Jejudo is Korea’s largest island, famous both as holiday and honeymoon island. The island has been compared to Hawaii, Disneyland, and even paradise. While I admit the island is most striking because of its volcanic landscape and beautiful sandy beaches, my trip, which included biking, camping, and packaged ramen, was less than idyllic.
For my one-week Chuseok holiday (barely a month since my arrival in Korea), I joined my friend Warren’s Jeju tour.
A group of 60 or so participants, we were to travel down south from Seoul via bus, then boat to Jejudo. Once arrived, we would follow highway 1132, which circulates the island, and bike the entire 225 km (140 miles) in six days. I did a little quick math and saw that we would be biking roughly 60 km (40 miles) a day, which, didn’t sound too terrible, so… I went.
Unfortunately, being so clueless about distance has its setback. I discovered, with the island’s up-and-down volcanic landscapes and blustery wind, I was pedaling but barely moving. My muscles were sore and my butt hurt.
Lodging: Tents / Transportation: Bicycles / Food: Ramen / Facilities: Public Bathroom
Now, I can be tough and, in my own humble opinion, put up with a lot. But it is a trifle too much to not shower for 6 days! What have I signed myself up for?!
Upon arrival (already nighttime), we biked to our first camping site — a forest ground by the beach. Somehow, I did not register that “camping” requires me to set up my own tent.
Apparently I suffered from both bad math skills and extreme absentmindedness.
The first night was marked by bad sleep. The ground was hard and strewn with pebbles. Throughout the night, wind blew and rain splattered, I was quite concerned whether or not our little tent would hold.
Meals consisted of anything that could be boiled — instant noodles, packaged curry, etc. My face, devoid of any makeup (no eyeliner!), was a clear indication of my circumstances.
Biking was not an easy task, but Jejudo’s spectacular volcanic landscapes proved most rewarding. It was absolutely breathtaking when I turned a corner and was welcomed by the expansive ocean.
I attempted my first scuba diving and climbed Mt. Hallasan. The mountain (1950 m) is South Korea’s highest mountain and a special national park with varied ecological zones. Our planned sunrise hike was dampened, literally, by the rain.
Once I gave up biking… things brightened. I biked for four days, and abandoned my bike on the fifth. It felt wonderful! And if I could be absolutely truthful, it was the best decision I ever made.
Finally, I could enjoy my vacation and do what tourists do. Some fun museums worthy of visiting include Trick Art Museum (2-D images painted to create 3-D effect, great photo op) and Teddy Bear Museum (famous for its collection of teddy bear, most famous being the LV Teddy).
I would also strongly recommend taking a ferry to nearby Udo (cow-island). With glaringly white coral-sand beach and dramatic black-lava rocks, my mood was heightened by an actual-non-ramen meal. Indeed, shots of soju paired smoothly with sashimi.