The great part about being in a small country is that you actually can scope out a city in a weekend. A few of my co-workers and I took a cheap flight to Jeju this weekend. At first I was skeptical about how much we would actually be able to see but after being here its amazing to see how small this place really is.
Renting a car is the best bet for Jeju and being with Koreans is a great plus since you do need a license and some Korean navigation skills to do so.
After flying in Friday night we wanted to go to Shilla hotel for drinks since we had heard it was nice and classy. We didn’t realize it was at the bottom end of the island and we were couchsurfing in the north, in Jeju-si, the main city. But it turns out it only takes 40 mins by car to reach the bottom which is amazing!
Unfortunately the hotel bar was closed but it was as classy as expected. So we took advantage of the photo ops and rested for a big day Saturday.
We started the day in Sapchikochi which is a great lookout point on the east part of Jeju. You get a great view of the crater which Jeju is famous for since its a volcanic island. This makes the rock formations on the island black and lava-like which is a very distinct feature which many Koreans come to see here. So this makes Jeju one of the most popular vacation spots known as Korea’s Hawaii (altho that MAY be a long shot!) due to its tropical temperature in comparision to the mainland.
Udo Island is also of the east coast and is a 15 min ferry ride. It is called Udo (meaning cow) because Koreans claim it looks like a reclining cow. This is also where the hanyeos are which are women divers who dive with no gear in any weather condition. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any probably because it was a pretty rainy and windy day.
Udo was very rural, with cows and horses and lots of green scenery which was a fresh change from city life. Udo also has Korea’s only white sand beach but it’s a fairly small stretch like most beaches in Jeju. It’s seems pretty small and inessential in comparision to the beaches of anywhere tropical yet Koreans come to Udo specifically for this.
We ended the night with a visit to Love Land which is a sex museum displaying gigantic displays of phallic sculptures. The irony was that this was located in a country where the emphasis is solely on love, not sex and I have yet to figure out how Love Land is successful in this culture.
Sunday was another big day which we started by hitting the breakfast buffet at Shilla (yep, we love that place!) which was amazing! It gave us the energy we needed to hit a tea plantation, followed by the chocolate museum (which was the most disappointing part of our trip due to the fact that museum was more of a display of tacky collector items). We ended the day with some much needed beach time at Jagmun beach where the water was divine! It’s a shell beach where the sand feels great on your feet and the shells are beautiful. Being a teacher, I collected a bagful of shells for crafts.
Like all things in Korea, Jeju as well is over-rated. Being on a peninsula you are financially limited to where you can go which is why it makes sense that Jeju is honeymoon island for Koreans who would rathar spend a quarter of the cash and hit up an island that is in their vicinity. It saves not only cash, but also time which to Koreans is just as precious as the wons.
We returned to Jeju Sunday night, an hour and 10 mins to get to Seoul. Not bad, not bad at all.
It felt like a hop, skip and a jump of a vacay.