Monday, 18 May 2009

Jeju Island, South Korea

In yesterday's Sunday Times, I saw a write-up of Jeju Island, South Korea. I recalled this beautiful island which I visited a few years ago. Once we landed in Incheon International Airport, we immediately took the domestic flight to Gimpo Airport, Jeju Island, to begin our tour of South Korea. Jeju Island 濟州島 is also known as the Island of the Gods. When we reached, I was so excited and happy to see the red, yellow, orange toned trees along the streets, passing by colourful signboards and shops. It was Autumn (my favourite season, not too hot, not too cold). We were immediately scuttered off to the first stop, which was the Teddy Bear Musuem. To be frank, I am not crazy over teddy bears, and I preferred sceneries to musuems. The musuem houses a huge collection of teddy bears with mock ups of celebrities or places. In the picture above, it was a replica of Jeju's coastline with its famous Haenyeo female divers (teddy bears) as well as the "Beatles".
One of the attractions in Jeju Island is the Columnar Joints (called Jusangjeolli) in Jungmun Daepo Coast. The Jusangjeolli are stone pillars piled up along the coast. The Jusangjeolli was formed when the lava from Mt.Hallasan erupted into the sea of Jungmun.
The natural formation of the rock pillars were shaped like cubes or hexagons of various sizes and almost seemed as if they were the works of stonemasons. They are called 'Jisatgae Rocks'. The waves of the high tides crashing into the side of the cliff was a really breathtaking view of the ocean surrounding the pillars. See the waters were all in rich blue-green hues?
Along the way, we saw many stone monuments and palm trees. All over the island, you could see "Dol hareubangs", which are large mushroom-like statues (top left picture). They are considered to be gods offering both protection and fertility and were placed outside of gates for protection against demons travelling between realities. Peddlars filled the place selling bright juicy looking oranges and drinks, and some selling "live" seafood, which you could buy and eat on the spot, overlooking the coastline. I dared not try.
Another place we visited was Seongsan Sunrise Peak, which was at the eastern tip of Jeju Island. It is one of the best places to see sunrise in Korea. The stone mountain, cliffs and jagged rocks stick out like teeth along the crater's perimeter (top right photo, if you could see how tiny the people were, it showed a magnificant enormous panoramic view of the cliff). It was so cool and breezy sitting/lying on the grass facing the hills and ocean. Beneath the peak, was the fishing port of Seopjikoji. It was really beautiful and surreal.Nearby was the filming site of Korean's earlier popular drama, All In, starring Song Hye Kyo and Lee Byung Hun. The attraction of visiting South Korea was the rising popularity of Korean dramas then, although I have not watched a single K drama at that time. My companions were the crazed fans. While we were there, they were reconstructing the film's church and convent, as the original building suffered severe damages during a hurricane and the site was wiped out. Posters and signboards of the drama and the stars surrounded the area.
At that time, there was no Daejanguem 大长今 yet, so we were brought to see Seongeup Folklore Village. The village contains loads of thatched roof houses with basalt and mortar walls. Villagers still live in these houses, although they have modernised them for modern living. They are made of black lava rock with stone statues. The local black-haired pigs and tongsi (pig sty / bathroom) are very well known. The pigs are supposedly very nutritious and famous for their great tasting meat.
Talking about food, every meal in South Korea was a delight. For each meal, there was sure to have very delicious BBQ meat (pork belly or chicken) which you eat with plain rice or wrapped in lettuce leaves. Accompanying the BBQ meat, were many small dishes like kimchi, different types of stir fried or marinated veggies, ikan bilis, seaweed etc.. Each place served slightly different side dishes. I like the Korean spicy rice cakes, Tteokbokki, which was easily found on the streets or restaurants. Another must-try was of course their famous Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup. Sticky rice was wrapped inside the chicken. Aiyoh, hungry now ....


  1. Jeju used to be an exile island of Korea.. If exile to such a place also not bad... :p

  2. HB, you can go and be exiled there, you wont be bored. The Gods of fertility will protect you too. Hiak hiak... :P


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...