I spent a number of days travelling solo on Jeju Island in South Korea. I rented a automotive, explored the seashores, visited temples, ate some nice meals and usually simply had a beautiful time doing precisely as I happy. Right here’s what you possibly can anticipate if you wish to do the identical…
It was December, I used to be street tripping the coast of Jeju Island in my rented KIA Morning. The sat nav beeped manically to alert me to each upcoming velocity bump, my abdomen was filled with cake on cake, and I used to be pumped to climb Mount Hallasan the subsequent day. As the best spot on Jeju and a UNESCO web site, it was the second purpose for my journey.
The primary, was that I’d wished to drive all the best way round an island. I’ve all the time beloved the sensation of being on the sting of the world. Understanding that once I stand on that shoreline to look out, all there’s for miles and miles is sea till my eyes metaphorically meet with another person looking, on one other coast, far, far-off.
And so, after researching how I’d spend my week in South Korea, I made a decision to dedicate half of it to driving round Jeju Island, off the nation’s south coast. The concept that I might full the round drive in a number of days happy my want for a way of completion. At simply 45 miles east to west and 25 miles north to south it could be a mini journey not one in all my many journey pals had completed.
I deliberate to climb Mount Hallasan, chill out on the seashores, and indulge within the underrated, as then unknown Korean delicacies.
Seems, I’d fail on all accounts.
Driving round Jeju Island
I wasn’t allowed to select the automotive up a minute earlier than my booked time. Cue me sat at AJ Automobiles, with the automotive simply metres in entrance of me, and the keys behind the counter till lifeless on 12. After months of flying out and in of giant airports, I hadn’t counted for the mere minutes it’d take me to exit Jeju Worldwide Airport and be able to drive.
No downside, I might examine the map. Areas on Jeju Island are mapped by cellphone quantity – it’s the one method you possibly can programme them within the Korean sat nav. Until, in fact, you possibly can converse, write and perceive Korean when you’re driving alongside.
“Do you perceive find out how to use it,” requested the involved attendant as I fiddled with the sat nav as soon as I used to be lastly within the automotive.
I didn’t, however I used to be desperate to set off, having embarrassed myself spending at the least 10 minutes making an attempt to start out the automotive earlier than I known as them over to indicate me what turned out to be a easy ‘begin’ button.
I informed myself I’d work the sat nav out later. ‘Later’ turned out to be day 3 of my four-day journey.
Google Maps doesn’t work in South Korea you see. They haven’t granted them their map information and so you employ ‘Naver’ – which I hadn’t obtained together with strolling the streets of Seoul, by no means thoughts driving the roads of Jeju.
However, with a tough route plotted on the map, some cellphone numbers written out, I used to be able to go.
READ MORE: My Full Information to Street Tripping on Jeju Island is right here
Gwakji Seashore and Aewol
My first cease was Gwakji Seashore. God it felt good to be by the ocean and out within the open after 4 days in Seoul. The foaming waves lapped on the black stones that I used to be at present stepping over. I ran alongside the sand, shocking myself with the sudden enhance of vitality the solar and the seashore introduced me.
After Seoul public transport, the liberty of my very own automotive was invigorating.
I left for the small fishing village of Aewol. Parking up within the tiny automotive park I handed over a number of South Korean Gained to a girl who could or could not have been an official parking steward. The very fact I didn’t pay for parking anyplace else on the island might recommend the latter.
Aewol Seashore space was cafe after cafe. A sheltered cove within the centre of the village had a string of octopus carcasses drying out within the solar, whereas children paddled close by. Korean day trippers wandered the coastal path whereas all I might consider was how hungry I used to be, having skipped breakfast.
Following the upper view, as I had nothing else to information my method, I ended up on the well-known Montsant Cafe – run by Okay-pop star G-Dragon (GD). This was my launchpad into the sturdy cafe tradition of Jeju Island. I sat out the entrance with cake, whereas Korean fashionistas placed on a present for me, and all their Instagram followers too.
I had quite a bit to cowl in my 4 days, and if all of the villages had been as scenic and cute as this, quite a bit to see, too.
Driving in Jeju
The most effective factor about driving round an island is you can’t actually go mistaken. You simply comply with that coast. There’s the enjoyment of exploring a brand new charming little street if you see it, and the enjoyable of making an attempt to get again out of it once more too.
Driving on Jeju is gradual. There’s one street that goes 70km/h however most are 50 and the indicators make you decelerate to 30 about half a mile earlier than a roundabout. That’s 30km/h not mph.
I felt secure.
