked through some small villages. We made our way through some agricultural land and an old air field, when the trail went cold. No more flags or arrows. We retraced our steps to the point when we saw the last arrow and made sure we hadn't missed a turn. We hadn't. It was fairly hot and humid and we were running out of water. We decided to turn down another road that looked like it led to a larger road and we hoped for the best. We walked for about 20 minutes and were just about to turn back when we found another flag!

Relieved to be back on the trail we continued on and about half an hour later we ended up in another village. It seemed like a couple of cold drinks were in order so we stopped at a small shop. Feeling refreshed and fairly confident we were almost done with the Olleh we took off again. We soon came to another flag and an Olleh sign. The sign was for Olleh 11. Oops. Somehow we had gotten off Olleh 10 and ended up on Olleh 11. It seemed like a good time to call it quits, so we hopped in a cab and went back to the guesthouse.

The next day we decided to go to O'Sulloc Tea Museum. I LOVE tea, so this was especially exciting! Armed with directions from the woman at our guesthouse, we hired bikes and took off. It was only supposed to be 8 km. The pleasant bike ride took us through picturesque agricultural land. The only problem was.....we got lost.....again! We rode around for 2 hlours and never found it. We consulted our map, but we never could quite figure out where exactly we were, so the map wasn't much help. At least it was good exercise.

After the morning's adventure we headed to the beach at Jungmun. Jungmun is the resort section of Jeju and there many hotels and restaurants in the area. We wanted to check out the beach, which our Lonely Planet guide said was nice. The beach was crowded, which was to be expected, but nice nonetheless with a jungly cliff backdrop, golden sand and warm water. It was a great place to cool down for the afternoon.

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The next day we took the bus to the eastern part of the island to see Seongsan Ilchulbong, which is a giant volcanic crater. You can climb up to the top of the crater and apparently it is very popular among Koreans to watch the sunrise from here. The views were quite spectacular, but for the me, the highlight was the haenyo, traditional women divers. The haenyo can be seen in the waters all around Seongsan Ilchulbong and they do daily performances in front of their little beach side restaurant. The women are pretty incredible. Many of them are quite advanced in age yet they still don their wet suits and brave the water without any breathing equipment. You can sample the food they catch at their restaurant.

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There is so much more to see on Jeju Island and we wished we had stayed the whole week. The island is very laid back and quiet and a perfect place to experience some of Korea's natural wonders.

Posted by jenniferplante 05:48 Archived in South Korea Tagged jeju_island haenyo seongsan_ilchulbong Comments (0)

Soaking in Busan


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We were having so much fun in Jeju that neither of us wanted to go to Busan. Not really a great attitude, and definitely not our usual outlook towards a trip. Our mood wasn't really improved by the fact that it was raining when we got to Busan. After stopping to buy a couple of umbrellas, we made our way to the bus and found our accommodations, the Blue Backpapckers.

Since we had gotten on an earlier flight our room wasn't ready yet. No problem, we dropped off our things and headed out for lunch.

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After lunch, despite the rain, we headed out to Beomeosa Temple. The temple is in a magnificent location right in the mountains. I think the rainy weather made it seem more mystical because of the clouds drifting around the mountains. When we got there it was pouring and we had to wait under the eaves of buildings several times for the rain to abate. It's a working temple and as we walked around we saw several people praying and meditating.

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The next day we decided to go to Spa Land. Neither of us had ever been to a public bath and I was definitely apprehensive about getting naked and bathing with a bunch of strangers. After the initial shock, it was fine. After showering and soaking in various baths, I put the Spa Land uniform on and met Cassio in the relaxation room to try out the saunas. The hottest one we went into was 66* Ita was so hot I could barely keep my feet on the floor. After spending a few hours in Spa Land I felt really relaxed and my skin felt amazing!

After Spa Land, we went to the Jalgachi fish market. The market is very vibrant with tanks full of live fish just waiting to be bought and eaten. I wanted to eat sashimi at one of the restaurant stalls, but Cassio wasn't too keen, so we didn't do it. :( Maybe next time.

Instead, we went back to the neighborhood by our hostel and checked out the street food stalls behind the Lotte department store. We ate some chicken skewers and a little ball of fried dough that was stuffed with sunflower seeds and sugar. Yum!
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Although we we had been regretting our decision to go to Busan, it turned out to be a nice city that pleasantly surprised both of us. The vibe is much more laid back than Seoul and we saw very few foreigners while exploring the city. We didn't even get a chance to check out Korea's most famous beach, Haeundae Beach! I guess that means we'll have to go back to Busan...

Posted by jenniferplante 19:30 Archived in South Korea Tagged busan Comments (0)

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