This is all about my EPIK teaching adventures in Korea!
Jeju is a volcanic island and is one of the nine provinces of Korea. It’s located south of the mainland and is therefore warmer in climate than the rest of Korea.
Jejudo is sometimes referred to as “Samdado Island” meaning the “three many” referring to it’s abundance of wind, rocks and women. The wind blows heavily throughout the year and as a result, the past volcanic activity littered the island with many unusually shaped black rocks. The island is also known for it’s abundance of women. This goes back to the time when fishing was the primary means of income and many men were lost at sea. The women were left to carry out the work of fishing and diving for shellfish.
Scott and I took a flight from Busan to Jeju city. Prices during off season can be as low as $60 round fare. As this is summer vacation for just about the entire country, prices were around $160 round fare. We arrived in Jeju city and took an express bus to the south side of the island to Seogwipo. We stayed at the Jeju Backpackers Inn (which wasn’t the most glamorous place we’ve ever stayed in- bunk beds were a lovely bonus). As rustic as it was, the roof had an amazing view of the harbour, beside Cheonjiyeon waterfall.
Cheonjiyeon waterfall, meaning “God’s pond,” derives its name from the legend that the fairies serving the King of Heaven came down to the pond on stairs of clouds and bathed in the water. Although being a fairly large tourist attraction (with a ticket office before entering) the forest surrounding the falls is known for having subtropical and rare botany. The waterfall is 72ft tall with an artificial pond below it. There is a manmade dam further down the river controlling the depth of the pond. The clear and deep water of Cheonjiyeon Falls is renowned as a habitat for Mutae eels.
We also found this (not so) “secret” natural pool about a 50 minute walk from the waterfalls. We hiked up a mountain and through a residential area until we saw an inlet down the side of the mountain.
The Dolhareubang (돌하르방, literally “old grandfather stone statues”) are a symbol of the island and are dispersed in abundance around the island.
These are Bangsatap (방사탑). You can see them piled all around the island: at houses, beaches, and even tourist attractions. These small, round towers of rock were thought to ward off evil, protect the village, and bring prosperity to the people.
Hyeopjae Beach (협재해수욕장) and Geumneung Beach (금능해변) are a two minute walk through a narrow brick path under a canopy of palm trees. During high tide there is very little beach, which is when we were there. During low tide the sandbar between the beach and the island nearly connect.
Across the street from the beach is Hallim Park and part of the famous Lava Tube system. For a fee of ₩10,000 (about $10) a person, we got to see numerous “mini parks” and attractions within the 100,000 square meters. These included Jeju Stone and Bonsai Garden, Water Garden, Subtropical Botanic Garden, and the Hyeopjaegul and Ssangyonggul Caves.
Another special attraction is the boastful volcano, Hallasan (Mt. Halla), in the centre of the island. It is famous for its vast ecosystem of plants that results from the varying temperatures along the mountainside. Over 1,800 kinds of plants and 4,000 species of animals (3,300 species of insects) have been identified. We never hiked the mountain ourselves, however we did ride one of the local busses through Hallasan National Park and right along the side of the mountain.
This isn’t my picture, but this is a view from the top of Mt. Halla. Stunning.
Oh and one more thing I didn’t mention about Jeju is Loveland. Erotic statues, interactive sculptures and penis’ everywhere… Check out my next post about Loveland (Or in the words of the bus driver, “Love-uh… Land-uh”.