It really was an awesome little break and I was happy to get to see more of Jeju. I would recommend going there to everyone - make the trip. The beaches are beautiful, the people are friendly and there is SO much to do. Jeju-do, I love you!!
We only arrived on Jeju at around 20:00 Saturday evening. It was easy to catch a cab to our hostel for the night - Greenday. It's one of the nicest hostels I've stayed at in Korea and home to the cutest, fattest, big-eyed cat ever. We dropped our bags and went straight out to find food. We ended up at a little place selling bulgogi and sweet and sour pork (which we decided on). Was an average meal, the highlight being me (of all people, come now :P) being told to shut up by the staff. Well, her words were more like...*points at me* "you, go down". At least I think she said something like that. We left in search of beer and back at the hostel sat down to a game of mafia, a group favourite. The hostel has a no-noise policy after 11 so we packed it up and got an early-ish night.
On the Sunday we woke up and made a nice breakfast of eggs on toast - a little treat for someone who hasn't had a normal breakfast in a while (too lazy to cook in the mornings haha). Esti and Kevin went to pick up our rental car for the weekend (I believe it took Esti's alter-ego, Svetlana, to finally get that right) and by the time they got back we were packed back up and ready to explore. Having our own car gave us the freedom to travel where ever we liked and not worry about luggage, and between you and me, I think Kevin orchestrated this all just so he could drive again ;) Hey, we weren't complaining! We put some road trip tunes in (trying to decide on a play list proved difficult...Will's exclamations of "I'm putting my foot down now" went unanswered :P) and went in search of Love Land. Although I had been before, I went again for pure amusement. It took longer than expected to get there, and after wondering through the world of penises and awkward statues, we were all ready for lunch.
|The African Love statue. Cos you know, that's how we roll in the Ap-ri-ca.|
Some of us wanted to check out the Cheonjiyeon Waterfall before it got dark so set off there and took in the natural beauty all around us. We relaxed and had some coffee before stocking up on supplies for day 3 - Hallasan. That night we ordered some chicken and ate up on the roof, keen for an early night ahead of the big hike the next day. It's funny how entertaining 'eye spy with my little eye' can be.
|The view from Hiking Inn roof|
I have decided to throw away my hiking boots so as to never be temped to hike again. Okay no I'm joking and being totally over dramatic.
Day 3 saw us waking up early to make the journey to Mt Hallasan, Korea's highest peak and Jeju's famous volcano. I was apprehensive to say the least. Those of you following my journey here and those who know me understand that hiking in Korea has been a bit of a love/hate thing for me. Love the feeling of being at the top, love coming down, love the feeling of accomplishment and stiff limbs after but hate the process of getting up. Halla was no different. I am beyond chuffed to say I made it all 9.6 km up and 9.6km back down. Can I get a hells yeah. The hike itself wasn't all that difficult; the worst for me were the steps to the top...they seemed to go on forever. I think it was just the length of the hike that made it seem so tough. I struggle to keep myself motivated, and because I'm so slow and fall behind so quickly, I go through a pretty weird thought process whereby I argue with myself the whole way up. "what are you doing? why did you think you could do this? you should turn around now while there is still hope. you'll never make it. yes you will, you can do it. kill me now. nearly there" - these are some of them. As you can see, most are negative, no matter how hard I try to stay positive. And so the way up is not a fun time for me. But we made it, and it was worth it. We sat at the top, drinking in the views, watching some deer on the mountain and having 'snicker sandwiches' made by Cola: bread with peanut butter and nutella. The best has to be the guy who silently came to sit just up from us, and either he didn't see us or didn't realise his own strength but he proceeded to let out the biggest fart ever. We were all so surprised we just burst out laughing and when he noticed, he laughed and apologised before quietly making his exit. Oh Korea.
The way down was much easier and quicker and on jelly legs, we all made it down. It was back into the car and off to get wine and breakfast supplies before we could get home and enjoy hot showers. We went and had dinner at a quaint little place by the sea, but I think we were all too tired to really be enthusiastic. We went back to the hostel to eat a tub of ice cream (don't give us judgey eyes - we deserved it ;) ) before crashing into bed. It was a good day and the aching muscles were worth the experience and sense of achievement. Mt Halla - dominated.
|At the summit! FIGHTING!|
|View from the top|
|Crater lake at the summit. Photo credit to Su ^^|
A bit of a late start this morning to give our limbs time to stretch. We cooked bacon and eggs at the hostel before leaving on a mission to U-do Island. Our plan was to rent ATVs and explore the island. Oh haha, but Korea can laugh at out plans. It was easy to catch the 15min ferry to U-do, and the round trip only cost around \5000. Once we got there, we realised, too late, that EVERYONE had the same idea as us and rushed to the ATV places to find that no, we weren't going to do that. First off, it was so busy that there were no quads left to even hire. Secondly, the staff were all incredibly rude to us and uninterested in even acknowledging us. Thirdly, you need an international drivers licence to drive one - that was news. A note to anyone attempting this: we think that if you were to be there on a quiet day they might be a little more lax on the licence thing, but there were so many people there that they certainly did not need our business. Disappointment was on all of our faces and despite our best efforts, nothing was working. But we were there and decided to make the most of it. The energetic Esti, Kevin and Nicola hired bikes and set off exploring, while Su, Will, Meabh and myself went for a walk looking for coffee. Instead, we found an amazing beach and delicious burgers. Like these burgers were the best I've had in Korea and pretty high up there with best ever. So that was a win! After our burgers we walked onto the only white beach in Korea - made entirely of shells and choral. It was one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen, with crystal clear water that made you really feel like you were in paradise.
|Me with the 'sand' - Su's photo|
One of the highlights of the ferry was when a Korean man sauntered up to us and looked at Kevin, saying something along the lines of "You, you look like Korean, but you speak English. How about that?". It was just unexpected and funny and is one of the main reasons I love Korea so much.
We made it to Hamdeok beach, about 20 minutes outside of Jeju-si, in time to get some snacks and wine ready for the sunset. It was a great way to end the weekend. We watched a couple doing some kind of yoga/who-knows-what in the ocean and it was just an awesome island vibe.
|Note the yoga pose|
After having to wrestle the fat cat for my pillow half the night, we all woke up a little groggy and sad to be leaving :( The weekends always go so quickly and this one had been planned for and anticipated since April, making it fly by that much quicker. We were up and at the airport for our 9.50 flight home. Once back in Seoul, we had a 4 hour wait for our train, and made the most of it by having a delicious meal at Wolfhound - the fish n chips and soup were a welcome distraction from the thought that Jeju was over and done. Will and I also decided that the amount we say 'oh, Korea' pretty much gives those words profanity-status (does that even make sense?). Eg: Oh for Korea's sake!!! Or, alternatively, oh Korea off you twat ;) ㅋㅋㅋ
All in all, we had an amazing few days away. I would jump at the chance to go to Jeju again as I still don't feel like I've seen everything. A HUGE thank you to Kevin for driving us around - I would not like to be responsible for having to negotiate the Korean drivers and roads!