Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die tomorrow.

James Dean

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Jeju-Do - Day 1

When I found out that I had a 6 day holiday in May I thought to myself - what should I do? I knew that I didn't want to stay in Daejeon and briefly thought about going to another country when it hit me - Jeju Island. Then when I saw that Discover Korea was offering a trip it seemed like destiny.
Jeju Island is a small island off the southern coast of Korea. It is nicknamed the Hawaii of Asia and comes complete with palm trees, beaches and tangerines. It is one of those places that everyone says you must see before you leave Korea.
I arrived at Jeju Internation Airport after a quick 1 hour flight. I hopped into a taxi with 2 other trip members and with the guidance of our tour leader, William, we made our way to the hotel. There was already a group waiting there who had arrived earlier in the day and they were about to head out to the island of Marado. Not wanting to miss out I decided to join them. I put my luggage in the hotel, made some quick introductions, hopped in the van and we were off. When we arrived at the pier we discovered that it would be an hour until the next boat, what to do, what to do? We drove over to an area where you could walk down to the beach and see caves that had been built by the Japanese.

Some of these caves were quite large and at one time had been used to hide Japanese guns, weapons and other secrets. Now they sat empty but we entered the first one hoping to find some forgotten treasure. Sadly all we found was an unbelievable stench - reminiscent of the bathrooms in a subway station in Toronto. We made a hasty retreat and we content to stand on the beach and take pictures instead.

Finally it was time to board the ferry to Marado and we piled on the boat with hundreds of Korean tourists. Being the aquaphile that I am I made a beeline for the top deck while the rest of my group stayed in the warmth below. It was an easy 1/2 hour journey and before long we were there.

Marado Island is a small island that seemed built for tourists. Along the side of it were giant cliffs that reminded me of the coast of Ireland. Along the top were ajummas and ajosshis waiting to rent you golf carts to ride on around the island. The island itself is fairly small and could easily be walked around in less than an hour. There was a small village with some restaurants selling their famous black noodles and some small shops. A few in the group wandered away to explore the island while the rest grabbed some beer and snacks and sat out in a sunny field relaxing. After the hectic pace of the morning it was nice to sit and enjoy the sunshine and each others company. After an hour of relaxing we got back on the boat and headed back to the mainland.

From there we made our way back to the hotel where we could watch the sunset from the beach. The hotel looked like a mini resort right out of Hawaii. It came complete with a beautiful pool surrounded by palm trees and cheesy resort music coming out of the speakers . Sadly it was too early in the season for the pool to have any water in it but you could imagine what it would be like in the summer, sipping a cocktail and watching the palm trees sway.

At the hotel we had a delicious meal of bbq pork and then finished the night with a campfire on the beach. We all headed to bed exhausted but happy with the day that we had and eager for tomorrow's adventures.