And it’s off to Jeju! After a solid day and a half in Busan, we packed our bags, headed to the airport, and promptly sat around waiting because our flight to Jeju was delayed an hour and a half. That’s ok though. It gave us time to drive the multitude of beverages we had collected but had not yet had a chance to drink.
F rom the top: orange juice, water, Sprite with mint (pretty refreshing), milk soda (gross), mango coconut juice (Andrew liked it).
After a short flight to Jeju Island (the Hawaii of Korea as they say), we embarked on another new adventure: driving a car in Korea. Actually, Andrew drove a car in Korea. I sat in the passenger seat and laughed at the overly chatty GPS.
Fun story about Korean GPS systems. All the writing is in Korean. You can make it talk to you in English, but the words are all in Korean. This is difficult when you are trying to find your Airbnb. This is even more difficult when your Airbnb doesn’t have an exact address. We went through a few moments of mild panic until a saintly car rental guy came over and through some internet wizardry, magically located our Airbnb to within 1/4 mile of the actual place.
More fun stories about Korean GPS systems. Those things know EVERYTHING. They know when you are about to pass a red light camera. They know when you are about to pass a speed camera. They basically yell at you so you don’t get a ticket at those cameras. They even know where the speed bumps are. But the best part is that locations can be found via phone numbers. And every major attraction has a phone number associated with it. This made our lives infinitely easier. Also, we didn’t end up lost in the land of insane museums and ridiculous attractions.
Were those fun stories? No?
So…anyways. After partially figuring out how the GPS worked, we drove down toward the southern part of the island. Jeju has two main cities, Jeju City and Seogwipo. We flew into Jeju City on the northern part of the island, but our Airbnb is in the quieter, southern area of Seogwipo.
After about a 45 minute drive (no speeding, per the GPS), we were starving. We stopped in a seemingly innocuous restaurant which turned out to be super busy. We got some gogi-guksu (savory pork noodle soup) which is popular Jeju island dish. It was a good filling meal.
We were a little early for checking in, so we decided to kill some time. At this point we didn’t really know how to use our GPS so we didn’t want to stray too far. I had read that the Teddy Bear Museum (I’m not kidding when I say Jeju is the land of museums) was actually a pretty fun time, so we stopped in.
It was hilarious. They had recreated famous moments in history with giant teddy bear dioramas and made famous works of art with teddy bear replacements. It was great for photo-ops and Koreans love photo-ops.
By the time we finished there, we were able to check into our Airbnb (which was awesome!) and have just enough time to check out a few sites before it got too late. Our first stop were the Jusangjeolli Cliffs. The Jusangjeolli Cliffs are they crazy hexagonal rock formations that were created by volcanic eruptions.
We also saw our first of many dol hareubang which are these funny lava stone statues all over Jeju Island. No one is really sure why they look the way they do, but they are everywhere and make me chuckle.
It was starting to get late, but luckily one of the waterfall parks was open until past sunset, so we decided to head there while we still could. We made it to the Cheonjiyeon Falls just before sunset. It was a quick and pleasant walk to the falls which were beautiful (and crowded).
After the falls it was getting late so we decided to get some dinner. We drove around for a while until we stumbled upon a little restaurant that looked fairly busy. After we sat down, we ordered an enormous amount of food which at this point has just become a pattern for us.
Jeju is most famous for two things: black pork and fish. So naturally we got both. Black pork did not taste any different to me than regular pork bellies, but the fish was impressive.
We got some fresh seafood hot pot that had at least half a dozen different kinds of seafood in it.
We then got a hot pot of abalone rice which we think we got for free for being tourists. Abalone is a fish that tastes pretty earthy. It sort of reminded me of eating mushrooms, but a little more fishy.
We finished off our first day in Jeju having survived our first experience driving in Korea and full of not-our-first ridiculous feast. Our first day in Jeju was definitely memorable.
Day 5: Busan – Beomeosa Temple, Taejongdae, Jagalchi Fish Market
Day 4: Busan – Haedong Yongung Temple
Day 3: Seoul – Korean War Memorial, Itaewon, Seoul Tower, Myeongdong
Day 2: Seoul – Gyeonbokgung Palace, Jongmyo Shrine, Changdeokgung-Palace
Day 1: DC to Seoul