As I wrote in my last post, Celebrating the New Year on Jeju Island: part I, I spent four days with Adventure Korea in Jeju Island over my New Year’s vacation. On the third full day, after losing my voice from belting out too many songs in the noraebang the night before (namely “I Will Always Love You”) we ate breakfast at a cozy cafe called May Flower (5 월의 꽃).
This unique cafe requires you to bring your own food, but provides self-service coffee, tea and hot chocolate where you pay by donation. As I sipped a cup of strong coffee, far better than the instant packets of sugar that I sometimes drink at work, I felt like I was in the midst of a storybook. The patterns on the slightly lopsided walls and ceilings created a charming atmosphere.
Grandfather statues, famous symbols of Jeju usually sculpted from lava rock, are pictured munching on slices of pizza at the pizza place next door.
After breakfast, we attended a Chinese acrobatic performance at Jeju Magic World. From the start, I was hooked on the acrobats’ graceful movements and body contortions. I always thought I was flexible, but after seeing these Chinese children casually wrap their legs around their head, I felt like my limbs were as stiff as the plastic chair I was sitting on. After the acrobatic performance, five women drove motorbikes within a giant metal cage, looping upside-down in figure eights. I watched with my mouth open, sniffing traces of gasoline, eyes glued to the smoky cage thinking, “If one person makes a tiny mistake, they’ll all die.” Incredible.
Next, we visited the O’Sulloc Tea Farm, where some of the highest quality tea grows on Jeju Island. Elizabeth and I wandered through the expansive tea fields while everyone else shopped in the tea shop and browsed through the museum. The fields were calm, and the silence was heightened by a light snow fall. Like my trip to the Boseong green tea fields after staying at a farm last fall, I was enraptured by the beauty of the neat, even rows.
We ate fresh, pan-fried fish and spicy pork for lunch, and in the afternoon, we walked along a coastal trail on Mt. Songak, a crater overlooking the most southern island, ideal for some scenic shots of the rocky coast.
Everyone was curious about Loveland, an erotic sculpture park attracting newlyweds, tourists, and giggly middle-aged couples, displaying Korea’s naughty side. We trekked back to the bus and spent an hour posing with giant penises, jeweled vaginas, and sculptures of people having wild sex.
To celebrate the arrival of 2013, we drove into Jeju City for the night. After parting ways with some of the other group members, several of us ate black pork samgypsal (barbeque) for dinner, one of Jeju’s specialties. It was incredibly delicious, but after eating multiple cloves of garlic, I’m sure that my breath scared off the majority of people who approached me that night.
We discovered that our guide Youngmin’s birthday was during the trip, so we bought him a cake and embarrassed him by singing happy birthday.
Only a few hours remained before we would ring in the new year, so we sang in a noraebang for an hour before entering Jeju’s only nightclub, the Jeju Aroma Superdome. Upon arrival, we were ushered to a table. The club was huge, complete with a large stage and dance floor in the front. We drank some beer, nibbled on some fruit, and danced to K-pop and slow ballad songs that made me feel like I was at a junior high dance. Our group was solely comprised of women, and the ushers were certainly giving us lots of attention. Later, when I researched the club, I found that they offer booking services, where they’ll bring you to a table to meet other guys. Maybe they were trying to book us?
At midnight, the dome opened and snow floated inside. I tried to take a photo (see above) but I failed miserably. I was itching to get back on the dance floor, as the music sounded like we were in a Star Wars movie. We certainly rang in the new year with style.
We took a cab back to the resort, and the next morning I woke up with my mouth parched, reeking of garlic and cigarette smoke. I chugged water from a paper sleeve next to the water purifier, and at breakfast, I sipped some coffee with my Paris Baguette sandwich and Jeju tangerines. We gathered our belongings for the journey home, but stopped at a beach for a half an hour before going to the ferry terminal. The sun was shining, and I meandered along the pebbly beach, not wanting to go back to Seoul.
I walked around the ferry terminal, photographing the colorful shipping crates and eating kimbap before boarding the ferry.
On the bus ride to Seoul, I thought about how much I loved the ambiance of Jeju. Although I wasn’t able to hike Hallasan, the trip was well-organized, our guide was knowledgeable and kind, we participated in a variety of activities, but also had a sufficient amount of free time, and I met some great people who I plan on hanging out with again in Seoul. Despite the winter weather, Jeju Island was stunning, and I hope to return again in the spring or summer to lounge on the beach, wander along the Olleh walking trails, and meet the elderly female divers who continue to collect seafood in Jeju’s glistening waters.
This trip is called “New Year Jeju Island Trip.” Adventure Korea leads this trip each year, and it costs 398,000 won (approximately $350), including a round-trip ferry ticket (Jeju-Jangheung), round-trip chartered bus (Seoul-Jangheung), 9 meals, accommodation (pension, Korean-style room) for 3 days, transportation in Jeju for 3 days (a Chartered Limousine bus), all entrance fees, and English speaking guides. For more trip options, visit Adventure Korea’s homepage.
*Note: This post was partially sponsored, but the opinions are, of course, my own.
-Text and photography by Sarah Shaw @ www.mappingwords.com. All rights reserved.