Monday, March 27, 2017

Spring in South Korea 2017 - Part 5 Jeju

Our flight from Seoul to Jeju took about an hour. It was a very short flight, even shorter than Jakarta to Bali! The sky was clear and the flight was smooth. I had booked Ramada Encore Jeju Yeon-dong  right by the airport for our 2 nights stay in Jeju through Agoda.

We lined up for a taxi to get to the hotel and we had the most unfriendly taxi driver in Korea we'd met. Maybe he was complaining that our trip was too short? Or....? Well he didn't speak any English so he was stuck with us and took us to the hotel. 

The hotel was a standard Ramada. Clean and with friendly staff. We had a room with 2 single beds and they allow kids stay for free as long as they stay on existing beds. 

At the time of check in at the hotel, I asked the front desk about ways to go to Seongsan Ilchulbong or also called the Sunrise Peak. Thus, in the morning we already knew how to get there. We walked around looking for breakfast, but we couldn't find any that was already open except Ediya Coffee. So we had okay breakfast with so-so coffee. I must say that in Korea, Google maps and Foursquare din't work very well. They seemed to not have enough nor accurate information. Only the public transportation navigation system worked on Google Maps. No driving navigation nor walking navigation. I found this very strange considering that it worked so well in the neighbouring country.

Miss Kiki was already feeling better that day, so I was quite relieved.

First, we needed to get to Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal. We originally were going to ride the bus there, but since we just missed one and didn't want to wait too long, we took a taxi instead. Just like in Jakarta, it seemed like we could catch a taxi anywhere on the street. Or in the middle of the street for that matter. Haha. The difference is that the taxi drivers there don't expect tips as it is not in their culture. So most taxi drivers had loads of coins on had for change.

From the terminal, we had two bus route options. One goes along the coast, and the other one goes along the mountain area. The bus ride took about 2 hours with many stops in between. We finally arrived at Seongsan Ilchulbong Entrance bus stop and got off. I was very confused. I could see the peak at a distance and no direct path towards it were visible. Google maps didn't give me any walking navigations but I managed to go through the back streets and reached the actual entrance.

I originally decided to go to Jeju because supposedly it would be the first part of Korea to get spring blossoms. I was hoping to catch a little bit of the cherry blossoms and other flowers famous in Jeju like canola, forsythia, and azalea. Well we saw some canola bushes on the way but not as many as I'd imagined. The forsythias were not in bloom yet but we saw some Camellias too.

We paid for our entrance tickets to Seongsan Ilchulbong, I can't remember how much it was. I know for sure it wasn't expensive. The air was fresh and the view was nice. We stopped for some pictures and followed the path.

The beginning of the path was stone paved and a rather gentle incline. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! The view was very nice, we could see the peak at the front, and when we turned around we could see the water behind us.

The second part of the path were made of smoother stones, with small steps every few metres. Not as easy, but quite okay. The sceneries also changed, they had evergreens planted along the path.

There was a rest area at the end of the second part and the view was beautiful! We made a stop for snacks, drinks, and pictures.

The next part of the path were steep stone stairs, it was quite difficult especially for my mom. Nevertheless, with several stops along the way, we made it! The pain I had started to feel the day before had gotten worse by then, so I was gimpy all the way up. Haha!

The top was actually anticlimactic for me. The view wasn't any better than the rest area. Sure, we got to see the crater area, but at that time it was brown and dry unlike the nice blue thing we always see in the pictures.

We headed back down after that...

"Mom, can you give me some coins so I can see with this?" she asked pointing at the binoculars. I asked her how much. "I don't know just give me whatever you have." I guess she really wanted to do it. We tried 50 and 100 won coins at first but it only took 500 won coins. She was very happy.

We were so hungry by the time we got to the bottom, we decided to eat in the area. We had no idea which restaurants are good, they all seemed to be selling seafood and they were all empty. We decided on one but the food was nothing spectacular.

This was in front of the restaurant.
I had promised Miss Kiki that we'd go to a maze in Jeju. Well it turned out that there were no easy and fast access to get there by bus. I almost told her that we couldn't go but my mom felt bad for her so she offered to take a taxi to the maze. It wasn't too expensive in the end, and we all had fun at the maze.

The objective was not only to find a way out, but also collect 6 different stamps from different spots. At first, we got out of there almost right away after collecting 2 stamps. We got lucky with our choices, I guess. Then without hesitation Miss Kiki suggested to go in again (and went in without waiting for our answer) to collect the rest of the stamp. She said that she had forgotten that the objective was to collect stamps because she played too much games and was too focused on getting out quickly. Good observation!

It was around 4 pm when we were done at the maze, we decided to take a taxi back to the hotel. The maze staff called a taxi for us. It was very nice of them to do so even though we had to communicate through a translation app. :D

For dinner that evening we wanted to try the black pork BBQ. The meat was not actually black, but the pig was. It's a specific breed of pig and a Jeju specialty. We decided on a restaurant and wanted to take a taxi there. I asked the hotel front desk staff to call a taxi for us but he said it would be better to cross the street and catch a taxi on that side. Following is advice, we crossed the street and tried to catch a taxi. Many passed, none stopped. Not sure why. There were two young police officers there who felt sorry for us they told us a taxi was coming shortly, because there was a guy who had left is bag in a taxi and the taxi was coming around. So we waited for a while.... The taxi mentioned finally arrived, and the guy who was waiting for the bag actually went in the taxi and went off. So much for that! Luckily, not long after, we found a taxi and off we went to the restaurant.

While waiting for a taxi, we saw this tree with big flowers blooming on them. Later on we found out that it was a magnolia tree. Very pretty!

The restaurant we went to was this one. No one there spoke english but we just ordered what I think she tried saying in Japanese were the two most popular items there. The pork was really good, but I honestly couldn't tell the difference between the black pork and the regular pork. In my opinion, the pork in Korea are generally better than the ones we have in Indonesia.

The next morning, we only had time to get a quick breakfast so we went to Paris Baguette, a bakery just around the corner from the hotel. We found out about it the day before when we were driving back from the maze. We saw a lot of Paris Baguette in Seoul so I thought it would be worth a try. I thought that their pastries were good, especially the ones with sausage because they used good sausage. Coffee was standard, same as the others. They had a cute cup though.

The hotel ordered a taxi for us to get to the airport. Jeju airport was relatively small but it had an entertaining interactive screen. Miss Kiki had some fun before we had to proceed.

Jeju is also famous for their oranges
So long, Jeju! Stay tuned for the next part!