I stayed on the Olleyo Resort that night time for lower than £20, full with a shower in my room overlooking the gardens. It was right here that I managed one in all my few correct meals of the Jeju journey, Heuk Dwaeji Gui (black pork BBQ) – with all the perimeters as historically served in South Korea.
I bathed and went to mattress. Tomorrow was for Mount Hallasan, and I wished to be rested.
READ MORE: The Greatest Locations to Keep on Jeju Island
I woke as much as rain.
Mount Hallasan is a dormant crater proper within the centre of Jeju island, with a lake on prime. It’s a UNESCO World Pure Heritage Website and a Biosphere Reserve, surrounded by one other 368 volcanoes, and apparently it’s an unimaginable sight.
I say ‘apparently’ as a result of I didn’t really make it up there.
I might cite many excuses, all legitimate: it was raining, I hadn’t correctly ready, I’d be alone, I didn’t have the appropriate tools, would there even be a view on this climate?
Primarily, one thing simply didn’t really feel proper, and I selected to hearken to my intestine feeling.
As a substitute, I consoled myself with a misty view of Mount Hallasan from the 360 diploma window of the 38-metre commentary tower on the Yeomiji Botanical Backyard.
I explored the spectacular Cheonjeyeon Waterfalls as a substitute – three totally different waterfalls, each larger and higher than the final.
The epic bridge led over to the Jungnum Advanced – a vacationer space full of museums on every thing from teddy bears to Okay-pop to a kind of Consider it or Not Museums. It was full of the novelty issue I’d come to study the common Korean loves a lot.
I drove again to the coast, seeking some lunch. I tried to get the Korean favorite of abalone and porridge – sea snails. I wasn’t totally dedicated to my order within the first place, and when two specialist eating places informed me that they had none left, I used to be relieved to surrender. Tangerine and carrot cake it was then. Tangerines are in season in Jeju in December, you possibly can’t fail to overlook the fields of them rising from the roadside.
That night time I used to be staying in Seogwipo, the second metropolis on the island after Jeju Metropolis.
Dwelling to the Chilsimni Meals Avenue, I used to be excited to get caught into some native meals. Past a bibimbap I used to be stumped on what to order, nonetheless. I’d achieved the Korean hen and chips in Seoul, and seeing as I used to be on the seashore, seafood appeared proper.
As I wandered I noticed a woman come out of a restaurant with a two pronger grabber in hand. She stabbed with precision on the enormous tank of reside eel outdoors. I finished in my tracks as she held it up victorious – eel nonetheless squirming – able to take inside for her hungry prospects.
Recent, however not for me.
The Haenyeo ladies
The following day I used to be up and out prepared for the japanese level of my anti-clockwise Jeju street journey. This was the place I’d discover among the most iconic locals on all of Jeju: the Haenyeo ladies divers.
Each day the Haenyeo ladies divers dive for mollusks, seaweed, and different sea life from the ocean. The ladies are usually 60+ and dive with out tanks to reap the marine delicacies from under.
One of the widespread spots for it’s across the Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, aka Dawn Peak. A 182-metre excessive tuff cone, with a bowl like crater. One other iconic factor to do on Jeju, however one other factor I didn’t – this time it was closed as a result of excessive winds.
I stayed close by although, with a view from my flooring to ceiling window, from my mattress. With all of the rain outdoors it appeared the proper approach to see it.
Street journey spherical Jeju Island
The following morning the rain had cleared, so I headed for the seashores on the north coast. Cake for breakfast once more, because the cake store was the one place open.
Cruising that unimaginable shoreline round Woljeongri Seashore I simply felt so free. It was December: the waves had been excessive, the skies dramatic and I knew we had been feeling the calm after the storm, and earlier than the subsequent one. I beloved the drama, secure from the heat of my automotive.
There was one final name I wished to make, to the Bukchon Dol Hareubang Park. Dol Hareubangs are a robust function and power in Jeju, as you’ll see across the island. The statues are recognized for his or her good luck and Koreans place them close to graves to calm the spirits.
I wandered round, took a number of pics, and marvelled at one more world I knew nothing about.
Jeju Island had been a journey. One I’d admittedly gone into with religion and minimal planning, however regardless of how a lot planning you do, you possibly can’t management the climate.
4 days in Jeju solo
Again within the automotive to the airport, I believed concerning the sights I’d seen over the past 4 days in Jeju. I hadn’t seen a western vacationer, and barely spoke to anybody. The street journey had been reflective, quiet but simply what I wanted as a relaxed journey away from regular life. I’ll not have eaten reside eel, or climbed Hallasan, and even the Dawn Peak, however I’d had my very own journey unmarred by the affect of these earlier than me, on my phrases, and eaten some rattling tremendous muffins (for breakfast and dinner) alongside the best way.