Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Summer Holidays in Sunny Jeju-do!

Sometimes monsoon season gets the best of you. You're tired and grumpy because, let's face it, no one wants to get out of bed when it's grey and dreary outside. Your tan that you've been able to maintain since your trip to Southeast Asia is now fading to a dull beige. You want to enjoy the outdoors but you simply can't. and you're getting cabin fever from being inside all day.

Enter summer vacation and the beautiful island of Jeju-do!

Note* "Do" in Korean, means both island and province. Jeju-do is an island (Jeju-do) annnd a province (Jejudo). Maybe it's the other way around... help me out here, people.

Anyways, it doesn't matter. The point is, I was feeling dreadful for weeks and needed a beach holiday *pronto*. So did some of my friends, although Patrick thought he would have to go to Japan and didn't accompany me.

I hate airplanes... like, a lot. It's a phobia of mine. So I didn't even consider taking the much easier and not-too-expensive option of simply flying to Jeju, which you should all probably do. I took the bus at some ungodly hour to the port city of Mokpo, and then took the ferry to Jeju, which took an entire day of travelling- made much worse by a monsoon which hit the path of the ship on the way and resulted in everyone around me (minus myself) puking ramyeon into little paper bags. Yuck!

On a sunny day, I assure you, the boat is a lot of fun!

The next day I met two of my friends at the airport and we spend our first day enjoying the scenery (the monsoon had been replaced with beautiful, glorious sunshine). We went to Udo (Cow) Island off the East coast of Jeju and rented some bikes. We did a little sight seeing and hung out on the beach, but we didn't go swimming because the water on that side of the island was freeeeeeeezing.

We found a nice motel near Hamdeok Beach and we spent the next few days using this area as our home base. There was a great little restaurant run by a Korean family, and the mother used to live in the States. She spoke excellent English and she made us "American" breakfasts every morning- bless her. She also made great cheeseburgers.

We used a taxi to get around, since it wasn't very expensive between the three and then four, and five of us (our friend, Elaine, arrived the next morning and our friend, Jeff, arrived later that evening) to share. Generally speaking, if you're going to Jeju alone, you're best bet is to a) rent a scooter (fun!) or, b) use to bus system, which isn't hard to figure out. There's basically one route around the whole island.

Hamdeok beach was amazing- full of people, sure, but it was surrounded by beautiful, green hillsides and the water was nice and shallow a long way out. Very wavey, as well, so it was fun to play in the water.

We got some sunburns, ate some "doongdedji", otherwise known as the famous Jeju specialty, poop pig (they weren't cooked with poop, of course, but historically the pigs in Jeju would live under the outhouses and... well... eat shit). Putting the poop thing aside, the pork was very high quality and some of the most delicious samgyupsal (and other mysterious pig pieces) I have ever eaten. We also spent a lot of time sitting outside convenience stores, drinking beer and having a laugh.

Vacations are necessary, aren't they? And I think teachers, above all other professions, need a nice, long holiday to de-stress. Not that I'm a real teacher, I'm thinking more about my Mom. Imagine doing this for 30 years... I don't think so!

Beautiful Hamdeok!

Palm trees galore...

The very crowded beach...

Enjoying some conversation, beer and ramyeon with Jeff... and fireworks...

Night out with the girls in Jeju-si (Jeju City).

Sara and Sophie, agonizingly waiting for their cheeseburgers to arrive. We were so hungry.

Checking out our pics from Udo.

Being silly, waiting for my dinner.

Our gorgeous boat ride back from Udo.

Sophie and Sara on the ferry- we were watching some giant jellyfish in the water. They were fricken huge!

I love my pink bike!

Udo Island Beach

Biking around Udo...

Our awesome, retro bikes.

Udo Beach, from the ferry.

Sara and Songsan Ilchulbong, the famous extinct volcano crater.

Sophie et Moi

Songsan Ferry Terminal


kushibo said...

Note* "Do" in Korean, means both island and province. Jeju-do is an island (Jeju-do) annnd a province (Jejudo). Maybe it's the other way around... help me out here, people.

I think it's the other way around... I think!

IIRC, administrative endings (-gu, -dong, -si, etc.) are supposed to be separated by a hyphen, but not so with geographic feautres like do.

I think!

Chris said...

Island looks SWEEEEET!!! How much was the ferry?