Summer Vacation Part 4
I was really excited to go to Jeju, South Korea’s largest island. I couldn’t wait to see the blue skies, warm sunshine, beautiful beaches and the palm trees. We were saving the best for last on our summer vacation…or so we thought. Mother Nature decided we still hadn’t seen enough rain yet. It rained, I mean poured, all but 30 minutes of our three day visit. No exaggeration. I’d like to say the weather didn’t stop us from doing everything we wanted, but it did. We were still able to have a great time, we just didn’t see nearly as much as we’d hoped and there certainly wasn’t any beach time. Perhaps just another reason to go back someday.
Jeju is accessible by ferry (about 10 hours, depending on which port you depart from) or a short flight from one of Korea’s airports. We chose the latter and took a 40 minute flight from Busan. We had difficulty deciding where to stay on the island since we wanted to see quite a few different things that were spread out over the island, and we knew we’d be using public transit. In the end we went with The Forest Hostel in Jeju City. While we had an okay stay at this hostel, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. Our room had an endless supply of giant, hungry mosquitoes and it smelled like a pile of dirty, damp towels. But, there was a nice common room and the owners were pleasant.
The unfortunate thing about using public transportation (buses) on Jeju is that is takes several hours, one way, to get to the other side of the island, and many of the sites we wanted to see were not within close proximity to each other. We tried to be strategic about making an itinerary since we were a little restricted by bus timetables, but the crummy weather made it even more challenging than anticipated (mostly because we found ourselves getting tired of being wind blown and soaking wet). We planned on hiking Hallasan, South Korea’s tallest peak (yeah, yeah, it’s only 6,397 feet high but it’s still a mountain), but we opted not to due to really strong winds, sideways rain and lightning. Instead, we went underground and explored Manjanggul Cave, one of the most impressive lava tube systems in the world, and checked out some of the beautiful Jeju Olle Trails that go around the perimeter of the island. Oh, and cannon balls into the sea as well.
Surprisingly, we didn’t indulge in seafood on this leg of the trip. We were on an island and didn’t eat seafood, really? Yes, really. We decided we’d splurged enough on fresh seafood in Gyeongpo, and after trying Jeju’s famous black pig barbecue on our first night (a species on Jeju known to be more tender than others), we decided it was so good we had to go back the next night too.
Even though the trip didn’t go as planned and we didn’t get to cross everything off the list, it was still unforgettable and an excellent experience (largely do to a great travel companion). I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.