Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Jeju Island, South Korea

They say Jeju is like the “Hawai’i” of South Korea… and I can sort of see why. Jeju Island (also known as Jejudo) is a volcanic island and the largest island off the coast of the Korean Peninsula. Jeju, itself, is a popular getaway for vacationers andhoneymooners. With it’s lush landscape, volcanic craters, pristine waterfalls, stone statues, and laid-back attitude, who could resist?

I originally thought that I wouldn’t be able to travel to Jeju, since I’m at that broke-college-student-phase. My good friend, Thi My (also a student at Sungkyunkwan University), convinced me to think about going to Jeju for the weekend and when she showed me how cheap the round-trip tickets were, I couldn’t refuse. I had to take the opportunity because who knows? I may not have another chance to visit Jeju again.

Thi My and I visited Jeju in early December and on our first day of being there we decided to hike Mount Hallasan — the highest mountain in South Korea. This was by far the LONGEST (and most strenuous) trail I EVER hiked. I seriously gave Thi My the “look” when she told me the hike would take approximately 8 hours at the least… 8 GRUESOME hours! In the end, I just went along with it and I figure I needed exercise since I’ve been eating too much dessert since coming here to South Korea. After 30 minutes of hiking the trail, I was already feeling the burn (and feeling so much regret). Hiking up to the summit is one obstacle, but hiking down is just as brutal. In order to make it up to the summit, you need to arrive at the Jindallaebat Shelter by 12:00PM and Thi My and I made it just in the nick of time at 11:50PM. From the shelter, it takes an additional 1-1 ½ hours to hike up to the top. My legs, butt, and feet were in so much pain the day after and I was stiff everywhere… literally! And even more surprising, I saw old people and little kids hiking the tall mountain. Unreal! 
Our weekend was packed with lots of physical activities, and the morning after we hiked Seongsan Ilchulbong (otherwise known as “Sunrise Peak”) and boarded a ferry to Udo Island. From there, we rented out bicycles and rode them around the entire island. Unfortunately, Thi My and I were unable to rent out a car so we had to settle for bus as our mode of transportation. If you’re using the bus in Jeju and you don’t know how to speak Korean, I highly recommend that you have the bus stop directions written in Hangul to show the bus driver. Majority of the locals here in Jeju may not speak English so well. Getting around or ordering food was a little more difficult for Thi My and I compared to being in Seoul.
Jeju is also known for their tangerines and we were able to buy a full bag of tangerines for cheap! I can’t tell how many tangerines we ate during that weekend, but we definitely needed that vitamin C. I did want to visit other places throughout Jeju but we were short on time. If you’re ever planning to visit Jeju, I’d say a week of vacationing there is preferable. There were so many things to see and do; a weekend was surely not enough. But hey! I’m proud to say that I got to visit Jeju.
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