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!