South Korea – Jeju Island

Thursday June 28 We started a bit slowly after our big night at the ball game in Busan. We packed up, checked out of SUM, and took a cab to the airport, where we grabbed lunch before taking a quick hop over to Jeju Island. Cabs are very cheap in South Korea, which is great because it was to be our primary form of transportation on the island. Jeju is a volcanic island dominated by a single peak (Mt. Halla, or Hallasan), which lies to the south of the rest of South Korea.

Upon arrival we picked up a map and a bus schedule, hailed a cab to our hotel, and promptly fell asleep until dinner time. Too much fun the night before! We wandered the area around our hotel and found a street full of restaurants and bars. We thought we’d try a place called Red Station advertising “hot chicken”. We ordered two types (wings and chopped up meat) and some rice balls on the side. No false advertising there! It was pretty spicy. One thing I really liked is that they provided plastic gloves to wear while eating the wings, so you have clean hands when you’re finished eating. What a great idea!

Friday June 29 We visited the Kimnyoung Maze Park and Manjanggul Cave. We figured out we needed to take the bus out to those locations, and then grab a cab from where the bus dropped us off. So we went to the bus terminal, and lined up for the bus. A kind young lady (Yeonwoo) noticed we were speaking English and asked us where we were from and where we were going. It turned out that she had gone to Regina to learn english, and lived in Montreal for a bit too! She was great – getting us sorted with our bus tickets, and then offering to share a cab with us and her mother. She negotiated with the cabby, and we tackled the maze together. Then we headed to Manjanggul Cave, which I absolutely loved! You descend some stairs into the lava tube, and then walk along it, observing lots of interesting features like pahoehoe, lava stalactites and stalagmites, flow lines, lava rafts and others. For me, the highlight of this cave was at the end of the walk down the section accessible by tourists – the 7.6 m column which is the largest lava column known in the world, although a lava raft shaped like Jeju Island called Turtle Rock was attracting a lot of attention too.

We took a cab and the bus back with Yeonwoo and her mother, and swapped contact information. It was the end of their holiday, and she was returning to her home near Seoul. Perhaps we will see her again next week! We grabbed dinner on the same street as before, this time it was black pork, a Jeju Island specialty. Once again, Mike was grill master and he did a great job.

Saturday June 30 We climbed Hallasan, the highest mountain in South Korea (1950 m elevation). Mike wrote a post about Jeju as well. Check out his post for pictures and a description of the hike!

Sunday July 1 The first Canada Day I haven’t been at home to celebrate. We slept in late, recovering from the big climb the day before. We decided that despite the rainy season wet weather, we’d head down to the beach. We headed to nearby Iho beach. By the time we were ready to leave the hotel, the day’s rain had already begun, but we found, to our surprise, that a bunch of people were in the water anyway! We walked up and down the two-toned sand beach a bit, and checked out the storefronts too, before deciding to get lunch at one of the kiosks set up on the beach. We opted for another green onion pancake, this time with lots of chopped up octopus in it, had a few beers, and waited for the rain to subside. Once it started drying out, we went back out to the water, which was surprisingly warm! We headed back to the hotel for a nap and some dinner of mandu (Korean dumplings), which I paired with some bibimbap, while Mike ate some teriyaki chicken and noodles.

We went back to the hotel with some soft drinks and snacks and settled in for a night of writing, and packing, and waited for the Euro Cup final, which began at 3:45 am!

Monday July 2 Well, I only made it through the first half of the soccer game, but Mike watched it all. We woke up, packed our bags and caught a cab to the airport where we continued on to Seoul!