Busan – Jeju-do, South Korea
Woke up to a sunny Busan (wish we had this weather the previous 2 days). Made our way to Cheonmasan-Ro to see the Chunma Sculpture Park. To our dismay, we climbed up to find the park under construction.
Back down we went and back to the hotel to pack our things to head off to the airport for Jeju Island.
Note- Songdo area is hilly so be prepared for the inclines if walking.
I grabbed Gimbap at the airport ₩4500. We flew with Jeju Air (1hr). Probably 80% of our flight was Highschool Boys going on a class trip. We took the bus from the airport to our hotel – Lotte City Hotel Jeju. It was a free day so we explored downtown Jeju. Walked to the Jeju five-day folk market 제주민속오일시장 however it wasn’t open this day so it was a ghost town.
Over to Dongmun Traditional market 제주동문시장. When in Jeju, you gotta have the black pig. We grabbed black pork jerky – Jeju gamgyul ₩6000.
You also can’t miss the “handsome men” dancing up a storm to serve you Lobster, crab and pork rolls. They sure pulled us in and we got the pork roll ₩9000.
After filling our bellies, we ventured to Yongduam Rock 용두암 and stopped by a Temple along the way. At Yongduam Rock, you go down the stairs and you will see the shape of a dragons head with it’s mouth open. We even spotted a few ahjummas (older aunties) on the rocks gathering sea critters. The sun set but the clouds made for a soft sunset.
We walked along the waterfront crossing the suspension bridge and found ourselves at Tapdong Plaza where we stayed for a while to listen to live music. Thinking what to eat for dinner, we ended back at Dongmun Traditional market. I got tangerine garlic Korean Fried chicken ₩7900. Jenn got a skewer and grilled shrimp and she also bought some oranges.
Mt Hallasan, Jeju-Do, South Korea
40460 steps today. New record for a single day. 14-17°C.
We hiked at Hallasan National Park. It’s a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. We took 2 buses and about 50mins to get to the start of the Seongpanak Trail. We reserved our day permit (free) online a month prior as they only allow 1000 visitors a day. When you get there, you goto the machines to print your QR code. Scan it at the gate and off you go.
Hallasan is the highest peak in South Korea at 1950M. Seongpanak trail is a whopping 9.7KM one-way (3-4.5hr up) to the top of this active shelf volcano.
We started at 820AM and got to the peak by 1130AM. We took brief toilet breaks at the 2 pitstops along the way. It is the longer trail but also the gentler of trails as Gwaneumsa is shorter and steeper but more scenic. I think my knees thank me for not taking it. People at the top rest for a bit and even bring hot thermos and have cup noodle before heading back down after enjoying the views.
Another perk of Seongpanak is the extra little addition of Sara Oreum Scenic viewpoint (0.6KM extra). We ended up going back down the same trail to go see it. Otherwise, what many people do is go up Seongpanak and go down Gwaneumsa.
Saraoreum was a nice treat as you need to wade through water to even get to the observation deck. Super refreshing and the water is cool and goes just under the height of your knees. Another little set of stairs and you get wonderful views. Just watch your bare feet on the screws in the boards. There were a bunch of aunties that were resting at this viewpoint and also offered us snacks after we took their photo for them.
All in all, we finally left the park at 530PM. To get your certificate, you need to make sure to take a photo up at the top peak and have your locations on as you will need to upload the photo for coordinates and also the reference number (you need to go onto visithalla.com to get reference number from inputting your reservation number in the submit reservation. Another hour and a bit on the bus. We worked hard so our first and only real meal for the day was at Donsadon for Black Pork BBQ. We got 600g for ₩66000. They cooked for us and we just ate. Walked home because hiking all day wasn’t enough.
West Jeju-do, South Korea
A beautiful day with 20°C weather.
We did a day tour with Jeju Island Yeha Tour – Western Island Exploration $126.05CAD.
You meet at the airport to board the bus. We got there with enough time to go have breakfast in the airport. I got the Jeju soft bean curd stew ₩11000 at Gyehyang Local Restaurant on the 4th floor by entrance 3.
Our Tour guide for the day was Douglas.
Our first stop was Hyupjae Beach. We arrived around 955AM and the tide had gone out so you could walk on the white sand. The white sand is not native to Jeju but possibly imported from the western side of the Korean peninsula or from Okinawa or Boracay since native sand is a dark brown/black.
Down the road, we then ventured to Hallim Park. It features 2 caves, a variety of scenic gardens, a bonsai garden, small zoo & a folk village. There is also the Hyeopjaegul Lava Tube 협재굴. At the end, I grabbed a mandarin ice cream cone ₩4000.
We went on a brisk forest nature walk filled before heading to a buffet lunch. Our bus was a full 42 people from 12 countries. Even met a couple from Toronto – representing Scarborough (formerly) & Mississauga. We made friends w/ people from Australia, France, Spain, Netherlands, UK, Philippines & USA.
After lunch, we went to O’Sulloc Green Tea Field. You can purchase your tea leaves and tea products as well as visit the cafe for green tea treats such as ice cream. You can walk the grounds and make your own personalized postcard with their stamps. O’Sulloc also is where Innisfree skincare originates from so you can also sample and purchase products there. To end the visit, you can walk through the field of tea leaf bushes.
