Monday, June 25, 2012

Jeju Island, Korea: Tips from HT couple!

HT couple stepped into their 2nd -  7 wonders of nature...Jeju Island!  (the first was underground river in Puerto Princesa, Palawan). 

The whole island is volcanic.  It's always nice to see how nature works and the beauty it makes, thus, here we are!

How to get to Jeju?  There are several flights from Gimpo Airport ( a 20-30 min ride from Seoul center) or from Busan.  We flew from Gimpo via Eastarjet.  JejuAir is also a good option if timing permits.  There are several flights in a day for both airlines.  Thanks to the korean tourists who explores their own country's precious island.  (it's also honeymooners' haven)

Love seeing those dormant volcanoes around!  The highest mountain in Korea is Mt. Hallasan which is here in Jeju.  Hiking of course, is the most well-known activity.

Language is a barrier.  Either you rent-a-car as most of the streets signs are also in English or get an English-speaking taxi driver.  The nice thing about getting a cab is that you can relax and enjoy the scenery while getting some history from your driver (aka tour guide). ~ 150000 krw per day (a van good for 8-9 pax)

The best way to tour the island is by exploring East and West on separate days.

We started of with East...

This was a suggestion from our driver.  We said yes when we heard that this place is a virgin forest.  Indeed, it is.  However, this is being built with man-made sceneries therefore, you can't really depict a forestAnd the only way to go around is via this open train.   The place is pretty new and still under construction.

San-Kamburi volcanic crater - it was a nice walk up and the place is not too crowded. 

 Seongeup Folk Village - Hanok village is a series of traditional houses.  It showcased the life of the people in Jeju earlier.  (from top clockwise)

Black pigs are pretty common in Jeju and since HT couple loves kurobuta (from Japan), we definitely wanted to try this type on our plate.

 The house was made of straw with pretty simple appliances inside.  The jar is used by Jeju women to get water by carrying it with a basket.

  Dolharubang are considered their gods especially for those women giving birth (to wish for male/female) or for those who wanted to get pregnant (by rubbing their nose).  These are just folklore and has no basis as the statues look like (reproductive organ of males). 

Omija tea (5 taste), are fermented in this jar with honey for a year.  You can get it in this village or in any of the supermarkets.  Mix it with cold water and drink it as iced tea.  It's also a medicinal drink for people prone to cough and cold.  They also have horse bone pills (which i have tasted and i almost threw up) and other horse products

 Jeju is a rainy island so people before constructed this jar with straw to benefit from it.

What completes an exciting trip? :) Food!!! - click the picture to drool!
Pajeon - pancake made of spring onions and for our variety - we got mixed seafood
Haemul Jeongol - seafood casserole consists of crabs, shrimps, abalone, squid, fish, vermicelli and veggies.  With all the ingredients, it just made the soup perfect in taste.
Abalone - is part of the seafood casserole and is also a must-have when in Jeju.  The most famous dish is the abalone congee/porridge.
Okdom - sea bream is a local specialty of Jeju.  The fish is salted and dried.  It is usually served grilled.  The white flesh is flavorful and not too salty.
Banchan - the small side dishes that comes in every korean meal.

 Seongsan Ilchubong Peak (Sunrise Peak) - HT hubbie hiked this mountain while HT wife together with HT family stayed below while enjoying the structure of the volcanic mountain and the serenity of the water. 

The female sea divers...

They catch abalones, which they eat raw.  We were lucky to see a female diver who caught an octopus (middle picture).

There are several shows wherein it tells the history of haenyeo as well as the actual diving and catching of seafood (their diving is just with mask - traditional way therefore no tanks)

Manjanggul Lava Tube (left) - This was the most unusual site we've been to.  Also known as Manjanggul cave, it's a 2-storey cave just made out of lava.  We walked about 2 km back and forth and it's just amazing how such structure was nature works by itself.  Better wear hiking or rubber shoes as it is rocky inside.

Now on the west side:

We took this boat tour(right), to see more lava formation around the island.  There's a commentator in this boat tour but too bad, it was only in Korean.  The view was amazing though.

One of the nicest place to see in Jeju is cheonjiyeon fall (at Seogwipo).  The path going to the fall is just as beautiful.  There are activities/games that you can do on your way out. 

Eatint time again, black pig are typical domestic animals in Jeju therefore, it's not unusual to see this type of meat on the table.

Eating in Korea has been very healthy (don't look at the fat streaks of the pork belly :D).  For this meal, we have to  take a leaf and place on all types of spices such as garlic, onion, soybean chili paste and other veggies part of banchan.  Take a piece of meat, dip it in the salt, pepper, soy mix, and place it on top.  Wrap it up and put the whole thing into your mouth. It is a sin to bite it :)   

O'Sulloc green tea farm -  It was lovely walking around the field but what I love the most is the green tea ice cream!  We also got a few grams of dried green tea leaves and we were taught on how to make it (I thought we can just leave it in hot water).  Use 80 - 90 degrees celsius water, dip the green tea bag for about a minute and voila, green tea at its best. 

As part of our tour, we drove into Mysterious Road, wherein drivers put their gear in neutral but the car still moves.  Check it out yourselves and discover the mystery :).

HT couple's favorite pasttime when in another country...Grocery shopping!   We love Lotte supermarket!  This is what I miss in Asia (big supermarkets, huge varieties).

 (The dog is not for sale, it's just so cute that they have lockers for pets).

Our last meal in Jeju...Bibimbap!   And yes, HT wife finished the full bowl! (burp)

 There are more things to do in Jeju if you have enough time.  We covered these places for 2 days and wouldn't mind to be back...maybe to do some diving in Seogwipo or do some serious hiking.

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