Our Korean “Vacation” on Jeju Island

by Sharon -- May 27, 2010

For the past 10 days, Jason and I have called a little island named “Jeju” our home.  Jeju Island is located directly south of South Korea and is a very popular vacation and Honeymoon spot for Koreans (South Koreans, to be exact, since Northerners aren’t allowed out of their own country.  Sounds like a happy place, doesn’t it?).  In fact, Jeju Island is affectionately called the “Hawaii of Korea” due to the fact that it is somewhat comparable to Hawaii when it comes to scenery, leisure activities, and Honeymooners.  An interesting fact about Jeju Island is that its natives speak a completely different language than mainland Koreans.  Almost all Jeju natives, however, speak mainland Korean, so Koreans traveling to Jeju usually don’t have any communication problems.

An interesting thing happened on our way to Jeju.  We booked the cheapest ticket we could get, which ended up being a shared room with 212 people.  We thought ‘well it shouldn’t be that bad because we’ll have our own sleeping pads like last time’.  When we walked into our room however, we immediately regretted our decision to be frugal.  No sleeping pads, no blankets, just one big room with 150 people who are supposed to sleep on the nasty floor next to each other.  I swallowed my disgust and made myself think happy thoughts.  Unfortunately, older Korean people have way too much fun on ferries, which means that people who actually want to sleep are out of luck.  The older Koreans were partying until the wee hours of the night, drinking tons of alcohol while being extremely loud and annoying.  I couldn’t fall asleep even though I was using industrial strength earplugs.  I even bought a few beers in attempts to make myself pass out while Jason was sound asleep.

Eventually, hours later, I fell asleep.  At about 3am, I am woken by the loudest, most obnoxious snoring Korean man in the room; he had made his way right next to me.  My angry shuffling around in bed (floor) wakes Jason up, and he switches places with me.  I have a wonderful boyfriend.

When we ate our first meal on Jeju Island, we ran into a young married couple who were on the same ferry we took.  We had exchanged a few friendly words to each other but parted ways once we arrived on the island.  This extremely nice couple ended up inviting us over that night for drinks and tons of food for their 1st wedding anniversary “party” (which was just the four of us).  They also let us stay in their hotel suite for free a few days later on another part of the island.  The four of us definitely won the Double Dating couple Award on Jeju Island that week.

Jeju Island is quite the scenic place, especially after living in Seoul for 2 months.  The Island is most notable for its tangerine-like oranges, its walls made of stone, and the volcano that erupted and created the island called Mt. Halla.  The oranges here can be bought at one of the hundreds of orange stands located pretty much everywhere.

The stone walls here are somewhat of a fascination for me for two reasons: they were built with real lava stones that don’t fit together, so there are many holes in the wall that are perfect for Jeju Island because it gets really windy here.  With the holes in the wall, the wind can pass through the holes without knocking the wall over.  BUT that’s the weird thing- they look like I can kick them over with a weak karate kick.  There’s no glue holding the rocks together and they look like they would fall over if a baby blew at it.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to experiment.  I would have felt too guilty having to tell the nice Korean people that I knocked over their wall because it looked weak.

Mt. Halla is a volcano that once erupted and created Jeju Island with its cooled lava.  We ended up hiking Mt. Halla (all 11 miles of it).  The weather was wonderful until we passed into the clouds where the weather turned absolutely miserable.  I estimated that there were 60 mph winds towards the top of the mountain, the same winds that claimed Jason’s A’s hat (RIP).  It was so cloudy, windy and rainy that there was no visibility at the top.  Unfortunately, the type of shoes that I have weren’t exactly hiking shoes, so needless to say my legs and feet were in so much pain.  The next few days were spent walking like I just had a colonoscopy.

Random Thought of the Day: What is wrong with North Korea?

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3 Responses to “Our Korean “Vacation” on Jeju Island”

  1. Love it!!! Im sorry to hear about Jason’s hat, but glad to hear about your ferry adventure! how long did it take to get over there? When did you meet up with your parents?

  2. Geez, that sleeping arrangement on the ferry looks like hell! It’s nice that the first night of discomfort paid off with you meeting some awesome people! It really is a shame that North Koreans don’t have the basic freedom to leave their own country. They should all simultaneously walk out of there and leave the government with nobody to tax. But I won’t get political here ;)

  3. Holly: the ferry ride was overnight, so about 9-10 hours. We met up with them the day that we got there!

    Eli: Thanks for the comment! You have no idea how packed it got towards the end of the night. The picture that we used was in the beginning when it was still somewhat empty. By late night, there was hardly any space in between people. And about North Korea, it is sad, you’re right. The worse part is that they don’t even know what it’s like outside of their country. They don’t get any outside media so they have no idea…

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