Douglas was strict on time and unfortunately 4 people got left behind there as we needed to make the boat cruise time. We were all given the address of our next stop in case this were to happen which it did.
We hopped on the boat at Sanbang Cruises. The operator spoke in Korean the entire time but from what we got from it was he was funny as the locals were laughing up a storm during our boat ride.
The 4 people rejoined us after the boat cruise and we went to our final destination of Cheonjiyeon Waterfall. There are 3 waterfalls and a bridge. The first one is very far to get to the base but you can see it from the top. The second waterfall is the most photogenic if you want “the falls” – short and cute. The first waterfall is more of a trickle with a beautiful rock formation. Grabbed a mandarin juice ₩3000 and it was the perfect thing to end the tour day.
About an hour drive back to Jeju City from Seogwipo area. With our new friend Molly from USA (who also coincidently was staying at the same hotel), we had to show her Dongmun Traditional Market to see the handsome dancing men. I grabbed 2 donut twists ₩2000 which Jenn got last minute items then we walked the coast in search of seafood.
Dinner near the water at Bomulseon 보물선. We ordered the assorted sashimi set, buttery cheesy corn plate + a bottle of soju ₩68000. Molly doesn’t usually eat seafood or use chopsticks but we enticed her into getting out of her comfort zone. Little successes. We stayed long enough that the owners kept bringing out free food. We got tempura & fish stew.
To end the night, we stopped by McDonald’s (I got ice cream + small fries ₩2700) & Baskin Robbins.
Tidbits about Jeju-do:
-The island has well enriched soils as it is a Volcanic island to grow loads of fresh produce such as garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, tangerine, Clementine, pumpkins. Golden rod.
-The only unfortunate thing about stone sediment, the water doesn’t stay long enough. The water evaporates after 7-10 days so they need sprinklers/water tanks to aid in farming process.
-Volcanic Ash makes it enriched but even Volcanic pebbles with proper irrigation, produce can still thrive
-Produce, fishing and tourism are the largest categories for Jeju.
-Clementine harvesting season is actually winter season
-Tangerine season are from greenhouses in summer
-Pumpkin and sweet corn are harvested in May
-Broccoli, radish and cauliflower are harvested in the winter season
-Jan is 5-10°c – coldest season with maybe a few days of below 0°C.
-End of May on the southwest side is tea and garlic harvest season
-Jeju-do is 3 times bigger than Seoul
-Jeju-do is 2 times bigger than Singapore
-Jeju-do has a 650000 population
-90% of Island is lava stone
-Jeju top 3 – lava stone, wind & women
East Jeju-do, South Korea
We did a day tour with Jeju Island Yeha Tour – Eastern Island Exploration $111.89CAD.
Elin was our tour guide.
We had 27 people but Douglas (our Tour Guide from the previous day) was guiding another bus doing the same tour that had many familiar faces on it which we had done the West tour with the day prior. We kept crossing paths with them. The East tour is the most popular.
Our first stop was to Jeolmul forest where you walk through large cedar trees & you have a chance to walk over rocks for acupressure points for your feet.
Next we went to Seongeup Folk Village to see what homes use to look like with thatched roofs but also where people still reside in a few of the homes. We had a wonderful black pork lunch w/ all the sides.
New friends from Australia, France, USA, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Netherlands, Hungary, Italy & so much more.
We soaked up the sun at Gwangchigi Beach 광치기해변 with views of Seongsan Ilchulbong aka Sunrise Peak.
The highlight of the day – the Women Diver show. Jeju Haenyeo divers 해녀 are listed on the UNESCO representative list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity. We watched as 4 women suited up, sang & danced to a rather sad lyrical song (Ieodo Sana) about living a hard life due to physically challenging work but also because they they were looked down upon for it. It does come through that they have been able to overcome the difficulties to take care & provide for their families.
They freedived in front of us & scored the goods of the ocean for our entertainment. Their catch of the day is also available for purchase to be freshly prepared to be eaten after the show. The women are strong & the oldest was over 83 years old. They were quick but successful w/ their hauls of an octopus and many other sea creatures.
Even to this day, the divers work many jobs. One of the divers had to retire earlier from the performance as she had just come from working another part time job & physically wasn’t present enough to continue but you could definitely tell her dedication. She was also the oldest (over 83).
After the show, the more physical part of the tour – climbing up Ilchulbong (Sunrise peak) – about 40mins roundtrip of stairs and slight incline. The reward for the hike up and down was ice cream. A specialty of Jeju-do is oranges or peanuts. I got the Peanut ice cream ₩4000.
We ended off with Manjanggual Lava Tubes – longest one in Asia. It is chilly and damp underground. I do have to say our Tour Guide Elin, is fast – her normal walking speed compares to a speedwalker. After the drive back into Jeju city, we had dinner at Ilpum Soft Tofu. I got the Gogimandu (meat dumplings) ₩6000.
We grabbed our things from the Hotel and made our way to the airport. We flew with Jeju Air to Seoul (Gimpo)(1hr). In Seoul, we stayed in Hongdae at RYSE, Autograph Collection.