Wind, Rocks and Woman

 

em>”Wind, Rocks and Woman. But no beggars, thieves or locked gates.”

That’s how Jeju island, off the south point of Korea, is described by its locals.

Bike on Island

I would add “water” to that list. Not only is it -obviously- surrounded by water. Also there’s a fair amount of water falling both from rocks and sky.

Korea

But my first introduction to Korea were the bright lights of Busan.

Bright Lights of Busan

Busan

A big city where it took me a little while to figure out how to cross a road,

Street Life, Busan

and where I spent a couple of days taking in the sights and getting used to Korea,

Busan Beach

and the food.

Whatever this may be...

It is excellent!

Fish Market

After the first shock of having my meal still moving on the hot plate at a small restaurant near the fish market. Where the ladies rather forcefully made sure I got inside and eat.

It was eel, and they skin and cut them up in pieces right before your eyes so they must be dead, but still keep moving until they’re well cooked.

One minute they swim in the tank, the next minute on my plate...

In other places you might go in for a feed, order a meal (usually around 6 or 7 dollars) and receive anything from 4 to 12 side dishes! With pumpkin, kimchi (fermented cabbage, tastes better than it sounds!), little fish, soup, seaweed, tofu, bean sprouts, spinach, etc.

Side Dishes!

The wonderful thing about these is they keep refilling them until you’re full!

One funny difference I noticed with Japan is where in Japan everybody first asked if I was American, here the assumption is I’m Russian! I guess that’s one improvement 😉

I also noticed that phones seem to be an extension of the body. If you take the metro everybody is plugged in!

All plugged in

It might be like this in other places too, but I never noticed it like here. My phone doesn’t work.  So I am forced to look around instead 🙂

I saw a pretty girl. Pretty girl

After a few days I jumped on a ferry and headed towards Jeju Island.

Jeju Island

Where the pace of life is a bit slower.

Local Traffic But for me it all started a little different than I had imagined.

Slightly more expensive too.

Welcome to Jeju Island!

Just after arriving my mouth decided to fall to pieces.

Maybe due to the fact I haven’t seen a dentist in about 10-odd years?

……

The lesson I learned?

Go to the dentist in Korea! At about a third of the price in the Netherlands it saves you a heap! And now I can smile again.

🙂

Temple on Jeju

Lucky I had a great place to stay while in town.

Roof top Camping

I camped on the roof of the Forest Hostel. Definitely the best place in town!

After a week in Jeju city I was very keen to explore the rest of this island.

Pretty Butterfly

So I climbed on my bike and started to pedal, direction tail-wind.

Ignoring the fact I would have to go against that wind the next few days.

That’s just the way it is when you ride around an island.

Island Jeju is known to be a ‘honeymoon island’.

“Dol Hareubang”, or grandfather-statues, are a symbol of Jeju. Stone statues with a mushroom-shaped hat that can be seen as a phallic symbol. They offer both protection and fertility. Maybe not the best place to park my bicycle then…

Dol

There’s a few phallic symbol’s around. Some subtle,

Uhm, yeah

some not so.

Door Knob

Like this door-knob at Jeju’s “Love land” A sex-based theme park that leaves very little to imagination, but is good for a giggle. Apparently it’s for over 20’s only so I was a little surprised to see people pushing prams around and make it a fun family day out…

Slightly odd to come across a place like that in Korea.

I just kept on riding my bicycle.

down the road

This guy, looking at his expression, didn’t like my singing.

Say what?

I enjoyed riding along the coast seeing all the people get on with their daily business,

Collecting Seaweed

and marvelling at the squid boats.

Squid Boat

There is a lot of them.

Many squid boats

And at night they light up the sea and the sky when they’re out catching squid.

Squid Boat Lights

You see hanging around the island the next day.

Just hanging around

I was lucky when, on the first night I found a beautiful beach to camp at. And Kim, Kim & Tho, who happened to camp at the same beach

Kim, Kim & Tho

And tried teaching me some Korean.

Nice view.

I had a few lovely days,

Shelter Camping

Gorgious day

Another Temple

I saw the amazing lava rock formations.

Lava RockAnd some more rocks,

Rocks

Sadly the weather turned to crap.

Riding in the rain.

The good thing is there’s lot’s of little shelters to pitch your tent in case of downpour.

Good camp in the rain.

And it sure did rain! Not just a drizzle either.

Cycling around the island is a popular activity. And I found Simone, an Austrian girl who accompanied me for half a day.

Simone

We leisurely rode from temple to waterfall,

Temple

Waterfall

enjoying coffee’s and waffles along the way.

