Jeju Adventures: Days One and Two

Four days of vacation on an island is exactly what Tara and I needed recently, so thank goodness we had a week off to take it.  The good people at WinK loaded us up on a bus Friday night, and we overnighted it down to Mokpo.  The bus ride was awful and uncomfortable, and ended with an abortive attempt to sleep a few hours in a Jimjibang (a kind of sauna/bath house) before catching a scheduled ferry at eight thirty in the morning.  But everything after that was delightful!  We got to explore the natural beauty of Jeju island, and go on a lot of adventures that we, two ordinary mortals, would probably not have been able to organize on our own.

That’s the benefit of doing your vacations with a tour group: rigid time tables and a bus can help combat laziness and cover a lot of ground.  It’s a vacation optimizer!  It was also a truly excellent experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  Well, maybe a plane ticket in lieu of that initial bus ride…

The Mokpo ferry took a few hours, then we finally arrived at Jeju island on Saturday, in the early afternoon.  A waiting bus took us to our first destination, the famous Loveland theme park (more about that excursion here), and then to our hotel on Hamdeok beach.  A few hours to settle in, and soon we were out for a night of pork barbecue and getting to know each other by the sea.  Hamdeok is a beautiful beach, with picturesque bridges, clear shallow water, and tide pools for the naturalist in all of us.  People were setting off fireworks in the night, and everyone was having a good time.

Day two was a whirlwind rush of exciting stops and experiences.  We went first to Seong San Il Chul Bong (Crater Mountain Sunrise Peak), a beautiful hike to the collapsed peak of an old volcano.  From there we took a ferry to Udo, or “Cow Island,” a small satellite to Jeju, and rode bikes around the perimeter.  We had three hours, enough time to circle the island and stop for some amazing food.  Udo had a little more rain than we expected going in, but it was still the highlight of our second day on vacation.

Back on Jeju proper, we paid a quick visit to a hedge maze (not an especially Korean hedge maze, just a fun diversion I suppose) before our last major event of the day: the Manjangul lava tubes.  We walked the length of a spectacular cave, admiring different geological forms and breathing a sigh of relief from the considerable heat and humidity above ground.

Back at Hamdeok for the night, Tara and I went out to eat at “Herb Burger,” a restaurant noted for serving enormous hamburgers that are meant to be shared by up to four people.  We got the smaller “couple’s burger,” and I have to say it was really more of a pork sandwich.  But it was a satisfactory end to a perfect day, by any means.  Here’s some pictures to show just how much fun we had!

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