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.

Welcome to Jeju Island.

Welcome to beautiful Jeju Island.

Dol hareubangs (roughly meaning stone grandfather), which are statues carved from volcanic rock, can be spotted all over Jeju. Traditionally, they were carved and placed at village entrances to provide protection.

Dol hareubangs (roughly meaning stone grandfather), which are statues carved from volcanic rock, can be spotted all over Jeju. Traditionally, they were carved and placed at village entrances to provide protection.

The trailhead for Jeju Olle #1.  There's a stamp inside the box which you can use to stamp your Jeju Olle "passport".

The trailhead for Jeju Olle #1. There’s a stamp inside the box at the bginning of each trail which you can use to stamp your Jeju Olle “passport”.

Fields and wild horses along Jeju Olle #1.

Fields and wild horses along Jeju Olle #1.

This is when we had a 30 minute break from the rain.

This is when we had a 30 minute break from the rain.

The dirt/mud on the island was such a brilliant color.

The dirt/mud on the island was such a brilliant color.

More of trail #1. I love how green it was.

More of trail #1. I love how green it was.

View of Seongsan Ilchulbong from trail #1.

View of Seongsan Ilchulbong from trail #1.

Somewhere along trail #1.

Somewhere along trail #1.

The Jeju Olle Trails are marked with these blue and red ribbons.

The Jeju Olle Trails are marked with these blue and red ribbons.

The coastline in Seogwipo.

The coastline in Seogwipo.

We hung out under this pavilion for a while to see if the storm might pass. Nope, it was there to stay for several days.

We hung out under this pavilion for a while to see if the storm might pass. Nope, it was there to stay for several days.

Rain, rain, go away.

Lucky for us, cheap ponchos were for sale everywhere.

We stumbled upon this swim spot (the rain didn't seem to keep many people away) in Seogwipo.

Despite the rain, we stumbled upon this swimming hole in Seogwipo.

Panorama of the lagoons near Oedolgae Rock in Seogwipo.

Panorama of the lagoons near Oedolgae Rock in Seogwipo.

David doing a cannon ball into the lagoon near Oedolgae Rock.

David doing a cannon ball into the lagoon near Oedolgae Rock.

Enjoying the beautiful weather.

Enjoying the beautiful weather.

What rain?

What rain?

Oedolgae Rock stands 65 feet tall and was formed by a volcanic eruption 1.5 million years ago. According to legend, an old woman became the rock after waiting for her husband who went out to sea to fish and never returned.

Oedolgae Rock stands 65 feet above what is usually turquoise water (but not on this day due to the storms moving though). It was formed by a volcanic eruption 1.5 million years ago. According to legend, an old woman became the rock after waiting for her husband who went out to sea to fish and never returned.

A young Korean guy offered to take our picture. We didn't realize it was going to be a mini photo shoot. He took at least 20 photos from different angles.

A young Korean guy offered to take our picture. We didn’t realize it was going to be a mini photo shoot. He took at least 20 photos from all different angles.

Black pork street.

Black pork street where you can find an abundance of restaurants specializing in Jeju’s black pig.

I think David was very happy about this Korean barbecue experience.

I think David was very happy about this Korean barbecue experience.

Mmmm. Mushrooms, pork, kimchi, garlic, and bean sprouts sizzling right at our table.

Mmmm. Mushrooms, pork, kimchi, garlic, and bean sprouts sizzling right at our table.

When ordering bokkembap (fried rice), they use the bits of remaining meat, garlic, kimchi and onions that are on the grill and mix it with rice right at your table. They'll usually add dried seaweed as well.

When ordering bokkembap (fried rice), they use the bits of remaining meat, garlic, kimchi and onions that are on the grill and mix it with rice right at your table. They usually add dried seaweed as well. Also, you’ll notice he’s using scissors, the knife of Korea.

Testing the fried rice. It was delicious!

Testing the fried rice. It was delicious!

Exploring the Manjanggul Lava Tube.

Exploring Manjanggul Cave.

The underground lava tube.

Inside the lava tube.

A lava formation that looks a bit like a mushroom in Manjanggul Cave.

A lava formation that looks a bit like a mushroom in Manjanggul Cave.

Formation at the end of the lava tube (or at least the part that was open to tourists).

Formation at the end of the lava tube (or at least the part that was open to tourists).

More Korean barbecue because it tasted so good the first night.

More Korean barbecue because it tasted so good the first night.

Jeju is known for mandarins, tangerines and hallabongs (a cross between and orange and a tangerine).

Jeju is known for mandarins, tangerines and hallabongs (a cross between an orange and a tangerine).

Squid and giant plates of really cheap sashimi at the fish market near our hostel.

Squid and giant plates of really cheap sashimi at the fish market near our hostel.

We got some game time in while drinking tangerine flavored makgeoli in the common room of our hostel because, well, it was still raining.

We got some game time in while drinking tangerine flavored makgeoli in the common room of our hostel because, well, it was still raining.

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