Just when we parted ways Seungjoo Choi overtook me.

Seungjoo Choi

With only a small backpack he could have easily gone a lot faster, but chatting away and riding in a severe downpour ’till way after dark we suddenly stumbled upon a remote, interesting Guesthouse.

ehm, ok??

Where I happened to be the 2nd foreign visitor. Ever!

Yay! New friends!

Somehow I ended up learning how to play a djembee… Sort of.

Jembee Lessons

And drink ‘Soju’, a typical and very popular drink in South Korea.

Accompanied by a whole assortment of weird and wonderful seafood.the weird and wonderfulIt made it all but impossible to leave the next morning. So I did not.

Instead I went along on a mission to catch some of this glorious food myself.

Me

An almost succesful operation, as the urchin wedged itself firmly under my fingernail…

(I eat it)

Eating the Urchin

It was the most wonderful morning! Not only did we see a whole lot of dolphins,

Dolphins

We encountered some of the last Haenyo’s,

Haenyo

These are the amazing ladies of the underwater world.

Free Diving Granny

Or the “free-diving grannies of Jeju“, as their ages now varies between 50 and 75.

I’ve seen all the statues,

Haenyo Statue

and murals,

Haenyo Mural

dedicated to them while riding around.

Haenyo

These ladies have been making a living from diving for abalone, octopus and urchins since the nineteenth century, when it became unprofitable for men to dive because of high taxes. Woman didn’t need to pay taxes so the diving has been a woman’s job eversince.

And this all without snorkel or tank.

searching

They are able to hold their breath up to 3 minutes and dive down to 20 meters!

Diving

It’s wonderful to see these ladies at work.

Diving

They even shared some of their catch with us.

Sharing the catch

Octopus Yum!

But it’s not a very attractive job, with most girls now choosing carreers in the city or tourism. It’s unlikely the Haenyo’s of Jeju island will survive.

The last of the Haenyo's

fisherman

Another tough Lady

I nearly got around the island when the weather cleared up for a day,

A clear day

One of the must do’s, apparently, is walk up the big hill.

Mount Hallasan stands with 1950m in the middle of the island. It also happens to be the highest mountain in Korea.

And if you get up there on a clear day, as I did, you get some nice views of the whole of Jeju.

Mount Hallasan

As long as you don’t expect to be by yourself. Instead you walk the easy and almost completely paved 9km up the hill surrounded by people listening to really loud music on their phones, wearing really loud outfits.

a hike

A colourful experience indeed.

colour The route I took is classed ‘difficult’. I have no idea why.

The 'difficult' track

The track down was a lot prettier and more quiet. Only after I walked down I realised that’s probably because there’s no transport to, or from, that point.

So I hitched a ride back to my bike and rode the last few km’s back to Jeju city.

Island Life

Not missing the lovely sunset on the way in.

Jeju Sunset
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29 thoughts on “Wind, Rocks and Woman

  1. Hoi Mirjam,
    Mooi verslag; wat een drukte daar en bijzonder eten!
    Kun je voorlopig weer vooruit zonder tandarts.
    Hier alles goed, druk en gezellig.
    Genietze maar weer, en een knuffel van Stella Tieme en Saar

  2. ach, aren’t Austrians just the best companions 😉
    You were missed when Kylie and I decided to turn the duty free-shop at Istanbul airport into a dancefloor!!
    love ya

  3. Hoi Mirjam,

    Na je vanochtend al even gesproken te hebben, hebben we nu je nieuwe bericht gelezen en bekeken. Ziet er weer geweldig uit. Jammer van al die regen, maar af en toe was het blijkbaar ook droog.. We spreken elkaar weer,

    liefs, pap & mam.

  4. Hoi Mirjam,

    Het is iedere keer weer genieten als je reisverslag binnenkomt. Schitterende foto’s en observaties.
    En nu ook nog met een goed gebit…… We zien uit naar het vervolg van je reis door Zuid-Korea.

    Groetjes, Hans en Marijke

  5. Korea seems to be an other planet for me. Thanks a lot for your impressions you share with us couch potatoes around the world. Please keep cycling and keep us posted – We love it!!!
    Greetings from Germany Nüket and Nuriel (We met you at the crocodile tent in Australia where you had a bike trouble)

  6. Awesome post about Jeju! My wife and I are living in Korea right now to teach English, and although we love hiking, my first and true passion is biking. Seeing your blog and pictures is inspirational, so thank you for sharing! Ride on…

  7. Congratulations ! It gives me a lot of ideas for my next journey in Jeju Island, in three weeks from now ( end of april and beginning of may 2014 )

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