Jeju, the 'Hawaii of Korea,' is the southern-most island of South Korea and has been our home for the last year.
There's so much beauty and so many good times have been had here- some captured on film, some just in memory. Here's some highlights from the year:
To start, our engagement <3
Just when I have decided to swear off men and have some travel time to myself, Mr. Prince Charming came my way. Our courting period was short, but sweet. We just knew we were meant to be- our energy, our connection was instant and beautiful. We did not complete each other, but we complimented each other perfectly.
Second, Jeju's beautiful nature
The island is filled with natural beauty- from the lush green Hallasan Volcanic mountain to the aquamarine seas to unique volcanic lava formations. These breathtaking scenes are often on the Olle trails-hidden, off-the-road trails. There are about 13 trails that runs from the south east to the south west of the island- covering 216km of the island. Each trail takes about 6 hours to complete. Our goal was to do all the trails before we leave Jeju, so far, we've done Olle trail 1, 2, 3, and a bit of 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.
Sunrise Peak (Seongsan Ilchubong/ 성산 일출봉)
Seongsan Ilchubong Peak, on the most eastern point of the island, is known for its unique crater and gorgeous view of the sunrise.
Japanese Suicide Boat caves
Hidden away on the side of Sunrise Peak are old Japanese Suicide Boat caves, built during World War II. There are multiple cave entrances, and they are all connected on the inside.
Here are pictures of some oerums (volcanic mini-mountains), and beautiful sea shores of Jeju.
Inland on the Olle trail 1
Olle 1 inland-drying squid
Gwangchigi Beach (광치기해변)
love can be found anywhere
Olle 2 inland
Olle 2 Oerum
Onpyeong Port (온평포구)
Seogwi-po waterfall Cheonjiyeon Waterfall (천지연 폭포)
Seafood by the sea
There are amazing Korean female divers on Jeju, called Haenyeos. They dive into the ocean without any special diving gear to gather clams, seaweed, sea cucumbers, and all sort of seafood goodness. Many of these delicious treats can be found selling around the seasides, and even on some of the Olle trails.
One of the best memories was eating raw baby octopus.
James and I went to a seafood "restaurant" by Jungmun beach. They took a baby octopus out of their water tank-chop, chop, chop- and 10 seconds later, it was on the table- squirming, moving, and suctioning- served with hot sauce. James all bright faced was devouring the food, while I sat there and worked up my courage. I finally picked one up, it suctioned to my chopstick, I panicked and threw it into the hot sauce, and watch the little tentacle sauce itself. After a few big gulps of beer, I picked up my self-sauced tentacle and put it in my mouth. It suctioned to the roof of my mouth immediately. I didn't know what to do, so I spat it out. It was quite an experience- all for 15000 won
Beaches & Camping on the beach
I love the beach. I love being close to the ocean, hearing the waves crash, feeling the cool water. Unfortunately, growing up in Toronto, I didn't have a chance to experience the ocean. I have taken full advantage of the ocean in Jeju.
Chuseok Camping Weekend (October 2009)
Chuseok, the second largest holiday in Korea after Lunar New Years, is the harvest holiday; it's equivalent to Thanksgiving back at home. Since I have never been camping before, James and I thought this would be a great way to break me in and to explore the island. We planned a fun-packed weekend to go see Sunrise Peak and to climb Halla-san, which is the tallest mountain in South Korea at 1 950m above sea level.
The day we set out, my spirit was high and it was pouring rain.
After close to two hours of bus riding (from Seogwi-po), we were wondering in the rain, in the dark, wet and hungry and trying to find a place to eat and camp out, when we saw some foreigners in a Chicken and Beer place. We ended up meeting some awesome people, and had a few beers and some chicken.
A few beers turned into a night of havoc and fun.
I ended up setting up my first tent ever inside our new friend's motel, while it was still raining wolves and lions outside.
We partied in our new friends motel room until the police turned up in the middle of the night and told us that we were being too loud.. or rather, tried to. Due to their lack of English speaking skills, only one of the younger officers managed to stammer out "volume, volume" and used his hands to demonstrate 'too big'- we just wondered what they must have thought when they opened the door to see a tent in the middle of the floor, and found people hiding under the bed, on the balcony, and in the tent!
The next day, we were down in numbers. Those of us who remained packed up and took our hungover asses out to climb the peak. Afterward, we took a boat out to Udo island for 5000W. Named "cow island," because of its shape, Udo is the largest islet surrounding Jeju. We rented bicycles for another 5000W each and explored the island.
We rented a bicycle for 5 000 won and explored the island.
ATVs, scooters, and golf carts, are all available for rent as well. The island is about 16 KM in circumference. It took us about 2 hours to bike around, explore the cliffs, and laze around a bit.
Hwasun Camping Weekend (October 2009)
Off to the side of Hwasun beach, on Olle trail 9, below an ATV park, there's a beautiful quaint little beach hidden away. Out of all the times we've been there, all we've ever seen are a few Olle trekkers and a friendly dog.
Camping on the beach watching the stars at night.
Connected to Hwasun Beach, just to the west, is the Yongmeori Coast.
-A beautiful, majestic peninsula of lava formations.
Buddha's Birthday Camp Out! (May 2010)
Buddha's Birthday is another big holiday here in Korea. We decided to explore the west side of the island, and camp out at Hyeopjae Beach (협재해수욕장). The beach is filled with white sand and crushed seashells, the blue clear water reflects the palm trees and evergreens that surrounds it.
After sun tanning and swimming.
We (the girls), visited Hallim Park for 7 000 won each.
The park has different gardens and a folk village.
The boys relocated to Geumreung Beach (just south of Hyeopjae, though it's still considered to be part of it), as there are less people there.
They started gathering firewood, attempting to fish for dinner, and just being boys.
It was a fun night of bonfire, drinking, games, and s'mores
The next day, we visited Yakchunsa, located near Jungmun.
The biggest Buddhist temple in all of Asia
Memories of Jeju
Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival
Around mid-February, an oerum is set on fire to bring a good harvest in the upcoming year. It's a whole day event with hands-on crafts, dance performances, food tents, spectacular fireworks (the best I have ever seen in my life!), and the burning of the oerum.
Markets (5-day Markets, Seogwipo Aracade Market)
Instead of grocery stores, markets are quite popular here in Jeju. The markets are filled with fresh fish, herbs, vegetables, knickknacks, and street food.
James eating silk worm larva
James and I haven't visited mainland Korea much yet. So far we have visited Seoul, Busan, and Gyeongju. I personally like Busan the most. It was a perfect mix of metropolis and natural beauty. Seoul was just too busy-busy for me. Gyeongju was the Capital of the Silla Kingdom for a thousand years, and it's filled with historical treasures and attractions.
At Busan, dancing the night away.
Gwangli Beach, a beautiful beach located in the city
fall time in Gyeongju
Prior to leaving Korea, we're doing a cross-country west-coast trip from Mokpo to Seoul.
These highlights are only the tip of amazing experiences and memories.
Some last heavenly food for thought
McD's delivers! There are only two heavenly McDonald's on this island, and both of them don't deliver to where I live, which is probably a good thing for me :P