Jeju-do (also spelled Chejudo) is Korea's largest Island, located well south of the western side of the peninsula. The whole island is one gigantic volcano, dormant since 1007 CE, with one main cone / crater and over 350 smaller ones. Some 20 beaches encircle Jeju-do. The main island is 1,810 square kilometers, half of which is still naturally forested. Green tea and semi-tropical fruits are widely grown.
I know this guys it tall, and I seem to be grabbing him in an inappropriate display of affection.... but he's not my new boyfriend. His personality was stone cold. (yes it IS funny) Ok, he's one of many Tolharubang Statues on the island. No one knows what they represent, people only guess it was a god or something. Because people who came to the island found them there. Interesting.
Look, Zach found a drinking buddy.
Back in May, Zach took a new teaching job on this beautiful island & invited me out. At the end of June, I flew out for 3 days & it was a wonderful vacation!!! He lives on the southern part, a beautiful area called Seogwipo. There are less than 200 foreign teachers on the island, so I told him I'd help him plunge into the social scene and meet new people. So we made friends with statues... and some of the coolest people I've met the entire year I've been here!
There was an international surfing competition on a beach near his house, so we went to check it out and there was a big group of people sitting around drinking beer and playing volley ball. They were warm & welcoming and we stayed with them for a bit. They'd camped out the night before and I wish SO badly we'd met them for that! Zach played with his new friends on the beach while I went swimming in the ocean. For those of you who don't know..... I looooove the Ocean.
I also love waterfalls. Jeongbang falls is "the only waterfall in Asia that falls directly into the sea." And it was a short walk from Zach's apartment. The water was chilly, but I couldn't help but to dive in - in all my clothes. SO invigorating. It felt incredible even after I was out of the water. Zach's a chicken, more into rock-climbing and stuff that requires physical stamina... so I just swam and giggled by myself!
Also, we picked up some oranges at a stand near the falls. Jeju-do is called the "Island of Love and Oranges". These oranges, grown on the southern slopes of Hallasan, were absolutely savory! Marta, I brought one back for you, but haven't seen you in weeks. So I had to eat it. Yummy! I brought you back some of the love too, but I'll hold onto that til I see you again.
"Every Korean feels he should visit Jeju-do at least once in his life and most do for their honeymoon." I saw a bunch of honeymooners out and about that weekend; surprisingly, none sportin' the 'couple shirts'.
Jeju-do was once listed by Newsweek magazine as one of the world's top ten undiscovered paradises. "do" is the Korean for island.
Jeju-shi means Jeju city and it is the main city on Jeju-do. That's where Zach and I went to meet the foreign teachers at night. The only real Western bar on the island - Blue Agave. Everyone seemed to know eachother and everyone seemed familiar with a guitar. The 3 man band, who plays there every weekend, was remarkable: 3 teachers who've been friends for years and travel together. I got the ladies to take off their shoes and dance the night away. I'm meeting them up in Seoul next weekend for a photography exhibit, in which 2 of the girls have photos in.
A bunch of the teachers have invited me back to the island, and I'll be sure to visit because there's so much I've yet to see:
- Udo, or Cow Island, is to the east and can be reached by ferry. Some say it's more beautiful than Jeju.
- I'd like to actually look into a volcano pit.
- Goseong Dinosaur prints (though I don't believe in dinosaurs)
- And then there are the Manjang-gul caves, which we didn't have time to visit.
" you can pretend to be Indiana Jones and explore one of the longest lava tunnels in the world. Of course, there's no rolling boulder inside. What you'll find instead is a deep, damp cave that was created by molten lava from Hallasan years ago ."
* Many geological wonders have been working their way into my year & I'm putting together quite the photo album!*